1743 - KEEPING AND DESTROYING RECORDS
A. Purpose: This chapter provides instructions for specific NIH records. All previous authorizations for the disposition of NIH records are hereby superseded.
This schedule must be used in conjunction with the General Records Schedule (GRS) of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The GRS provides for the disposition of records generally used in Government offices, such as personnel records or general administration records.
B. Scope: These instructions ensure that necessary and useful records are retained in the files of NIH offices and laboratories for as long as required and reasonable; that information can be retrieved efficiently from these files because unnecessary records have been weeded out; that valuable space is not taken up by records not needed for current business; and that records with lasting historical, legal or scientific value are preserved.
C. Background and References: Recordkeeping by Federal agencies is controlled by laws and regulations which require that (1) government records be kept only for authorized periods of time; (2) no government records be destroyed, mutilated or removed from government custody without authorization; (3) records which are valuable enough to be preserved permanently be kept intact and be transferred to the National Archives as appropriate; (4) records which are not in active use, but which cannot be destroyed for some time, be transferred to a Federal Records Center.
The NIH Records Control Schedule, which is Appendix 1 to this chapter, contains specific instructions as to how long records of any given type may be kept and what must be done with them after the specified period. These instructions are legally binding. Records may not be destroyed before the authorized time, and they may not be kept for periods longer than those specified in the schedule. Records scheduled for permanent retention should be offered to the National Archives at the time specified.
F. Records: Records may have any physical form or characteristics. Records may be on paper, microfilm, magnetic tapes, cards, disks, or any other material. They may be letters, memoranda, reports or other materials commonly found in office files. They may also be laboratory notebooks, instrument readings, photographs, sound recordings, motion pictures, maps, books, drawings, data bases or in any other form or format.
The official records of the National Institutes of Health are created by or for NIH or received by NIH in the course of doing business. The essential point about these records is (1) that they contain information about the organization, functions, policies, procedures, decisions or other activities of NIH or any of its components, or (2) that they contain information, such as biomedical data, which is useful to NIH in carrying out its mission. These records are the property of the U.S. Government. They do not belong to individuals.
G. Non-Records Materials: Certain documentary materials are specifically excluded by law (44 U.S.C. 3301) from the records of the Federal Government. Such materials are called "non-record." Any one or more of these three factors may determine whether something is a record or non-record: (1) the nature of the material; (2)the relationship to records; and (3) the use of the material.
H. Personal Files: Personal files are those that relate only to an individual's personal affairs and do not affect the conduct of agency business. Papers or other documents that a person creates or receives in connection with the performance of official duties are government records and must be treated as such.
Even correspondence marked "personal," "confidential" or "private" is an official record if it relates to official activities. If private, personal correspondence contains portions which require official action or response, those portions which require official action or response must be extracted and made a part of official files. Research notes and reports created by scientists working at NIH are official records that belong to the government, not the individual researcher. In some cases, even diaries, appointment books and other schedules of personal activities are considered government records.
Personal files kept in NIH offices or other facilities must be designated as personal
and must be maintained apart from official records.
I. Privacy Act Records: Contact your IC Privacy Act Coordinator or the NIH Privacy Act Officer, (see also HHS General Administration Manual Chapter 45-10, page 886.)
J. Micrographics: All permanent records on microfilm must follow the standards for the Storage, Use and Disposition of Microform Records, 36 CFR 1230 subpart D.
K. Inactive Records: Inactive records which must be retained for three or more years according to the disposition specified in this schedule or the GRS, may be retired to a Federal Records Center. See NIH Manual 1742.
L. Additional Information: For more information on this chapter, call the Division of Management Support (DMS), Office of Management Assessment (OMA), on 301-496-4606.