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5.7 National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

Key Organizations

5.7 National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

NARA preserves documents, materials and records involving the Federal Government. (NARA. About the National Archives.) NARA collects and maintains declassified information and makes it available for research purposes. In 2019, OMB issued Memorandum M-19-21 providing guidance to all federal agencies to manage records digitally by December 31, 2022, requiring NARA to be accessible in a fully electronic format. (OMB M-19-21. Transition to Electronic Records. 6/28/2019.) This terminated any paper or hard copy systems involving the maintenance of electronic records.

NARA defines essential records as documentation allowing agencies to fulfill their operational needs under a national security threat or emergency, or to safeguard the legal and financial rights of the Federal Government. (NARA. Essential Records Guide. August 2018.) NARA directs the heads of federal agencies with specific responsibilities in managing essential records including:

  • Create and maintain records for the agency;
  • Establish programs to manage records to properly identify information for public disclosure and in a digital format, among other standards;
  • Transfer of records to record centers;
  • Developing protections to prevent loss of records; and
  • Notifying Archivist of unlawful activities.

NARA’s Code of Federal Regulations require agencies to establish electronic information systems and evaluate them to check for accuracy. Otherwise, “agencies must submit an SF 115, Request for Records Disposition Authority, to NARA.” (36 C.F.R. §1236.26(a). Electronic Records Management.)