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431.1 - Records Management Roles and Responsibilities


Date: 06/28/2019

OPR: Office of the Associate Chief Information Officer

Instruction: This replaces Survey Manual (SM) Chapter 431.1 – Records Management Program, dated November 5, 2005.


1.  Purpose. This SM chapter establishes program objectives and assigns responsibilities for program management and operations to ensure adequate documentation and proper preservation of records and nonrecords providing evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for current and future use.


2.  Scope. This SM chapter applies to USGS employees, including Federal employees, contractor personnel and others (also known as affiliates, a term that includes but is not limited to guest researchers, emeritus, cooperators, and volunteers) who are funded by USGS funds or represent the bureau.


3.  Authorities.

A.  44 U.S.C. Chapters 31 and 33, as amended November 26, 2014

B.  Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-130, Managing Information as a Strategic Resource – Management of Federal Information Resources

C.  32 CFR 2002, Controlled Unclassified Information

D.  36 CFR 1220-1249, Records Management

E.  380 Departmental Manual (DM) 1, Records Management Program and Responsibilities

F.  380 DM 2, Adequacy of Documentation

G. 380 DM 3, Files Management

H. 380 DM 6, Vital Records Program

I.  382 DM 11, Managing Records in Electronic Form

J.  384 DM 1, Records Dispositions

K.  Federal Continuity Directive 1, Federal Executive Branch National Continuity Program and Requirements

L.  Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) Publication 199


4.  References.

A.  SM 431.3, Records Management Requirements and Electronic Mail and Instant Messages

B.  SM 432.1, Files Management

C.  SM 431.8, Federal Register Documents

D.  SM 431.10, Information Collection Requirements

E.  SM 433.3, Essential Records

F.  SM 431.11, Litigation

G.  USGS Handbook for Managing USGS Records, 432-1-H

H.  USGS Guide for Handling Privacy Act Records, 319-1-H 

I.  5 U.S.C. 552, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)


5.  Policy. The USGS maintains an active records management program (RMP) established for the economical and effective creation, maintenance, use, preservation, and disposition of USGS records and nonrecords, on all media, in compliance with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. Records management is the planning, controlling, directing, organizing, training, promoting, and other managerial activities involved in records creation, maintenance and use, and disposition to achieve adequate and proper documentation of the policies and transactions of the Federal Government and effective and economical management of agency operations (44 U.S.C. 2901). The USGS must follow Federal records management requirements related to documenting the administrative, scientific, and managerial work it conducts. Records management encompasses multiple areas, including but not limited to the following major activities:

A.  Routinely creating and receiving files that contain related records for the project, program or activity, and segregating records, nonrecords, and personal papers in any medium. For those records not collocated, coordination of USGS personnel to ensure complete files can be accessed. These files should be created in accordance FIPS Publications 199, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and other Federal requirements that are not personal systems, personal email, or personal files.

B.  Establishing and verifying the organization of records and nonrecords into standard filing structures to enable economical and efficient access and control. Preserving records for the length of time dictated by the records schedules unless there is a high expectation of litigation or pending litigation requires preservation.

C.  Establishing, periodically reviewing, and revising disposition authorities for all USGS records including data through NARA-approved records schedules. This requires coordination among the subject matter experts, USGS Records Officer and NARA, who provides the legal authority for disposition.

D.  Enabling appropriate access and control through standard controlled unclassified and classified markings.

E.  Ensuring the identification and accessibility of essential records and the correlating hardware and software needed to enable the continuity of operations program for mission essential functions and essential support activities.


6.  Definitions.

A.  Business Use is a term used to describe the primary purpose of the records created, collected, or received in USGS including scientific research, program management, publication and information release, bureau management, and administration.

B.  Essential Records (formerly Vital Records) are records containing information that is essential for (1) emergency operations during a disaster or a national emergency; (2) resumption and/or continuation of operations; (3) reestablishment of the legal, financial, and/or functional status of an agency; and (4) determination of the rights and obligations of individuals and/or corporate bodies with respect to an agency.

C.  Federal Records include all books, papers, maps, photographs, machine-readable materials, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by an agency of the United States Government under Federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation by that agency or its legitimate successor as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the Government or because of the informational value of the records (44 U.S.C. 3301).

D.  National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is an independent Federal agency with records management oversight responsibility for all executive branch agencies.

