NARA Issues “Media Neutral Schedules” Final Rule

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has issued new final regulations on scheduling Federal records to make future records schedules and certain existing approved records schedules applicable to series of records regardless of the medium in which the records are created and maintained. This rule makes all new schedules media neutral unless otherwise specified and allows schedules previously approved for hard copy records to be applied to electronic versions of the files if certain conditions are met.

Both the agency (in submitting the schedule) and NARA (in approving the schedule) would be able to specify that certain disposition authorities are valid only for the current media/format of the records. Although agencies currently are permitted to submit “media-neutral'” records schedules, most existing records schedules were developed for hard-copy (usually paper) record-keeping systems and do not state that they apply to records in other formats.

Agencies have been required, up to now, to submit new schedules when they convert from a hard-copy system of records, including special media records (such as still pictures, aerial photography, maps, charts, drawings, motion picture film, analog videotape, and analog sound recordings), to an electronic system.

This rule is effective December 17, 2007.