Records Management

Thank you for visiting the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) web site and your interest in the NEA's Records Management Program.

What is a Federal Record?

Per the Federal Records Act, federal records include all books, papers, correspondence, maps, photographs, publications, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, produced or received by an agency of the United States Government. The documents are maintained in association with the transaction of public business and preserved by the agency as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the Government or because of the informational value of the data in them (44 U.S.C. 3301).

What Type of Records Does NEA Produce?

Temporary Records: Temporary Records are records approved by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for disposal, either immediately or after a specified retention period. These records are sometimes called disposable or nonpermanent records.

Examples of NEA Temporary Records are:

  • Program and Grants & Contracts Office maintained grant files, cooperative agreement files, and final grant products (when applicable) related to NEA grant awards.
  • All closed out grant files and cooperative agreement files which are designated for retirement/archiving.
  • Panel and Council Books.
  • Panel meeting records (e.g., books, tapes, notes, ballots, etc.).
  • White House Correspondence Working Files.
  • Grant Applicant work samples (e.g., supporting materials) including determination of funding or rejection of the application.
  • Publications Working Files.
  • Audit Services Records.
  • Estimates of Appropriations.
  • Copies of correspondence generated by NEA offices.

Vital Records: Vital Records are essential records that are needed to meet operational responsibilities under national security emergencies or other emergency or disaster conditions to protect the legal and financial rights of the Government. Vital records are also known as essential information. NEA Vital Records are accessible from the NEA Continuity of Operations (COOP) site.

Permanent Records: Permanent records are those documents that NARA has appraised as having sufficient value to warrant continued preservation by the Federal Government as part of the National Archives of the United States.   Permanent Records are created or received while conducting government business. The permanent records for NEA are mainly originated within the offices of the NEA Chairman, Senior Deputy Chairman, Deputy Chairman for Programs and Partnerships, Deputy Chairman for Management and Budget, Chief of Staff, and Inspector General.

Examples of NEA Permanent Records are:

  • Correspondence with other Federal agencies, colleges, private cultural organizations or applicants; agreements, studies, documents on administration of NEA programs; letters to and from members of Congress, etc.
  • Manuscripts, films, slides, video recordings, published books, architectural plans, surveys, and catalogs produced by grantees.
  • Photographs of the Chairman in official activities, NEA supported artists and activities, National Council on the Arts, and other significant agency events.
  • Motion picture film spot announcements which publicize the work of the NEA.

Copy of all remarks, addresses, and speeches made by the Chairman before professional groups, during interviews, in Congress, at award ceremonies and similar occasions.

  • Original letters received from and copies of letters sent to members of Congress, Council members, heads of Federal agencies, state and local officials, consultants, college and university presidents, and directors of art organizations.
  • Correspondence with the directors of each program area of the NEA concerning topics such as budget matters, policy issues, meetings, and specific grants.
  • Copy of each press release announcement issued by NEA concerning grant awards, major staff changes, and events concerning the Chairman.
  • Correspondence with directors of program areas concerning administrative and policy matters, grants consultants, Congressional contacts, meetings, agreements, and other miscellaneous matters.
  • Record copy of each NEA publication including the Annual Report, Guide to Programs, Artifacts, and individual program guidelines.
  • Official minutes of the meetings of the National Council on the Arts, including discussions on general policy issues as well as the Council's recommendations on specific grant awards.
  • Copies of legislation and related hearings on NEA bills for annual appropriations and periodic reauthorization.
  • Correspondence with directors of each partnership program and regional representatives concerning budget matters, policy issues, meetings, and specific grants.
  • Documents relating to strategic planning activities and oversight reporting including semiannual reports to Congress, strategic planning and five-year audit plans, and related records.

What is NEA's Records Management Strategy?

The NEA plans, controls, directs, organizes, and promotes activities related to the creation, maintenance and use, and disposition of all records. These activities are carried out in such a way as to achieve adequate and proper documentation of Federal policies and transactions, and effective and economical management of NEA operations through the following policies and principles:

Programs and Office Responsibility.  Create, maintain, and preserve information as NEA records, regardless of media, that document the transaction of business and accomplishment of the NEA's mission in order to provide evidence of Agency organization, functions, policies, procedures, decisions, and operational, logistical, and support transactions.

Minimize Legal Exposure.  Retaining Federal records either longer than or not as long as required can become a legal liability for NEA. Programs and Offices must be cognizant of retention timeframes of all temporary records. When the retention period is completed, the records should be destroyed in a timely manner.

Eliminate Duplication.  Only the official copy of a Federal record needs to be maintained. All duplications may be discarded. At the end of each Fiscal Year, records should be reviewed and duplications destroyed.

Ensure Survival of Vital Records.  NEA must take appropriate measures to ensure the survival of vital records in case of emergency or disaster so that they are protected, accessible, and usable. The designation of vital records shall be kept current and complete. Vital records implementation guidance has been incorporated in the NEA Continuity of Operations (COOP) plan.

Reduce Storage Space.  With the OMB mandate for reducing federally leased space, storage space for NEA records may continue to be decreased. It is imperative that all permanent records be sent to the Federal Records Center and all temporary records digitized.  

Increase Work Productivity and Efficiency in Information Search and Retrieval.  It is very important that records can be located efficiently when requested. NEVER destroy records that pertain to an ongoing or reasonably anticipated investigation, legal action or proceeding, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, audit, or program review, even if the retention period or disposition date specified for the records has already expired. Inventories of archival records boxes are verified prior to shipment to the Federal Records Center for permanent records. Digitized temporary records will be searchable.

Disposal of NEA Temporary Records.  Administrative Services Office will approve the disposal of NEA records in accordance with approved records schedules so that permanent records are preserved and temporary records are correctly disposed of when their required retention period expires.  

Will NEA Meet the Requirements for Email Management?

Federal agencies are required to manage their email records in accordance with the Federal Records Act and 36 CFR Chapter XII Sub-chapter B. With the issuance of the Managing Government Records Directive (M-12-18), Goal 1.2, agencies are required to manage both permanent and temporary email records in an accessible electronic format by December 31, 2016. NEA is not going to implement the Capstone approach of capturing emails for senior officials. NEA will continue to utilize NEA's Consolidated Records Schedule, NC1-288-82, NC1-288-93, and NC1-288-95.

The NEA officials whose email accounts must be managed are:  Chairman, Senior Deputy Chairman, Deputy Chairman for Programs and Partnerships, Deputy Chairman for Management and Budget, and Chief of Staff. These NEA officials have NEA-provided cellular phones which are utilized outside the office for communications. Federal records may be created if these officials conduct agency business on their personal email accounts. Email sent on personal email accounts pertaining to NEA business must be reviewed to identify those emails most likely to contain records that should be preserved as permanent. All NEA email records will be maintained in a searchable cloud environment.

What is the Status of Digital Submission of Permanent Records?

To promote openness and accountability and reduce costs in the long term, the Federal Government has made a commitment to the transition to a digital government. All of NEA's designated emails will be digitized by December 2016. All temporary and permanent records will be retained in an appropriate electronic system that supports records management and litigation requirements, including the capability to identify, retrieve, and retain the records for as long as they are needed. All FY16 temporary and permanent records will be digitized. The records will be maintained on designated servers in the NEA Data Center, and access will be strictly controlled. All files will be backed-up each evening and will be stored at the NEA COOP site.