E.  Nonrecords are Federally owned informational materials excluded from the legal definition of records or not meeting the requirements of that definition.  Nonrecords include extra copies of documents kept only for convenience or reference, stocks of publications and of processed documents, and library or museum materials intended solely for reference or exhibition.

F.  Personal Files are those files in any format that do not document agency business.  These may include personal files stored for convenience, documents pertaining to membership in professional societies where the individual was not representing the USGS or the Department of the Interior, or work created while not employed with the USGS.  It may be related by subject to your work but not part of your official duties.  Also referred to as personal paper.

G.  Recordkeeping requirements are statutes, regulations, or agency directives providing general and specific guidance on records to be created and maintained by an agency.

H.  Records Liaisons are designated personnel tasked by management for implementing records management requirements.  Mission Area, Region, or major office level are Records Liaison Officers, and at the science center or cost center level are Records Liaison Coordinators.

I.  Records Schedules are legal documents providing authority for the final disposition of recurring or nonrecurring records.  Also called, a records disposition schedule, or records control schedule.

J.  Unauthorized destruction, alteration, manipulation, defacement or removal are incidents of destruction, manipulation, removal, or alteration either without an approved disposition authority; when the record has been approved for permanent retention; prior to the end of the approved retention period; or when the record is subject to another requirement (e.g., Freedom of Information Act requests or litigation) to retain the record until request process is completed.  This includes accidental incidents that may occur due to flooding or other unexpected changes.

K.  USGS Employees consist of Federal employees, contractors, volunteers and emeriti who conduct business on behalf of the bureau.


7.  Objectives and General Procedures. The objectives of the USGS RMP are to ensure:

A.  Accurate and complete documentation of the policies, procedures, functions, organization, transactions, and science of the USGS through the development and implementation of policies and recordkeeping requirements;

B.  All USGS records, regardless of form or media, are adequately preserved and accessible in accordance with regulations, from their initial creation, collection, or receipt to their final disposition;

C.  All records in USGS have an approved NARA disposition authority;

D.  Adequate safeguards are established to prevent unauthorized access, alteration, removal, destruction, or loss of USGS records;

E.  Processes for the standard creation and maintenance of organized files are in place to ensure that USGS records are properly documented and are readily accessible to appropriate personnel to facilitate the timely disposition of permanent and temporary Federal records;

F.  All USGS records designated as permanent value are legally and physically transferred in a timely manner to the NARA for preservation;

G.  Accessibility of records is acceptable for efficient business use and continuity of essential mission or support activities; and

H.  Unauthorized access is prevented through appropriate markings and controls.


8.  Responsibilities. Records management responsibilities for creating/receiving, maintaining and using, and implementing disposition and program responsibilities are listed below.

A.  USGS Director is responsible for ensuring that all USGS programs and activities comply with Federal records management regulations. This responsibility is delegated to the USGS Records Officer.

B.  Associate Directors, Office Chiefs, and Science Center Directors are responsible for the following:

(1)  Ensuring that USGS RMP requirements including essential records requirements (SM 433.3, Essential Records) are carried out within their respective areas of responsibility;

(2)  Designating Records Liaisons in annual performance plans to include coordinate records management activities at the Mission, Region, Center or Office to ensure timely disposition, development of file plans, routine and consistent filing, coordinating timely disposition, and raise questions and issues impeding or preventing compliance; and

(3)  Coordinating all litigation-related matters such as litigation holds, subpoena for records, and depositions with the USGS Litigation Coordinator to ensure the identification, preservation and production of information as required.

C.  USGS Records Officer is responsible for the following:

(1)  Developing and implementing policy and procedures to ensure adequate and proper documentation of USGS activities and appropriate recordkeeping requirements;

(2)  Coordinating implementation of records management activities with the Department of the Interior Records Management Program;

(3)  Developing and implementing records management training for USGS personnel based on roles and responsibilities;

(4)  Coordinating requirements and soliciting feedback periodically from the designated USGS Records Liaisons and routinely evaluate compliance;

(5)  Creating, revising, and ensuring application of disposition authorities for all USGS records;

(6)  Oversight and evaluation of the USGS RMP and coordination with NARA;

(7)  Transferring, in a timely manner, all USGS records designated as permanent value, legally and physically to the NARA for preservation; and

(8)  Notifying NARA if there are any alleged or actualized incidents of unauthorized destruction, manipulation, alteration or removal through accidental or intentional means.

