Electronic Mail (E-Mail) - Records Management Guidance

September 10, 1999

MEMORANDUM To: Heads of Offices

Office of the Secretary Employees

From: Daryl W. White /s/
Chief Information Officer

Subject: Electronic Mail (E-Mail) - Records Management Guidance

The purpose of this memorandum is to clarify guidance issued by this office in a memorandum dated September 2, 1999, same subject. To reiterate the most important part of that guidance, you were informed that a recent U.S. Court of Appeals decision ruled that Federal agencies can delete electronic records from their computers as long as they have filed a paper copy of the records in their official recordkeeping system. The Office of the Secretary's current official recordkeeping system is the existing paper records filing system. As stated in the September 2, 1999 memorandum, employees must manage their E-mail records by:

  • Determining if the message meets the definition of a record.
  • Printing out the message (plus any attachments), along with the essential transmission data (author, transmittal date, all message recipients, subject).
  • Filing the paper copy of the record with all related paper records in your office's official paper recordkeeping system.
  • Deleting the E-mail message from your E-mail system on a timely basis.

E-mail messages may contain information that must be disclosed due to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, congressional requests, or to the courts in the course of litigation. E-mail messages that are the subject of active FOIA requests, congressional requests, or litigation must be printed out (along with any attachments and with the essential transmission data) and filed in your official paper recordkeeping system, before they are deleted from your e-mail system.

To the extent that any previously issued guidance is inconsistent with the policy articulated above, the previously issued guidance should be ignored.

For guidance in determining if your e-mail message is an official record, visit this website:www.doi.gov/ocio/records. For further assistance, contact Pamela Quallich, the OS Records Officer, at (202) 208-3909 or Ed McCeney, the Departmental Records officer, at (202) 208-3321.

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