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NSF Records Retention Schedule
HSPD-12


Office of Inspector General NSF Records Schedule N1-307-03-2

To manage the storage and filing of the large volume of records produced in OIG efficiently, the office needs to have in place a policy to govern their retention, disposal, and, when necessary, recovery. In 1998, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) determined that the general records schedule for federal agencies was inadequate for OIG purposes. OIGs were requesting too many exceptions, and NARA was concerned that it did not have sufficient opportunity to determine which audit and investigative files should be permanent. As a result, each OIG must now establish and obtain NARA approval for its records disposition procedures. This policy sets forth those procedures for NSF OIG. NSF’s Division of Administrative Services (DAS) manages the record retirement process for the Agency. The steps for retiring and retrieving records are found in Attachment A.

ITEM NO. 1
  1. Investigation files

These include case files developed during investigations of misconduct in science, fraud, waste and abuse, and/or violations of laws and regulations. These files may also be generated by cases involving NSF personnel, programs, and operations administered or financed by NSF, including contractors and anyone having a relationship with NSF. The files consist of investigative reports and related documents, such as correspondence, notes, attachments, and background and working files. They fall under five general categories:

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  1. Investigative Files (historically stored as Administrative, Misconduct, Conflict of Interests, Investigative, or Peer Review Files). An investigative file is opened when the factual basis of a complaint or allegation is deemed to warrant a formal investigation. An investigative case may result in referral for criminal prosecution, civil adjudication, or administrative action. Investigative files constitute the written agency record of investigative cases, including investigative reports and such related documents as correspondence and attachments. The files are classified according to historical value:
 
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    1. Investigative files with significant historical value, including cases that:

      • Attract substantial national or regional media attention;
      • Result in a congressional investigation;
      • Result in substantive changes in NSF policies and procedures; or
      • Result in a criminal conviction, civil remedy, or administrative action.

DISPOSITION: Permanent records.

ACTION: Close out files annually. Retain in OIG for 3 years, then transfer to DAS. DAS will retire to the Federal Records Center (FRC) for 27 years, then transfer to NARA 30 years after closeout.

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  1. Investigative files without significant historical value.

DISPOSITION: Temporary records.

ACTION: Close out files annually. Retain in OIG for 3 years, then transfer to DAS. DAS will retire to FRC for 4 years. FRC will destroy 7 years after closeout

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    1. Original documents. Documents produced in response to a subpoena, interview transcripts, other evidence collected during the course of the investigation. These contain information essential to the cases and should generally be kept with the file. If the documents are too voluminous to be kept in the jacket, they should be kept in redwells in the file room until the case is closed.

DISPOSITION: Same as the underlying investigative file in1(a)(i) and 1(a)(ii) above.

ACTION: Close out once case has been closed. DAS will retire to the FRC using whichever disposition instruction (either 1(a)(i) or 1(a)(ii) above) is applicable to the corresponding investigative file. For documents too voluminous to be kept in the jacket, see #6 below for instructions on retiring partial files.

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    1. Grand Jury File (6e). Materials obtained by a jury under subpoena require special handling. These documents are segregated from the case file and kept under strict physical security while the case is open. Grand Jury materials sent to the FRC will be labeled and boxed to ensure against inadvertent release without court approval.

DISPOSITION: Same as the underlying investigative file in1(a)(i) and 1(a)(ii) above.

ACTION: Retain in segregated and locked location in OIG for 3 years after case is closed, then a person on the 6(e) list or the SAC retires to the FRC using whichever disposition instruction (either 1(a)(i) or 1(a)(ii) above) is applicable to the corresponding investigative file.

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    1. Zero Files, Miscellaneous Files, Preliminary (P-Case) Files, Suspense Files, Computer Hacking Files, Conflict of Interests Files, and Hotline Files. These contain information or allegations of an investigative nature that do not result in the creation of a formal investigative file. They include anonymous or vague allegations that are deemed not to warrant an investigation, matters referred to constituents or other agencies for handling, and support files providing general information that may prove useful in Inspector General investigations.

