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Accessing Records at Federal Records Centers

Federal records centers (FRCs) provide reference services. This means that access to the records stored at these facilities is readily available in the event of audit, congressional inquiry, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, internal need, or for any other reason. In the words of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA),

"Federal Records Centers process more than 13 million reference requests for Federal agencies each year. That’s more than 6,000 requests every hour! Whether you need your records this week or this minute, NARA’s experienced staff will make sure that you receive your files quickly, accurately, and at a reasonable cost to your agency."

Your reference requests must be made by submitting Optional Form 11 (OF-11), Reference Request-Federal Records Centers to the FRC via courier, e-mail, fax, or mail. Submit two copies of each OF-11. The first copy is used by the FRC to service the request. The second copy is used as a charge-out card. Keep an additional copy for yourself for tracking and control purposes. If you fax the form, be sure to send two copies.

The OF-11 is a three-part form:

You can retrieve records from the FRC for temporary use or remove them permanently.

  • A temporary withdrawal is made if the records will be returned to the FRC after they are used.
  • A permanent withdrawal is made if the records will be altered by substantial additions to or deletions from an accession. If records are permanently withdrawn, a copy of the OF-11 should go to the NIH Records Management Officer (RMO). Permanently withdrawn records may later be returned to the FRC as a new transfer (accession) in new records boxes. Records may also be moved elsewhere for storage, but the facility must meet the NARA storage facility requirements.

Records Delivery

Records requested from FRCs may be e-mailed, mailed to your office, picked up at the FRC, or reviewed in person at the FRC. U.S. Postal Service and/or UPS are the standard methods of delivering requested material to agencies.

Records are normally shipped within 24 hours of receipt of an agency's request. Emergency requests requiring same day pickup by the agency or use of an overnight express courier can also be made if the circumstances qualify for emergency service. You may also make use of the records in person at the FRC reference rooms.

NIH Transportation: You may use NIH Transportation to pick up and deliver boxes from the Washington National Records Center (WNRC). The NIH Transportation Management Branch may be reached at 301-496-1546. The branch should be provided with the following information:

  • Name of Staff Member Requesting Delivery
  • Location of Boxes:

    Washington National Records Center
    4205 Suitland Road
    Suitland, MD 20746-8001

  • CAN Number
  • Address of Receiving Location
  • Volume of Records

The FRC also offers Metro Courier Service and SmartScan Electronic Document Delivery. Metro Courier service provides pickup and delivery of reference requests to federal agencies in selected metropolitan areas. SmartScan Electronic Document Delivery can provide same-day electronic delivery of your records.

backTransferring Records to Federal Records Centers

Requesting Records—OF-11, Section Iforward

Accessing Records stored at the Records Center: Is there a request for the records? Accessing Records stored at the Records Center: Complete OF-11 and specify method of receipt Accessing Records stored at the Records Center: Does request qualify as an emergency request? Accessing Records stored at the Records Center: Receive records Implementing Dispositions: Are records permanent?
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National Institutes of Health
Office of Management Assessment | Management Support | Records Management
Last Updated May 16, 2007 | Contact Us

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