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Records Management at Jefferson Lab

What is a Record?

What is Records Management?

Why Records Management?

Electronic Records

Legal Requirements

Privacy Act

Roles and Responsibilities

Identifying Archival Material


Vital Records

Glossary of Terms

Flowchart for Records Management

Flowchart for Vital Records

Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator
Records Management Handbook

To view or download PDF version, click here.

Glossary of Terms

ACCESS: The availability of, or the permission to consult, records.

ACCESSION: The transfer of the legal and physical custody of permanent records from an agency’s office to on-site storage, the Federal Records Center, or to the National Archives.

ACTIVE RECORDS: Records necessary to conduct the current business of an office and therefore generally maintained in office space and equipment. Also called CURRENT RECORDS.

ADEQUATE AND PROPER DOCUMENTATION: A record of the conduct of U.S. Government business that is complete and accurate to the extent required to document the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions of the agency and that is designed to furnish the information necessary to protect the legal and financial rights of the Government and of persons directly affected by the agency's activities.

ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS: Records relating to budget, personnel, supply, and similar housekeeping, or facilitative, functions common to most agencies, in contrast to program records.

ADMINISTRATIVE VALUE: The usefulness of records in conducting an agency's current business. Includes fiscal value and legal value, which are usually analyzed separately when records are evaluated for disposition.

APPRAISAL: The process of determining the value and thus the final disposition of records, making them either temporary or permanent.

ARCHIVAL MATERIAL: A document or record containing specific information about the project that may have historical significance. Examples may include reports, studies, proposals, correspondence, etc….

ARCHIVES: (1) The non-current records of an organization preserved because of their continuing, or enduring, value. (2) One or more buildings, or portions thereof, where permanent records are located after being accessioned by an archival agency. Also called archival depository or archival repository.

CASE FILES: Records, regardless of media, documenting a specific action, event, person, place, project, or other matter. Include personnel, project, and transaction files, which are types of case files.

CENTRAL FILES: Files accumulated by several offices or organizational units and maintained and supervised in one location. Also called centralized files.

CLOSED FILE: A file unit or series containing documents on which action has been completed and to which more documents are not likely to be added. See also CUTOFF.

CONTRACTOR RECORDS: Data produced and/or maintained by a contractor for a Federal agency and required to provide adequate and proper documentation of that agency's programs and to manage them effectively. Also called contractor data.

CUTOFF: Breaking, or ending, files at regular intervals, usually at the close of a fiscal or calendar year, to permit their disposal or transfer in complete blocks and, for correspondence files, to permit the establishment of new files. Case files are generally cut off at the end of the year in which the case is closed. Cutoff is sometimes abbreviated as COFF and is also called file cutoff or file break.

DESTRUCTION: In records management, the major type of disposal action. Methods of destroying records include selling or salvaging the record medium and burning, pulping, shredding, macerating, or discarding with other waste materials.

DISPOSAL: The actions taken regarding temporary records after their retention periods expire and consisting usually of destruction.

DISPOSITION: A broad term which may refer to any of the following:

  • Destroying records;
  • Offering and transferring those records accepted to the National Archives;
  • Retiring or transferring records to a records storage facility;
  • Transferring records from one office or agency to another; and
  • Donating records to a Government or non-Government entity.

DISPOSITION AUTHORITY: (1) Legal approval empowering an agency to transfer permanent records to the National Archives or carry out the disposal of temporary records. Must be obtained from NARA and also, for certain records proposed as temporary, from the General Accounting Office (GAO). (2) The agency's approval of disposition instructions for non-record materials.

ELECTRONIC RECORDS: Records stored in a form that only a computer can process. Also called machine-readable records or ADP records.

EMERGENCY-OPERATING RECORDS: That type of vital records essential to the continued functioning or reconstitution of an organization during and after an emergency. See also VITAL RECORDS.

FEDERAL RECORDS CENTER (FRC): A storage facility established for the receipt, maintenance, servicing, and disposition of records which are retired in accordance with the provisions of authorized disposition schedules. The National Archives and Records Administration operates a system of Federal records centers which DOE is authorized to use.

FILES CUSTODIAN: The individual responsible for the establishment, maintenance, and operation of file stations within their organizational units. Also referred to as "recordkeeper."


FINAL DISPOSITION: The end of the records life cycle in which temporary records are disposed of and permanent records are transferred to archives.

FISCAL VALUE: The usefulness of records in documenting an agency's financial transactions and obligations.

