5 FAM 450 

(CT:IM-129;   04-04-2012)
(Office of Origin:  A/GIS/IPS)


(CT:IM-129;   04-04-2012)

a. All Department organizations planning digital imaging projects must complete the Department’s records management digital imaging checklist before proceeding.  Completing the checklist will assist organizations in considering the records management implications of digitizing records and in determining the feasibility of undertaking the project based on a benefit cost analysis (BCA).  The checklist is available in 5 FAH-4 H-610.  The Bureau of Administration, Office of Global Information Services, Information Programs and Services (A/GIS/IPS) can provide records management guidance specific to the records to be scanned.  The costs for scanning will vary depending on such factors as the format, the indexing, and the storage and maintenance needs (See 5 FAM 660 for BCA).

b. Federal record-keeping requirements (See 5 FAM 400) and other legal issues must be considered, including the trustworthiness of the system, integrity of the data, protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) (See 5 FAM 469), and need for physical signatures.

c. The office conducting a digital imaging project is responsible for the maintenance, retrievability, quality, utility, and accessibility of the records, regardless of the media.  Therefore, the digital imaging project must have a migration plan to adjust to changes in technology (hardware, applications, media life, etc.) over the retention span of the records.  The scanned images must remain 100% accurate and legible over their lifetime.  In addition, you must follow the procedures in 5 FAH-4 H-610 to ensure the scanned images remain trustworthy and unalterable over their lifetime.  Finally, another factor to consider is the need to create, store, and refresh back-up copies of the scanned images.

d. Program managers must ensure the scanned images remain trustworthy and unalterable over their lifetime.  Some guidelines are included in 5 FAH-4 H-610.

e. Program managers must ensure back-up copies of the digital images are created, stored, and refreshed.

f. Information Technology digital imaging projects must meet 5 FAM 900 and 5 FAM 1040 funding requirements, when applicable.

g. Administrators of electronic records systems must ensure storage media are acceptable; a description of acceptable storage media is in 5 FAH-4 H-218.3.

5 FAM 451.1  SCOPE

(CT:IM-129;   04-04-2012)

This policy applies Department-wide to ensure the effective and economical management of electronic records as a critical business asset for domestic offices and Foreign Service posts.


(CT:IM-129;   04-04-2012)

The authorities for this policy reside in 5 FAM 400 “Records Management” and specifically 5 FAM 440, “Electronic Records Management.”


(CT:IM-129;   04-04-2012)

Digital Imaging is a process that converts paper documents to electronic format.  The images are commonly stored on magnetic or optical media (such as CD-ROMs, backup drives or tapes) or reside on servers.


(CT:IM-129;   04-04-2012)

All Department records, regardless of media, must be retained and disposed of in accordance with the Department’s Records Disposition Schedules as approved by the Archivist of the United States.  A/GIS/IPS manages the Department’s Records Disposition Schedules (as defined under “schedule” in 5 FAM 415.3). The records schedules that cover the records to be scanned must be identified before embarking on a scanning project. You must store media (CD-ROMS, backup drives, tapes) containing classified information in accordance with 12 FAM 530 and, for end-of-life disposition, you must destroy media as stated in 12 FAM 630.

5 FAM 452.1  Digital Imaging of Temporary Records

(CT:IM-129;   04-04-2012)

Many of the Department’s records are temporary, which means that ultimately – after a specified period of time – the records are destroyed.  Records that have been determined by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to have insufficient value to warrant permanent preservation are assigned a temporary disposition, and their retention period is documented on an approved Records Disposition Schedule (See 5 FAM 415 - Definitions).  Imaged copies of records already scheduled as temporary do not need a new schedule approved if the content of the imaged records remains identical to the description in the current schedule.

5 FAM 452.2  Digital Imaging of Permanent Records

(CT:IM-129;   04-04-2012)

Permanent records are identified in the Department’s records disposition schedules.  The images and format must meet NARA minimum resolution requirements for scanning permanent records, which is 300 DPI (dots per inch). In the case of scanning permanent records, you must not destroy the paper copies used to create the digital images unless a new Records Disposition Schedule provides such disposition instructions for the paper copies.

5 FAM 452.3  Digital Imaging of Unscheduled Records

(CT:IM-129;   04-04-2012)

In the case of scanning unscheduled records (records not covered by a disposition schedule), offices must not destroy either the paper or electronic copies until an appropriate Records Disposition Schedule has been developed and approved by NARA.

5 FAM 453  Digital Imaging of Classified Records

(CT:IM-129;   04-04-2012)

Procedures for digital imaging of classified records are covered in 5 FAH-4 H-610.  For any permanent classified digital images, offices are responsible for ensuring the availability of the appropriate hardware or software for A/GIS/IPS to view the images and declassify or extend their classification as appropriate.  The originating office is required to work with A/GIS/IPS to ensure a long-term plan is in place for accomplishing this activity.

5 FAM 454  Storage and Maintenance of Electronic Media

(CT:IM-129;   04-04-2012)

a. Regardless of where the scanned images are physically located, as long as electronic documents are in the possession of the Department, you must maintain the media and format to avoid obsolescence.  In other words, throughout the life cycle of the records, you must have the capability to retrieve the information in the records for your own business 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.

b. You must update the hardware and software as needed to ensure the quality, integrity, and utility of the records.  You are responsible for ensuring the retrievability of the electronic records.

c.  Bureau Executive Directors (EX) and Chiefs of Mission (COM) must ensure offices understand the storage, privacy protections, and maintenance responsibilities of digital imaging.


(CT:IM-129;   04-04-2012)