5 FAM 450 

Records disposition

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


(CT:IM-288;   08-23-2022)

a. The Department’s records disposition schedules are published on the Records Management website.

b. On an annual basis, each bureau office and post section must review the records disposition schedules and initiate retirement or destruction of eligible Department records.

c.  Permanent records must be retired to the Records and Archives Management Division (A/GIS/IPS/RA):

(1)  Records of senior officials are retired at the end of the incumbent’s tenure, to include emails dated prior to 2017, all Federal records regardless of age, format or media, and records on personal accounts or non-government applications and platforms;

(2)  When needed, long-term temporary records may be retired to off-site storage in a facility that meets NARA standards; and

(3)  Procedures to retire Overseas personnel files are located on the Records Management website on OpenNet.

d. Temporary records must be destroyed on-site pursuant to the appropriate records disposition schedule using the proper method of destruction pursuant to 12 FAM:

(1)  If there is a legal hold, pending litigation, investigation or audit, the records must not be destroyed until the Office of the Legal Adviser sends out a notice that the legal hold has been lifted; and

(2)  Records that are responsive to a FOIA request must not be destroyed until the responsive records are turned over to the FOIA office.

5 FAM 452  Transfering Custody of Permanent Records to NARA

(CT:IM-288;   08-23-2022)

a. Once permanent records are retired to A/GIS/IPS/RA, the records are preserved generally for 25 years until they are reviewed for declassification pursuant to 12 FAM and 5 FAM (if applicable).

b. The Agency Records Officer approves the eventual transfer of permanent records to NARA pursuant to NARA regulations and transfer guidance.

c.  Once the transfer of records to NARA is completed, NARA takes legal custody of the records and assumes responsibility for all information access requests, e.g., FOIA, and mandatory declassification requests.  For this reason, Department personnel must refrain from retaining copies of records that have been transferred to NARA.

d. Certain records may be pre-accessioned into NARA to safeguard the records.  In such cases, the Department maintains legal ownership.  Declassification of classified records will be coordinated with NARA.

5 FAM 453  other Records

5 FAM 453.1  Destruction

(CT:IM-288;   08-23-2022)

a. Security regulations, by themselves, do not constitute authorization to destroy records; only the records disposition schedule provides the legal authority for destruction.

b. Records that are not covered by an approved records disposition schedule are considered permanent records and must not be destroyed.  Department personnel must contact A/GIS/IPS/RA to obtain authorization before destroying the records.

c.  The method of destruction of all classified, and administratively controlled records, including sensitive but unclassified records, as defined in 12 FAM, must be destroyed pursuant to 12 FAM security regulations, policies, and procedures.

d. Fines, imprisonment, or both may be imposed for the willful and unlawful removal or destruction of records as stated in the U.S. Criminal Code (18 U.S.C., section 2071).

e. These penalties do not apply to the removal or destruction of non-record material, but other penalties may be imposed for the willful and/or unlawful destruction of documents, even if not a record, that are subject to a litigation hold or other legal hold.

5 FAM 453.2  Unauthorized Removal or Destruction of Records

(CT:IM-288;   08-23-2022)

a. It is against the law to willfully remove or destroy records prior to the time frame mandated by an approved records disposition schedule.

b. Records that are not covered by an approved records disposition schedule are considered permanent records and must not be destroyed.

c.  Bureaus and posts must:

(1)  Establish safeguards against the removal or loss of records determined to be necessary and required by Federal laws and regulations; and

(2)  Report instances of unlawful removal or destruction of Federal records to the Agency officer.

d. The Agency Records Officer must notify NARA of any actual, impending, or threatened unlawful removal, defacing, alteration, or destruction of records in the custody of the Department; and, with the assistance of NARA, initiate action through the Attorney General for the recovery of records believed to have been unlawfully removed from another Federal agency and transferred to the legal custody of the Department.

e. There may be criminal and administrative penalties, to include fines and imprisonment for the unlawful removal or destruction of records. (18 U.S. Code § 2071, 12 FAM 558, and 18 U.S. Code § 1924).

5 FAM 454  transfers

5 FAM 454.1  Jurisdictional Transfers

(CT:IM-288;   08-23-2022)

a. Official files may be transferred within the Department or to any of its components due to changes in organization, function, diplomatic, or consular jurisdiction.

b. When jurisdiction over diplomatic and consular functions is transferred from one post to another, records required to carry out the inherited function must be transferred to the new post:

(1)  This may result from a post opening, closing, changing status, or the realignment of consular districts; and/or

(2)  This must also be done when liquidating the affairs of a closed post.

