How Does the Federal Government Dispose of Paper Documents?


Quick Answer

The federal government has several options for disposing of documents which include transfer to the national archives, storage facilities, transfers to other federal agencies, donation of some items or complete destruction by burning. The files have to be reviewed by a member of the National Archives team before any type of disposal is carried out. Specific permission is needed from the National Archives department to transfer, lend or store documents due to the documents needed to meet specific criteria to go through any of these steps.

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Full Answer

Once records or documents have been determined not to be needed for everyday use in a governmental office or department the determination of disposal has to take place. The majority of federal records are considered temporary which means they should only be kept until a specific event is over or a set time period. Once documents are determined to be temporary, they are normally destroyed by burning them.

There are rare occasions where they are loaned out, but it not the normal procedure. Permanent records are stored for historical value or possible reuse, but there are very few permanent records. Each agency has to go through the determination and storage process individually so the amount of temporary and permanent records can vary from place to place.

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