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SM 432.1 Files Management


Date: 04/05/2019

OPR: Office of the Associate Chief Information Officer

Instruction: This is a reissuance of Survey Manual (SM) Chapter 432.1, Files Management, dated February 22, 1991.


1.  Purpose and Scope. This chapter establishes the objectives of Files Management in support of the Records Management Program (RMP), and outlines responsibilities for the creation and maintenance of files (regardless of physical form) to ensure adequate documentation and proper preservation of records evidencing the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures and essential transactions of the U.S. Geological Survey for current utilization, and future historical reference.


2.  Authorities.

A. 44 U.S.C. 31, 3101-3106, Records Management by Federal Agencies

B. 36 CFR 1220-1240, Records Management


3.  References.

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

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


4.  Definitions.

A. Discovery is the pre-trial stage in a lawsuit by which each party can request documents and other evidence from other parties. Discovery is obtained either by the service of an adverse party with a notice to examine prepared by the applicant’s attorney or by a court order. 

B. Document Productions are Congressional requests for information and/or questions whose responses are coordinated through the Department of the Interior Executive Secretariat and the Office of the Solicitor. These requests and the procedure for responding are established and revised by Executive Secretariat.

C. Electronic Records Management System is a collection of technologies that work together to provide a comprehensive solution for managing the creation, capture, indexing, storage, retrieval, and disposition of records and information assets of the organization in accordance with National Archives and Records Administration requirements.

D. Federal Records are 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).

E. File is the arrangement of documentary material including papers, photographs, maps, machine-readable information, and other recorded information (regardless of physical form or characteristics), which is accumulated or maintained in filing equipment, boxes, or machine-readable media, or on shelves, and occupying office or storage space or in electronic shared drives, or document management systems.

F. File Codes are the assigned numeric designation for grouping records to facilitate access, arrangement, and standardized filing by all parts of the organization. The USGS has designated file codes for Bureau administrative, scientific and management (e.g., 505-01a Official Press Release Files).

G. File Cutoff is the termination date of files at regular intervals such as the end of a project, calendar year or fiscal year to permit their transfer, retirement or destruction in complete file blocks. Under this process, a file is terminated regularly at the end of a specified time or an event and a new file is established.

H. File Maintenance and Disposition Plan or File Plan is a document that provides standard naming and numbering conventions for use in file stations, which aid in identifying and tracking records for appropriate handling, ease of access and use, and for timely disposition. This form uses USGS file codes.

I. File Station is a unit where record copies of correspondence, documents and data are kept. These units can be physical files, shared drives or network drives to allow for shared filing within an organizational component in USGS.

J. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests are requests for records and non-records that require production, unless a specific exemption applies, that is reviewed and processed by the USGS FOIA Officer and coordinated with the Office of the Solicitor as appropriate.

K. Litigation Holds are preservation orders for pending or expected litigation that requires ongoing preservation in the original format to preserve metadata, or descriptive contextual system information such as with email or instant messages.

L. Nonrecords are Federally owned informational materials that are 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.

M. 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.  These are also referred to as personal papers.

N. Shared Drive or Network Drive is a networked server or server(s) to store files that are accessible from multiple locations by various personnel with standard backup.  


5.  Responsibilities.

A. Associate Directors are responsible for the following:

(1) Ensuring staff are accountable for creating and maintaining adequate files to document the official activities of the USGS, which are carried out by their respective organizations;

(2) Identifying essential records within their Mission Areas and Regions and ensuring that measures are developed and implemented for safeguarding, maintaining, and updating these records for access (refer to SM 433.3 Essential Records);

(3) Ensuring that USGS records disposition schedules are adhered to for the appropriate and timely disposition of all records of operations within their Missions when the files are inactive or noncurrent;

(4) Appointing a Records Liaison Officer to monitor and assist in the implementation of Files Management within the Mission Areas; and

(5) Ensuring that the Records Liaison Officer coordinates the processing, as necessary, of any unscheduled records and corresponding file codes or other revisions to adequately reflect the complete records series and retention and disposition requirements of the Bureau.

B. Records Officer is responsible for oversight of the USGS RMP as follows:

(1) Developing, implementing, continuously monitoring, and issuing up-to-date policy and guidance on Files Management;

(2) Providing technical advice and assistance to Records Liaison and other USGS personnel in implementing the standards and carrying out the file management objectives;

(3) Ensuring Bureau-wide application of USGS records disposition schedules to files for the appropriate disposition of all USGS records;

(4) Keeping records schedules up-to-date through continuous review and consultations with Records Liaisons, program managers and National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) officials;

(5) Ensuring the identification and modification of file code listing for USGS files; and

(6) Evaluating compliance of meeting Files Management requirements such as the creation of file plan(s) and file folders using filing codes.