5 FAM 454.2  Interagency Transfers

(CT:IM-288;   08-23-2022)

A/GIS/IPS/RA must be notified (records@state.gov) and must obtain NARA approval for the transfer of custody of Department of State records to or from other Federal agencies due to Federal statute, Executive Order, Presidential reorganization plan, or treaty.

5 FAM 454.3  Disposition During Emergencies

(CT:IM-288;   08-23-2022)

In the event of an extreme emergency, or evidence of the possible development of such an emergency, records may be transferred for safe haven or authorized for destruction.

5 FAM 454.4  Safe-Haven Transfers

(CT:IM-288;   08-23-2022)

During an emergency at post, records may be transferred to A/GIS/IPS or to a nearby post for safekeeping or safe haven.  The decision to safe-haven records is at the discretion of the principal officer and the transfer of the records may be accomplished with or without activating the Emergency Action Plan (EAP).  A/GIS/IPS/RA will coordinate with posts to transfer records to a safe-haven.

5 FAM 454.5  Emergency Destruction

(CT:IM-288;   08-23-2022)

a. During an emergency or crisis, destruction is authorized in accordance with instructions governing emergencies and evacuations (see 12 FAH-1 and the post’s EAP).

b. When records are destroyed under emergency conditions and before the RDS retention timeframe, A/GIS/IPS/RA must be notified and provided the following information:

(1)  Estimate of volume of records destroyed;

(2)  Description of records, including subject matter, type of records, inclusive dates, security classification; and

(3)  Circumstances under which destruction took place.

c.  The post’s (EAP) must take into consideration the possible destruction needs of all U.S. Government agencies at post.  In a crisis the priorities of destruction as enumerated in 12 FAH-1 will govern the precedence of destruction and the use of all agencies’ destruction equipment.

d. Only the chief of mission or the senior officer in charge decides when a post’s classified or unclassified record holdings will either be reduced or destroyed.


(CT:IM-288;   08-23-2022)

a. A United States diplomatic mission and consular post may comprise of other Agencies represented in the country, such as USAID, Foreign Agricultural Service, Foreign Commercial Service, Peace Corps, military groups, law enforcement, and Defense attachés.

b. All agencies with personnel working at U.S. diplomatic missions and consular Posts that use the Department’s network are responsible for managing their records pursuant to their agency’s records management policies and procedures.

c.  The Department’s email is managed under GRS 6.1, “Email managed under a Capstone Approach”.  The Department does not track or manage the email accounts of Capstone personnel of other agencies.

(1)  The state.gov email accounts assigned to other agency personnel are by default in a non-Capstone status, which means these emails are automatically deleted after seven years in accordance with GRS 6.1, item 011; and/or.

(2)  Agency’s may notify the Department's Information Management Officer (IMO) at post to request an export of its Capstone users email and any other agency email required for retention or information access purposes.

d. Agencys at post are responsible for managing its federal records on the Department’s network. Network accounts are automatically disabled once a user's password expires and, at that point, accounts are generally deleted after 90 days of inactivity and records within those accounts are no longer accessible.

e. If necessary, the agency is responsible for contacting the IMO to repatriate federal records contained in accounts of departed personnel into the Agency’s custody prior to account deletion.

f.  Agency personnel are also responsible for processing information access requests and approving or disapproving requests to transfer records between posts.  To properly manage its records, each agency should:

(1)  Provide the agency’s records disposition schedules to personnel;

(2)  Provide personnel with policies and procedures for managing their records;

(3)  Ensure the agency records are not co-mingled with Department records;

(4)  Designate an agency point of contact who will initiate the repatriation of records for all records management and information access requirements such as disposition, FOIA, eDiscovery, etc.; and

(5)  Designate an agency point of contact with the authority to approve/disapprove the transfer of the records between posts.

g. In an emergency, the post’s policies and procedures relating to security of records and information take precedence over an individual agency’s records management policies and programs.  Refer to the Post’s Emergency Action Plan (EAP).  Federal regulations allow for the destruction of records in emergency situations.

h. Program records created by other agencies through a Joint Administrative Office (JAO) agreement are the property of the creating agency and are handled in accordance with the records management policies and procedures of the creating agency.

5 FAM 456  Through 459 UNASSIGNED