NARA releases interim records-management policy

With a critical court ruling still under review, the National Archives and Records Administration yesterday issued interim guidelines for how agencies should preserve electronic records.

According to the bulletin, when agencies schedule new records for preservation or destruction, or when they revise their plans for existing records, they must include provisions for handling both the electronic versions of these records and any other version, including paper, that are kept in their official files. NARA has already been giving agencies this advice informally.

The new policy responds to a court ruling issued last fall that overturned the existing electronic-records policy, known as General Records Schedule 20, which allowed agencies to destroy the electronic versions of their records if they printed paper copies. The government is appealing the decision, and in its bulletin, NARA noted that the Justice Department says agencies may continue to follow the old policy. However, according to the bulletin, "Fundamentally NARA believes that the government needs to develop a better approach.''

A copy of the policy is available on the Web at www.nara.gov/records/grs20/bltn-grs.html.

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