1.15.6 Managing Electronic Records

Manual Transmittal

November 23, 2016

Purpose

(1) This transmits revised IRM 1.15.6, Records and Information Management, Managing Electronic Records.

Background

This IRM covers the creation, maintenance, use, and disposition of federal records created using IRS electronic information systems and personal computers, including electronic mail and other electronic applications.

Managing information in appropriate recordkeeping systems will ensure that IRS is compliant with all records management policies and regulations as established by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Additionally, management of all agency information (hard copy and electronic) will improve the agency’s ability to identify the most current information in a timely manner, increase business efficiency, and provide the correct information for litigation and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

The information users create and receive day-to-day may or may not be records and the users need to delete non-record emails when no longer needed for reference; apply the appropriate retention periods to all information regardless of record status (36 CFR 1222.16, How are non-records managed?).

This guidance will help to ensure that IRS records are appropriately managed, retained, and archived. IRS will provide guidance and training where necessary on implementing the requirements provided in this policy.

Material Changes

(1) IRM 1.15.6 contains guidance on Managing Electronic Records, Use of Social Media and Collaboration Tools.

(2) IRM 1.15.6.1 - Revised the title to Program Scope and Objectives to properly reflect the information communicated in this subsection. Included important information to conform to the new internal and management control standards under the following titles:

  1. IRM 1.15.6.1.1, Background - Added information about managing electronic messaging and email records.

  2. IRM 1.15.6.1.2, Authority - Added legal authorities about managing government records.

  3. IRM 1.15.6.1.3, Roles and Responsibilities - This IRM is applicable for ALL employees and contractors.

  4. IRM 1.15.6.1.4, Terms - Compiled a list of frequently used terms in managing government records.

  5. IRM 1.15.6.1.5, Acronyms - Compiled a list of frequently used abbreviations and their terms in managing electronic messaging and email records.

  6. IRM 1.15.6.1.6, Related Resources - Added related resources here.

(3) IRM 1.15.6.5 (2) - Creation, Use, and Maintenance of Unstructured Electronic Data - Removed outdated content.

(4) IRM 1.15.6.6 - Standards for Managing Electronic Mail Records - Added new content on electronic mail records management, including new procedures as follows:

  1. IRM 1.15.6.6.1, IRS Account-based Approach Explained - Added content on management of email records.

  2. IRM 1.15.6.6.2, Email Sent or Received Using Government-issued Communications Tools - Added content on managing communications received on government-issued devices.

  3. IRM 1.15.6.6.3, Email Created Using Personal or Non-IRS Communications Tools (Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Program) - Added content on managing communications received as part of BYOD.

  4. IRM 1.15.6.6.4, Email Created Using Personal or Non-IRS Communications Tools (not part of the BYOD Program) - Added content on IRS employees prohibited from using personal, or non-IRS email and other communication tools to conduct IRS business, except in emergency situations as described in this IRM section.

  5. IRM 1.15.6.6.5, Encrypted Email - Added content on IRS requirement to unencrypt/remove any restrictions when transferring permanent records to NARA.

  6. IRM 1.15.6.6.6, Litigation Holds - Added content when email cannot be deleted while litigation is pending.

  7. IRM 1.15.6.6.7, Email Backup Systems - Added content on system and file backup not providing appropriate recordkeeping functionalities.

(5) IRM 1.15.6.13 Managing Records Stored on Electronic Media - Added content about storing record materials on a compliant recordkeeping system.

(6) IRM 1.15.6.14 - Use of Social Media - Revised the title and added information on managing records according to the content and not the format.

(7) IRM 1.15.6.15 - Use of Collaboration Tools - Added new subsection and information based on Interim Guidance Memorandum PGLD-01-0716-0004, Electronic Message Usage and Preservation, issued July 29, 2016 implementing records management policy updates for the usage and preservation of all electronic messaging systems (including instant and text messaging platforms).

(8) IRM 1.15.6.15.1 - Use of Agency-approved Electronic Messaging Systems - Added content on use of agency-approved electronic messaging systems.

(9) IRM 1.15.6.15.2 - Preserving Electronic Messages - Added content on recordkeeping responsibilities for preserving instant messages and text messaging.

(10) Exhibit 1.15.6-2 - Common Questions about Electronic Messaging - Added new exhibit.

(11) Area Records Manager (ARM) has been changed to Records Specialist throughout this IRM section.

(12) Editorial changes made throughout this IRM section.