C. Records Liaison Officers are responsible for cooperating with the USGS Records Officer in carrying out the objectives of the RMP, which include the following:

(1) Implementing RMP Files Management objectives and standards within their respective Mission Areas or Offices;

(2) Coordinating electronic record filing and system activity within Mission Areas or Office;

(3) Designating official file locations where record copies of communication, planning documents and analysis, and other documentation are maintained;

(4) Ensuring that filing codes and operations follow established standards and procedures;

(5) Ensuring that current, accurate and complete Files Maintenance and Disposition Plans have been developed for all files within their respective Mission Areas; plus any other items which would have a negative impact on the cost­ effectiveness of the organization and maintenance of the files. These plans are submitted to the RMP;

(6) Reviewing files annually for applying timely disposition and coordinating requests for records transfers to approved off-site storage locations; and maintaining locator controls and inventory lists of all Mission Area records transferred; and

(7) Inspecting records holdings, evaluating the effectiveness of files disposition practices, and identifying areas with low levels of file disposal or transfer when preparing Mission Area input to the above report.

D. Records Liaison Coordinators are responsible for coordinating RMP activities in the centers, offices and programs, and are also responsible for the following:

(1) Cooperating with their Mission Area Records Liaison Officers to ensure consistent filing;

(2) Coordinating electronic record filing and system activity with Mission Areas or Offices; 

(3) Ensuring that a Files Maintenance and Disposition Plan has been developed for files created within their area;

(4) Reviewing files annually and applying timely disposition, as well as coordinating requests for records transfers to authorized off-site storage locations and maintaining locator controls and inventory lists for all files transferred in their areas;

(5) Submitting Annual Summary of Records Holdings Report and forwarding it to their Records Liaison Officer; and

(6) Inspecting records holdings, evaluating the effectiveness of files disposition practices, and identifying areas with low levels of file disposal or transfer when preparing input to the Mission Area reports.

E. Center Directors, Program Managers and Supervisors are responsible for designating Records Liaison Coordinators, as may be required by the size or complexity of their organization or operations, to carry out the objectives of Files Management.

F. USGS Employees are responsible for the following activities:

(1) Routinely identifying records and filing them with the related records, segregating records from non-records and personal files;

(2) Cooperating with their respective Records Liaison Officers or Records Liaison Coordinators in Files Management;

(3) Protecting Federal records in their custody and ensuring that all records containing Privacy Act or sensitive information are maintained in a controlled manner which precludes unwarranted intrusions upon individual privacy and appropriate handling of controlled unclassified and classified information;

(4) Ensuring that all records in their custody are disposed of in accordance with USGS records disposition schedules and tracked through designated RMP methods; and 

(5) Ensuring exiting personnel do not remove or donate any USGS records or non-records, except as authorized by the USGS Records Officer or the Office or Center Director.


6.  Objectives, Standards and General Policy

A. Objectives. The objectives of USGS Files Management are to establish and organize files in a way that records can be found rapidly, to ensure that records are complete and document USGS work, to facilitate the selection and retention of records of archival value, and to accomplish the timely disposition of noncurrent or inactive records.

B. Standards and General Procedures. Detailed standards and procedures covering all aspects of files organization, planning, maintenance, use and disposition are contained in the Handbook for Managing USGS Records, 432-1-H and records disposition schedules.

C. Efficient management of records begins with accurate file‐naming.  A file name should be clear and understandable to those who will use the files. File naming conventions assist with version control distinguishing similar files and may facilitate the proper filing of records.

D. The creation of Files Maintenance and Disposition Plans identify record series to include general administrative, scientific, and management files that are augmented with specific project, committee or other specific information. The Files Maintenance and Disposition Plan provide the filing codes for organizing files, specific project names and provide the disposition and location of the files.

E. USGS coordinates work among Missions and Offices areas that will require file coordination to avoid redundant files in multiple locations and to ensure complete files.

F. Routinely filing related records to a coordinated or centralized repository intended for long term storage will facilitate economical and efficient access, which will further scientific discovery and support USGS decision-making. These files should be stored in Bureau-authorized locations with access limited to appropriate personnel and abide by other Federal requirements. Examples of additional benefits include:

(1) Meeting business needs and facilitating future scientific discovery;

(2) Responding to data calls for Congressional document production;

(3) Responding to the public through Freedom of Information Act requests;

(4) Complying with litigation holds and discovery for pending litigation for the Courts;

(5) Filing and staging essential records in support of emergency operating requirements and continuing mission essential functions; and

(6) Controlling access through appropriate marking to protect sensitive information.


Examples of material to be filed in appropriate formats include: Electronic Mail, Data, Analyses, Reports, and Briefings.


G. Files are maintained by the nature of the activity. File cycles may be fiscal or calendar year or by completion of a project or sub-project. Cutoff is at the point when documentation of the activity is completed, and no other documentation is added to the files.

H. Retention of records are identified by NARA-approved records schedules. Destruction of temporary records and non-records are in accordance with approved records schedules, and the legal and physical transfer of designated permanent records to NARA is through the USGS Records Officer. Records without a records disposition authority, referred to as unscheduled records, are treated as permanent records and are preserved until disposition authority has been obtained from NARA.


7.  Expiration Date. This policy must be reviewed biennially or more frequently, as needed.

Any questions regarding these RMP requirements and procedures can be emailed to



/s/ Katherine M. McCulloch                                                            04/05/19

_____________________________                                           __________

Katherine M. McCulloch                                                                   Date

Associate Director for Administration