DISPOSITION: Temporary records

ACTION: Close out cases annually. Retain in OIG for 2 years, then transfer to DAS for destruction.

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    1. Working papers, drafts, notes, and background documents. These contain information that either has been included in the final record keeping copy of an investigative case or is not necessary to understand the final disposition of an investigation.

DISPOSITION: Temporary records

Action: Destroy at the time the investigative file is closed

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ITEM NO. 2
  1. Audit and Review Files

These include files produced during audits, evaluations, and other reviews that assist management in identifying, analyzing and resolving program and organizational issues.

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  1. Final reports, audit resolution files, and other documents (exclusive of workpapers) with significant historical value, including documents that:

    • Attracted substantial national or regional media attention;
    • Resulted in a congressional investigation; or
    • Resulted in substantive changes in NSF policies and procedures.

DISPOSITION: Permanent records

ACTION: Close out at the end of the following fiscal year. Retain in OIG for 5 years, then transfer to DAS. DAS will retire to FRC for 5 years, then transfer to NARA 10 years after closeout.

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  1. Final reports, audit resolution files, and other documents without significant historical value, and all workpapers.

DISPOSITION: Temporary records.

ACTION: Close out at the end of the following fiscal year. Retain in OIG for 5 years, then transfer to DAS. DAS will retire to FRC for 3 years. FRC will destroy 8 years after closeout.

ITEM NO. 3
  1. Policy and Procedure Files

These include all records that define or document the policies and procedures established for planning, directing, controlling, performing, and assessing OIG functions, including operations manuals, OIG policy bulletins, and standard operating procedures.

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  1. Final policies and procedures.

DISPOSITION: Permanent records.

ACTION: Close when superseded or obsolete. Transfer to DAS. DAS will retire to FRC for 10 years, then transfer to NARA.

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  1. Workpapers and background materials.

DISPOSITION: Temporary records.

ACTION: Destroy no later than 1 year after issuance.

ITEM NO. 4
  1. All Remaining Paper Documents and Files

This section covers all paper documents and files generated by OIG that are not addressed in the preceding sections.

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  1. Semiannual reports, management challenges reports, strategic plans, performance plans, performance reports, and related correspondence with significant historical value (see 2(a) above).

DISPOSITION: Permanent records.

ACTION: Close out files at end of fiscal year. Retain in OIG for 5 years, then transfer to DAS. DAS will retire to FRC for 5 years, then transfer to NARA 10 years after closeout.

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  1. Administrative documents, correspondence, and files not addressed in preceding sections.

DISPOSITION: Temporary records.

ACTION: For any records not covered by guidelines established by NARA’s General Records Schedules, OIG Administrative Officer will destroy no later than 1 year after closeout.

ITEM NO. 5
  1. Electronic Documents

These include electronic copies of records (including, but not limited to, e-mail, word processing documents, and spreadsheets) used solely to generate record keeping copies of the records.

DISPOSITION: Temporary records.

ACTION: Destroy or delete all electronic copies after the record keeping copies have been produced

ITEM NO. 6
  1. Retiring partial files

Normally, every effort should be made to retire a file in its entirety. However, in some cases, such as a voluminous file too large to store in OIG, we may need to send some records to FRC while retaining others for retirement at a later date. Partial files may be retired to FRC as long as OIG creates a record that links the portion that has already been retired to the remaining records when they are finally sent to FRC.

ACTION:

  1. When initially retiring a partial file, enter on NSF Form 36 (Request for Records Disposition and Index Lists) Section II, a notation that it is a partial file for referenced case #XXX, folder #YYY. The Index List must also include a notation next to the case number that it is a partial file.

  2. When retiring the final portion of the file, enter a cross reference in Section II to note that it is linked to case #XXX, folder #YYY. Indicate the accession number of the previously retired files, the box number, and the location within the box. The Index List must also include a notation next to the case number referencing the folder numbers retired previously under the initial accession number.



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