5 FAM 440 

Records Maintenance and Use

(CT:IM-288;   08-23-2022)
(Office of Origin:  A/GIS/IPS)


(CT:IM-288;   08-23-2022)

a. Records maintenance is any action involving the storage, retrieval and handling of records kept by Department personnel or the office responsible for the information to conduct Department business as well as those offices responsible for managing Department information systems.

b. Records disposition schedules should be used to establish internal policies and procedures to:

(1)  Implement standardized naming conventions;

(2)  Establish and organize file structures;

(3)  Protect access to records; and

(4)  Segregate temporary records from permanent records.

c.  Records must be stored, organized, and maintained on approved Department systems and platforms throughout the records lifecycle to ensure:

(1)  Records are available when needed, where needed, and in a usable format to conduct Department business;

(2)  Continuous accountability of records;

(3)  The integrity of the records remains intact;

(4)  Records are protected and safeguarded from unauthorized access and dissemination; and

(5)  Disposition of records can be carried out pursuant to the appropriate records disposition schedule.

d. Department personnel must have a legitimate business need to access records sought in connection with performing official U.S. Government duties:

(1)  No one is entitled to receive or have access to information based on their official position or by holding a security clearance; and/or

(2)  Access to specified records should only be granted to authorized Department personnel with specified “need to know” and/or role-based privileges;

e. Department personnel must adhere to Department policy requirements to access, use and disseminate Department information:

(1)  National security and sensitive information that is owned by, originated by, produced by or for, or under the control of Foreign Affairs Agencies, at any and all Department-controlled locations regardless of physical form must be protected pursuant to 12 FAM;

(2)  Classification, declassification, and marking of information classified under E.O. 13526 must be protected pursuant to 5 FAM 480; and

(3)  Access to and use of Department information internally and externally must be protected pursuant to 5 FAM 470.

5 FAM 442  TAGS and Terms

(CT:IM-288;   08-23-2022)

a. Traffic Analysis by Geography and Subject (TAGS) and Terms is an identification system used primarily to organize and manage communications disseminated throughout the Department and posts.  TAGS and Terms, however, may also be used to organize and store records.

b. TAGS and Terms work together to provide an easy to use, subject-oriented means to store and later find information.

c.  TAGS identify subject content, specific world locations, and programs.

d. Terms are used to further clarify and aid in identifying and retrieving the information later.  Some Terms are listed in the TERMDEX in the TAGS/Terms Handbook.  New Terms may be added as needed by A/GIS/IPS to meet office or post needs.

f.  A/GIS/IPS approves new TAGS or redefines old TAGS, as appropriate.  To create new Subject, Program, or Organizational TAGS, the requesting office must use the “New TAGS” ALDAC template on the Records Management Website (link) and obtain all required clearances.  A/GIS/IPS cannot create the new TAGS without all required clearances.

e. For questions about creating, editing, or retiring TAGS, contact Records@state.gov.

5 FAM 443  Digital Records

(CT:IM-288;   08-23-2022)

a. Digitization is the process of converting hardcopy or analog records into a digital format.  Digital imaging offers an efficient and effective means of managing records and allows for quick retrieval, sharing of information, and lower storage costs.

b. Bureaus and posts must identify the records disposition schedule that covers the records to be digitized and consider certain factors that may make it impractical from either a financial or operational standpoint to digitize records (Digital Imaging Checklist):

(1)  Depending on the final disposition requirements, it may not be worthwhile to digitize records that are near the end of their retention.  If the records are permanent and are eligible for retirement in accordance with the records disposition schedule, retire the records to A/GIS/IPS/RA;

(2)  Records that are rarely or never accessed may be more cost-effective to continue storing and managing in hardcopy or analog until disposition; and

(3)  Legal issues should be considered before digitizing the records, including accessibility, data integrity and privacy protections.  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).

c.  Temporary records must comply with the following digitization standards:

(1)  All information contained in the original source records, including all the pages or other sources (such as envelopes, cards, or sticky notes) is captured;

(2)  The digitized version can serve the same purposes as the original source records, including the ability to attest to transactions and activities;

(3)  The digitized version must be protected against unauthorized deletions, additions, or alterations;

(4)  The information is retrievable to conduct Department business and in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Privacy Act (PA) requests, for the records' entire retention period, regardless of where the digitized images are stored; and

(5)  The digitized version is validated to ensure the quality is suitable to replace original source records.  The validation process must be documented (Validation Checklist):

(a)  The temporary paper or analog records may be destroyed after the records have been verified for 100% accuracy and completeness; and/or

(b)  The digitized versions are retained and disposed of according to the applicable approved records disposition schedule.

d. Permanent records must be digitized to standards appropriate for the accurate preservation of the original image.  The paper copies used to create digital images must not be destroyed unless The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) approves their destruction.  Contact A/GIS/IPS/RA for assistance.

e. In the case of digitizing records not covered by a records disposition schedule (unscheduled records), contact A/GIS/IPS/RA).  Offices must not destroy either the paper or electronic copies until an appropriate records disposition schedule is developed and approved by NARA.

5 FAM 444  System Requirements for Storing Electronic Records

(CT:IM-288;   08-23-2022)

Systems that store and maintain Department records must ensure the records in the systems can provide adequate and proper documentation of agency business for as long as the information is needed and provide the capability for the disposition of the records, including the requirements for transferring permanent records to NARA.  Systems must:

(1)  Support records management, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and litigation requirements, including the capability to identify, retrieve, and preserve records, attachments, and associated metadata;

(2)  Adhere to the appropriate retention policies;

(3)  Preserve electronic records in a manner that ensures authenticity, reliability, integrity, usability, content preservation, and context;

(4)  Maintain records in a sustainable format that is retrievable and usable throughout the lifecycle and as technology evolves;

(5)  Ensures records management controls are established for the generation, collection, processing, dissemination, and disposal of records;

(6)  Provide for backup and recovery; and

(7)  Allow for the transfer of permanent records to A/GIS/IPS/RA.

5 FAM 445  Essential Records Program

(CT:IM-288;   08-23-2022)

a. Essential records (previously known as vital records) are those records each bureau needs to meet operational responsibilities under national security emergencies or other emergency conditions (emergency operating records) or to protect the legal and financial rights of the government and those affected by government activities (rights and interests records).

b. The Department’s Continuity Framework and associated program annexes establish the overall guidance for the Department’s Continuity Plans and Programs, identify key stakeholders within the Department who support the implementation of the domestic emergency management program, and formalize the implementation process of continuity programs to ensure the Department can conduct and reconstitute its mission-essential functions under all conditions.

c.  The Chief of the Records and Archives Management Division (A/GIS/IPS/RA) serves as the Essential Records Manager for the Department of State and the Department’s Emergency Relocations Group (ERG) to:

(1)  Provide overall guidance and oversight for the protection of essential records; and

(2)  Coordinate the recovery of damaged essential records across the Department.

d. The Office of Emergency Management (A/OEM) is responsible for providing secure storage required for all essential records pursuant to the Department’s Continuity Framework.

e. Each Department bureau and/or office has overall responsibility for updating their essential records and databases, including those in their respective folders pursuant to Department’s Continuity Framework.

5 FAM 446  Through 449 UNASSIGNED