5 FAh-4 h-600 

5 FAh-4 h-610  

(CT:RMH-12;   04-04-2012)
(Office of Origin:  A/GIS/IPS)

5 FAH-4 H-611  GENERAL

(CT:RMH-12;   04-04-2012)

a. Digital imaging offers an efficient and effective means to manage records.  It allows for quick retrieval, sharing of information, and lower storage costs.  However, there are instances where digital imaging is not applicable or cost effective.  Typically, existing paper records that either are no longer needed in the office or have a low retrieval rate should be retired to the Records Service Center, instead of being converted to digital records.

b. For additional guidance/information, contact the Records and Archives Management Division (A/GIS/IPS/RA) by email at records@state.gov.

5 FAH-4 H-612  Digital Imaging and Records Disposition Schedules

(CT:RMH-12;   04-04-2012)

a. In planning a digital imaging program, it is imperative to identify the Records Disposition Schedules that cover the records to be scanned.  These schedules are available on the Records Management website on OpenNet.  The Department’s Records Disposition Schedules are managed by the Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS) under the authority of 5 FAM 410.

b. For temporary records, bureaus, offices, and posts may digitally scan paper records without first obtaining approval from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for a new Records Disposition Schedule.  In other words, images of temporary paper records do not need a new schedule approved if the nature and content of the records remain identical to the description in the current schedules.  The existing disposition authority for the paper records may be applied to the imaged files, i.e., the imaged files must be retained for the same period designated in the disposition schedule for the paper records.  The temporary paper records may be destroyed after the records have been converted to an electronic format and verified for 100 percent accuracy and completeness.

c.  In general, offices should only retain the paper copies of temporary scanned images if there is a compelling reason to do so.  However, before destroying the paper records, it is essential that you ensure the accuracy of the imaging and get a commitment from the office responsible for the records to maintain the digital images to avoid technological obsolescence for as long as required by the relevant records schedule.  In some circumstances, paper copies must be maintained because of a legal need to have access to the original or “wet signature” copy of a record (some foreign governments have this requirement).

d. In the case of scanning permanent records, you cannot destroy the paper copies used to create digital images unless NARA approves their destruction.  Contact A/GIS/IPS/RA for assistance.

5 FAH-4 H-613  Digital Imaging of Unscheduled Documents

(CT:RMH-12;   04-04-2012)

In the case of scanning unscheduled records, offices cannot destroy either the paper or digital images until an appropriate Records Disposition Schedule has been developed and approved by NARA.

5 FAH-4 H-614  Digital Imaging Format

(CT:RMH-12;   04-04-2012)

a. The format for temporary digital images may vary.  However, the format for permanent digital images must meet NARA requirements, found on the Records Management website.

b. NARA lists the specific resolution, format, and documentation requirements covering the transfer of permanent records to the National Archives.  The principal recommended format is:

Archival Portable Document Format (PDF-A)

    Other acceptable formats are:

Tagged Image File Format (TIFF)

Graphics Interchange Format (GIF)

Basic Image Interchange Format (BIIF)

Portable Network Graphics (PNG)

c.  The minimum resolution required by NARA for scanning permanent records is 300 DPI (dots per inch).

5 FAH-4 H-615  Digital Imaging Indexing

(CT:RMH-12;   04-04-2012)

a. An indexing scheme is necessary to retrieve the information and image for any digital imaging project.  You must maintain the index data (metadata) as long as any of the images are in existence. In most cases, an indexing scheme of at least six fields, such as the following, will facilitate retrieval:

Originating office

Bureau or post




Identifier(s), such as names or numbers

b. You may need additional indexing fields to identify document classification or sensitivities, such as Procurement, Privacy Act, or personally identifiable information (PII) and other limitations on access.

5 FAH-4 H-616  Digital Imaging of Classified Records

(CT:RMH-12;   04-04-2012)

The indexing fields for scanned classified permanent records must include fields required by E.O. 13526 such as classification authority, reason(s) for classification, as well as instructions for the declassification event or date.  In addition, you must label any physical media on which the digital classified images reside with the highest level of classification of the records.  For any permanent classified digital images, the office is responsible for ensuring the appropriate hardware or software will be available for IPS to view the images and declassify or extend their classification as appropriate.  Classification review data fields are available on the Records Management website.

5 FAH-4 H-617  Storage and Maintenance of Electronic Records

(CT:RMH-12;   04-04-2012)

Throughout the life cycle of electronic records, the information must be retrievable for Department purposes, and in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Privacy Act (PA) requests, requests from Congress, litigation-related requests, and other legally mandated record requests.  The office of record (not IPS) is responsible for ensuring the retrievability of its electronic records throughout their life cycle.  For long-term temporary records (retention period of ten years or more) and permanent records, records management functionality must be ensured throughout the life cycle of the records.  Functionality includes the ability to declare, capture, and organize records; maintain security; manage access and retrieval; preserve records; and execute disposition.  You must have migration processes and/or strategies for preserving and maintaining the records in order to prevent media/hardware and software/format obsolescence.

5 FAH-4 H-618  Electronic Records Management

(CT:RMH-12;   04-04-2012)

Current records management policies related to the management of electronic records are located in:

(1)  5 FAM 440, Electronic Records Management;

(2)  5 FAH-4 H-218.3, Selection and Maintenance of Electronic Storage Media; and

(3)  5 FAH-4 H-314.4, Electronic Files.

In addition, information on managing electronic records is located on the Records Management website on OpenNet.

5 FAH-4 H-619  Checklist for a Digital Imaging Project

(CT:RMH-12;   04-04-2012)

A/GIS/IPS created a checklist (5 FAH-4 Exhibit H-611) to help you and your organization consider the records management implications of digitizing records.

5 FAh-4 Exhibit H-611 

(CT:RMH-12;   04-04-2012)

(Office of Origin:  A/GIS/IPS)

Organization Name:

Contact Name:

Contact Phone Number:

Contact Email Address:








Have you defined the requirements for the project in writing?


Have you consulted with the organization’s records liaison or coordinator?


Have you contacted IPS?


Is the material proposed for imaging identified under the Department of State’s published Records Disposition Schedule?


Are the records either unscheduled or scheduled as “permanent”?


What are the records schedule item numbers for the records being digitized?




Are the records to be scanned existing paper holdings?  If so, what is the date range for the records to be scanned?


What is the volume (linear feet) of records to be digitized?  Please indicate in comments column.


Can some of the paper holdings be retired instead of scanned?


Are the records classified?


Does the metadata captured in the index or the images of the document contain Privacy Act or personally identifiable information?


Have you conducted  a Privacy Impact Assessment  on the system?  If not, please contact privacy@state.gov.


Have you identified all the users of the digitized records?


Has the business procedure for the digitized records been determined and described?


Will digitization result in changes in the records and/or their usage?


Will imaging facilitate the work process? Describe how.


Will the digitized records replace the paper records to become the official record copy?


If the answer to #17 is yes, will the digitized records retain their legal acceptability?


Have you incorporated quality assurance procedures into the digitization process?


Have you considered the condition of the original records and document preparation?


Have you developed an indexing scheme to facilitate retrieval by all users?


Does the indexing scheme contain at least 6 fields per record?





Will you capture adequate metadata?





Have you determined image requirements (resolution, compression, headers, etc.)?





Have you conducted a benefit cost analysis and was the finding positive?





Have you conducted an analysis of several imaging options to determine the one most cost-effective?





Have electronic record migration issues been considered and resolved?





Is there a back-up plan?  If so, what is it?