D.  Records Liaison Officers (RLO) are responsible for assisting and cooperating with the USGS RMP in the administration and implementation of requirements in Mission and Offices, which includes:

(1)  Coordinating requirements and implementation strategies that ensure their respective Missions or Offices meet USGS, Department of the Interior and NARA requirements;

(2)  Creating or ensuring the creation of annual Files Maintenance and Disposition Plans and standard files organized by file codes by managers and employees (refer to SM 432.1, Files Management);

(3)  Coordinating with the USGS Records Officer on creating, revising and applying records schedules for timely destruction and transfer of permanent records;

(4)  Annual reporting of destruction, deletion, or transfers of eligible Federal records and participation in program evaluations; and

(5)  Coordinating records management issues and solutions for their organizations.

E.  Records Liaison Coordinators are responsible for the following:

(1)  Coordinating requirements and implementation strategies that ensure their respective Science Center, office or program meet USGS, Department of the Interior and NARA requirements;

(2)  Creating or ensuring the creation of annual Files Maintenance and Disposition Plans and standard files organized by file codes by managers and employees (See SM 432.1, Files Management);

(3)  Coordinating with the USGS Records Officer on creating, revising and applying records schedules for timely destruction and transfer of permanent records;

(4)  Annual reporting of destruction, deletion, or transfers of eligible Federal records and participation in program evaluations; and

(5)  Coordinating and cooperating with their Mission Records Liaison Officers and the USGS RMP in the administration and implementation of requirements in the Centers, Offices, and programs regarding records management issues and solutions for their organizations.

F.  Program and Office Managers are responsible for ensuring that their office and program records regardless of format are included in the appropriate record schedules and are managed according to relevant NARA regulations and USGS disposition schedules and policies.

G.  USGS Litigation Coordinator is responsible for coordinating with the departmental Office of the Solicitor and USGS personnel for identifying, preserving and producing relevant records for litigation (refer to SM 431.11, Litigation).

H.  Information Technology Support personnel are responsible for the following:

(1)  Ensuring systems used for creating and storing records are operated, maintained and backed up to provide access to electronic files throughout their entire lifecycle;

(2)  Coordinating with the USGS Litigation Coordinator in the production of electronically stored information for litigation for center or program staff; and

(3)  Collaborating with science center or program staff for ensuring preservation of long term temporary and permanent electronic records including migration as necessary.

I.  USGS Employees are responsible for the following:

(1)  Complying with all policies and procedures relating to the USGS RMP;

(2)  Documenting agency activities in any format;

(3)  Preserving records including data for the length that the records schedule dictates;

(4)  Ensuring that all records under their control or in their custody are disposed or transferred of in accordance with applicable disposition authorities;

(5)  Prior to exiting, obtaining approval to remove records or nonrecords by their supervisor or the USGS Records Officer.  Records or nonrecords may be donated only with prior approval from the USGS Records Officer and NARA; and

(6)  Creating or modifying information systems to ensure the integrity and preservation of the records as applicable.


9.  Evaluation, Self-Assessments, and Unauthorized Reporting and Enforcement.

A.  Records Management Programs are required to conduct formal evaluations to measure the effectiveness of program practices for compliance with Federal regulations.

B.  NARA requires all Federal agencies to complete an annual self-assessment of their compliance with records management requirements. Based on the assessment results, NARA may conduct evaluations or inspections to ensure that all or select program requirements are being met based on suspected or known deficiencies (see item A above).

C.  The USGS Records Officer is required to report any allegations or known incidents of unauthorized destruction, manipulation, alteration or removal of Federal records to NARA in violation of approved records schedules or unscheduled records. This report to NARA provides details of the circumstances and the steps instituted to prevent them from reoccurring and returning removed records, if the allegations are found to be true.  Depending on the nature of the incident, NARA may refer it to the Inspector General for further review.  In accordance with 36 CFR 1230.12, USGS employees may face a fine or up to 3-years of imprisonment for unauthorized destruction, unlawful or accidental removal, manipulation, or defacing of Federal records.


10.  Expiration Date. This policy must be reviewed biennially, or as needed, in order to maintain current information.



/S/ Katherine M. McCulloch                                                                 06/28/19

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Katherine M. McCulloch                                                                        Date

Associate Director for Administration