All federal documents and records are assigned a retention schedule that specifies the length of time they must be kept before they are destroyed or transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration for permanent storage, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The Federal Records Act of 1950 requires the creation and preservation of records that adequately document all federal agencies' organization, policies, procedures and essential decisions and transactions, explains the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
All federal agencies are required to have a records management program in place for properly handling their recorded information, which can be in electronic, printed or some other form, reports the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The National Archives and Records Administration is responsible for overseeing the appropriateness of the agencies' documentation, records retention and records disposition policies and programs, according to the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36, Chapter XII, Subchapter B, Part 1220.
Records with significant historical value are permanently retained at the National Archives, reports the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of the Chief Information Officer. Records assigned less significant legal, administrative, historical or financial importance follow the applicable retention schedule. Records are retained until their destruction date, which is not the same for all federal records. Some records must be kept for many years, while other records are destroyed after only a year.