Effect on Other Documents

This IRM supersedes IRM 1.15.6, dated August 12, 2015. This IRM also incorporates Interim Guidance Memorandum PGLD-01-0716-0004, Electronic Message Usage and Preservation, dated July 29, 2016.

Audience

All divisions and functions

Effective Date

(11-23-2016)


Celia Doggette
Director, Identity and Records Protection (IRP)
Privacy, Governmental Liaison and Disclosure (PGLD)

Program Scope and Objectives

  1. Purpose. This IRM section covers the following:

    1. Basic requirements for electronic records, including electronic mail (email).

    2. Creation, maintenance, retention, and disposition of these records.

    3. Usage and preservation of all electronic messaging systems (including instant and text messaging platforms) that allow users to send messages in real time or for later viewing, and are used to send messages from one account to another account or from one account to many accounts.

    4. An account-management approach to email records management.

    5. Recordkeeping requirements when using personal or non-IRS communications tools to conduct IRS business.

    6. IRS compliance requirements with National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) records management policies and regulations, improvement in business efficiency and faster responses to litigation and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

  2. Audience. These procedures apply to all employees and contractors.

  3. Program Owner. The Records and Information Management (RIM) office, under Privacy, Governmental Liaison and Disclosure (PGLD) is the program office responsible for oversight of the Servicewide records management policy.

Background

  1. Electronic messages created, sent or received using agency electronic messaging systems, government-owned devices, and authorized personal devices may be records requiring preservation.

  2. Managing email records by account should improve email records management by simplifying the records schedule for email, and automating email capture and management. It should generally reduce the records management burden on individual email users by:

    • Basing email records retention on the mailbox owner’s role in IRS rather than on the content of each email record; and

    • Automating email capture and management according to the simplified, role-based retention periods.

Authority

  1. The term “records” is all recorded information (hard copy or electronic) created or received in the course of transacting government business that serves as evidence of the decisions, policies, and other activities of the agency.

  2. 44 U.S.C. Chapters 21, 29, 31, and 33

  3. 36 CFR Chapter XII, Subpart B - Part 1222 - Agency Records Management Responsibilities

  4. 36 CFR Chapter XII, Subparts B - Part 1235 - Transfer of Records to the National Archives of the United States

  5. 36 CFR Chapter XII, Subpart B - Part 1236 - Electronic Records Management

  6. OMB M-12-18, Managing Government Records Directive

  7. NARA Bulletin 2012-02, Guidance on Managing Content on Shared Drives

  8. NARA Bulletin 2014-04, Revised Format Guidance for the Transfer of Permanent Electronic Records

  9. Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015, Section 402, IRS Employees Prohibited from Using Personal Email Accounts for Official Business

  10. NARA Bulletin 2015-04, Metadata Guidance for the Transfer of Permanent Electronic Records

Responsibilities

  1. This IRM is used by ALL employees and contractors to help comply with electronic records management requirements.

Terms

  1. Records - all recorded information such as books, papers, maps, photographs, machine-readable materials, or other documentary materials, regardless of form or characteristics, made or received by a Federal agency under Federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation by that agency or its legitimate successor as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the United States Government or because of the informational value of data in them. (44 U.S.C. § 3301)

  2. Non-records - work-related documents that do not qualify as records such as duplicate copies, convenient/reference copies, and stocks of publications.

  3. Personal Materials - anything belonging to an individual that is not used to conduct agency business.

Acronyms

  1. The table lists commonly used acronyms and their definitions:

    Acronym Definition
    BYOD Bring Your Own Device
    CFR Code of Federal Regulations
    FOIA Freedom of Information Act
    GRS General Records Schedules, Document 12829
    NARA National Archives and Records Administration
    OCS Microsoft Office Communications Server
    OMB Office of Management and Budget
    POCs Points of Contact
    PST Personal Storage Files
    RCS Records Control Schedules, Document 12990
    RIM Records and Information Management
    USC United States Code

Related Resources

  1. The following table lists the primary sources of guidance on managing electronic records:

    IRM Title Guidance on
    IRM 1.10.3 Standards for Using Email Standards for using email in the most effective and productive manner
    IRM 10.5.1 Privacy Policy IRS privacy policy
    IRM 10.8.1 Policy and Guidance The foundation to implement and manage security for information systems security within the IRS
    IRM 10.8.26 Mobile Computing Device Security Policy The minimum security controls required to safeguard IRS mobile computing devices
    IRM 11.3.1 Introduction to Disclosure The disclosure program and the legal authority for the program
    IRM 25.3.1 General Guidelines General information regarding suits that may be filed by or against the United States
  2. Employees will find helpful information on the following websites:

Basic Electronic Records Management Definitions

  1. An electronic record contains information recorded in a form that is machine-readable (e.g., information that only a computer can process, and which, without a computer, would not be understandable to people). Recorded electronic information becomes a federal record when it satisfies the statutory definition of a “record,” and is the same definition applied to information recorded on paper. Basic definitions pertaining to electronic records management are:

    1. Collaboration Tools - used to allow multiple users access to the same document for purposes of sharing information.

    2. Data Base - (in electronic records) - a set of data, consisting of at least one file or a group of integrated files, usually stored in one location and made available to several users at the same time for various applications.

    3. Data Base Management System - a software system used to access and retrieve data stored in a database.

    4. Data File - numeric, textual, or graphic information that is organized in a strictly-prescribed form and format.

    5. Documentation - records required to plan, develop, operate, maintain, and use electronic records. Included are system specifications, file specifications, codebooks, record layouts, user guides, and output specifications.

    6. Electronic Information System - a system that provides access to computerized federal records and other information.

    7. Electronic Mail System (Email) - a computer application used to create, receive, and transmit messages and other documents. Exception: Excluded from this definition are: file transfer utilities (software that transmits files between users but does not retain any transmission data); data systems used to collect and process data that have been organized into data files or data bases on either personal computers or mainframe computers; and word processing documents not transmitted on an email system.

    8. Electronic Mail Message - a record created or received on an electronic mail system including briefing notes, more formal or substantive narrative documents, and any attachments, such as word processing and other electronic documents, which may be transmitted with the message.

    9. Electronic Receipt - information in email systems regarding date and time of receipt of a message, and/or acknowledgment of receipt or access by addressee(s).

    10. Electronic Recordkeeping System - a system whereby records are collected, organized, and categorized to facilitate their preservation, retrieval, use, and disposition.

    11. Electronic Transmission Data - information in email systems regarding the identities of sender and addressee(s), and the date and time messages were sent (sometimes referred to as metadata).

    12. Records Management Application (RMA) - software used to capture, categorize, locate, and identify records due for disposition, as well as store, retrieve, and document the disposition of records stored within its repository.

    13. Social Media - internet or web-based technologies designed to disseminate information through social interaction. Examples include Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, MySpace, and other such technologies.

    14. Structured Electronic Data - data that resides in fixed fields within a record or file such as relational databases or Excel spreadsheets.

    15. Unstructured Electronic Data - data that does not reside in fixed fields, but is free-form text such as word processing documents.

Responsibility for Issuance of Guidance

  1. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is responsible for issuing standards for management of federal records created or received on electronic systems. These standards apply to all Federal agency offices using office automation or information systems and will be followed by the IRS. The complete version of 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1236 – Electronic Records Management, is available at http://www.ecfr.gov/.

Creation, Use, and Maintenance of Structured Electronic Data

  1. For electronic information systems that produce, use, or store data files, disposition instructions for the data will be incorporated into the systems’ design.

  2. IRS offices will maintain adequate and up-to-date technical documentation for each electronic system that produces, uses, or stores data files. The minimum documentation required is as follows:

    1. Narrative description of the system, physical and technical characteristics of the records, including a records layout that describes each field (name, size, starting or relative position);

    2. A description of the form of the data (alphabetic, zoned decimal, packed decimal, or numeric);

    3. A data dictionary, or the equivalent information associated with a database management system, i.e., a description of the relationship between data elements in databases, and any other technical information needed to read or process the records;

    4. A copy of the user’s manual or handbook on how to operate and use the system or database;

    5. Completion of IRS Form 12240, Information Systems Description, IRS Form 14510, New Records Series Data Collection, or other documentation verifying records scheduling authorization; and

    6. A sample of the data, reports, or other documents the system or database may produce and to whom they are provided.

      Note:

      These elements and items will be submitted to the Records Specialist for processing and submission to the Records and Information Management (RIM) Program Office.

  3. Capital Planning and Investment Controls. In accordance with OMB Circular A-130, IRS must incorporate records management functions into the design, development, and implementation of information systems. In addition to ensuring the accessibility and proper accountability for their information systems, IRS must ensure that all electronic systems are evaluated through the Capital Planning and Investment Controls (CPIC) process. The current CPIC questionnaire includes a section on Records Management. It is important for these questions to be addressed at the beginning of the system development process to ensure that records management functionality is part of the system design phase.