FROZEN RECORDS: In records disposition, those temporary records that cannot be destroyed on schedule because special circumstances, such as a court order or an investigation, require a temporary extension of the approved retention period.

GENERAL RECORDS SCHEDULE (GRS): A NARA-issued schedule governing the disposition of specified records common to several or all agencies.

INACTIVE RECORDS: Records no longer required to conduct agency business and therefore ready for final disposition. Also called NON-CURRENT RECORDS.

INVENTORY: A survey of agency records and non-record materials that is conducted primarily to develop records schedules and also to identify various records management problems, such as improper applications of recordkeeping technology.

LEGAL VALUE: The usefulness of records in documenting legally enforceable rights or obligations, both those of the Federal Government and those of persons directly affected by the agency's activities.

LIFE CYCLE OF RECORDS: The management concept that records pass through three stages: creation, maintenance and use, and disposition.

NON-RECORD MATERIAL: Items which include those classes of documentary of other material that may be disposed of without archival authority such as the following examples:

  • library or museum material made or acquired for reference or exhibition purposes
  • extra copies of documents preserved only for convenience of reference on which no action is recorded or taken
  • stocks of publications or other processed documents that require no action
  • routing slips and transmittal sheets adding no information
  • personal papers of a private or non-official character

Non-records may be destroyed when their purposes have been served.

PERSONAL PAPERS: Documentary materials belonging to an individual that are not used to conduct agency business. Related solely to an individual's own affairs or used exclusively for that individual's convenience. Must be clearly designated as such and kept separate from the agency's records. Also called personal files or personal records.

PRESERVATION: The provision of adequate facilities to protect, care for, or maintain records.

PROGRAM RECORDS: Records documenting the unique, substantive functions for which an agency is responsible, in contrast to administrative records.

RECORDKEEPING: The act or process of creating and maintaining records. Assumes the need for their proper disposition.

RECORDS: Records of the Department of Energy are books, papers, photographs, machine readable materials, maps, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, which have documentary or evidential value. Such materials, created or received in connection with the transaction of official business, are preserved because of their informational value as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities. Records, also referred to as record material or Government records, can be destroyed only according to the provisions of authorized disposition schedules.

RECORDS CREATION: The first stage of the records life cycle in which records are made (or received) by an office.

RECORDS DISPOSITION SCHEDULES: A comprehensive listing and description of records created or accumulated which shows all legally authorized action to be taken in relation to the retention and disposition of the records. Records disposition schedules provide for cutting off records and carrying out their disposition.

RECORDS MANAGEMENT: The planning, controlling, directing, organizing, training, promoting, and other managerial activities related to the creation, maintenance and use, and disposition of records to achieve adequate and proper documentation of Federal policies and transactions and effective and economical management of agency operations. Also called records administration.

RECORDS MANAGEMENT PROGRAM: A planned, coordinated set of policies, procedures, and activities needed to manage an agency's recorded information. Encompasses the creation, maintenance and use, and disposition of records, regardless of media. Essential elements include issuing up-to-date program directives, properly training those responsible for implementation, publicizing the program, and carefully evaluating the results to ensure adequacy, effectiveness, and efficiency.


RECORDS SERIES: Also called a files series. File units or documents arranged according to a filing system or kept together because they relate to a particular subject or function, result from the same activity, document a specific kind of transaction, take a particular physical form, or have some other relationship arising out of their creation, receipt, or use, such as restrictions on access and use. Generally handled as a unit for disposition purposes.

RIGHTS-AND-INTERESTS RECORDS: That type of vital records essential to protecting the rights and interests of an organization and of the individuals directly affected by its activities.


SPECIAL RECORDS: Types of records maintained separately from textual/paper records because their physical form or characteristics require unusual care and/or because they have nonstandard sizes. Include electronic, audiovisual, microform, cartographic and remote-sensing imagery, architectural and engineering, printed, and card records.

TRANSFER: The act or process of moving records from one location to another.

VITAL RECORDS: Records essential to the continued functioning or reconstitution of an organization during and after an emergency and also those records essential to protecting the rights and interests of that organization and of the individuals directly affected by its activities. Sometimes called essential records. Include both emergency-operating and rights-and-interests records. Vital records considerations are part of an agency's records disaster prevention and recovery program. See also EMERGENCY-OPERATING RECORDS, RIGHTS-AND-INTERESTS RECORDS.

maintained by the Publications Manager