  4. Electronic System Shutdown (related to projects that follow the Enterprise Life Cycle [ELC] process). Electronic system owners must follow appropriate shutdown procedures when a system is scheduled for cancellation. The process is defined through a systematic series of actions to ensure orderly and efficient performance of essential shutdown activities. The following records management actions must be taken when migrating, retiring, or shutting down an electronic system:

    1. If information is to be migrated to another system you must:
      1) Notify the RIM Program Office of changes to system (i.e., name change, or changes in functionality, etc.);
      2) Determine if any changes should be made to the disposition of the new system based on changes in functionality; and
      3) Manage the new system in accordance with an approved disposition authority.

    2. If the information is not being migrated to a new system you must:
      1) Notify the RIM Program Office that this information will no longer be collected; and
      2) Establish a plan to manage any legacy record data that has not yet met its approved disposition.

Creation, Use, and Maintenance of Unstructured Electronic Data

  1. At a minimum, electronic recordkeeping systems that maintain the official copy of unstructured data such as text documents, emails, presentations, audio video files, image files, and PDF files electronically will provide:

    1. A method for all authorized users of the system to retrieve desired documents, such as an indexing or text search system;

    2. An appropriate level of security to ensure integrity of the documents;

    3. An appropriate audit trail or tracking system for data manipulation and version identification;

    4. A standard interchange format, when necessary, to permit the exchange of documents on electronic media between IRS computers using different software/operating systems and the conversion or migration of documents on electronic media from one system to another, including the removal of encryption and password protection;

    5. The disposition of the documents including, when necessary, the requirements for transferring permanent records to NARA (see IRM 1.15.6.9Retention and Disposition of Electronic Records );and

    6. Authorized administrators with the ability to remotely access, copy, transfer, and “lock down” files as needed to preserve electronically stored information that is subject to a litigation hold.

  2. Additional information regarding the management of unstructured electronic data is forthcoming.

Standards for Managing Electronic Mail Records

  1. The scope and objectives of the revised electronic mail records management procedures are:

    1. Email messages and attachments

    2. Personal Storage Files (.PSTs)

    3. Calendar appointments

    4. Tasks

    5. Messaging conversations (e.g., OCS and Lync)

    6. Deleted folders

    7. Sent folders

    8. Junk folders

    9. Archive folders

    10. Conversation History folders

  2. The revised procedures implement OMB M-12-18, Part I, Goal 1.2, which requires federal agencies to "manage all email records 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" .

    Note:

    Refer to Exhibit 1.15.6-1Common Questions About Email, for answers to common email questions.

  3. The revised procedures implement the guidance in National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Bulletin 2013-02, Guidance on a New Approach to Managing Email Records. This guidance provides a simplified, account-based approach to managing email records in an automated electronic recordkeeping system.

  4. The revised procedures will in the future, ensure that record emails are no longer stored in .PST files on individual hard drives.

    Note:

    This account-based approach currently applies only to IRS email accounts, as defined above. All other records, either paper or electronic, are governed by Document 12990, IRS Records Control Schedules or Document 12829, General Records Schedules.

IRS Account-based Approach Explained

  1. Under the account-based approach, IRS manages email records based on the role of the email account user and/or office rather than on the content of each email record. Email records are captured and managed according to user role using the following retention approach:

    Role Position Email Records Management
    Senior Officials
    • Commissioner

    • Deputy Commissioners

    • Advisors, and other top level positions identified in the IRS Organizational Chart

    • Employees in "Acting" or "Detail" status to any of these positions

    IRS will retain permanent email records according to the approved email records schedule and then accession them into the National Archives of the United States.

    Note:

    The IRS Records and Information Management (RIM) Program Office and the Information Technology (IT) office maintain the official list of Senior Officials’ email accounts.

    Executive and Senior Managers
    • Executives

    • Senior Managers

    • Employees in "Acting" or "Detail" status to any of these positions

    IRS will retain these email records according to the approved email records schedule and delete them when 15 years old.
    All other IRS employees IRS will retain according to the email records schedule, and delete when seven (7) years old.
  2. Exceptions:

    1. Non-Records: ALL account holders must delete non-records when no longer needed for reference. Non-records include: non-business related messages, "broadcast" messages (e.g., IRS messages to all staff), and advertisements.

    2. Personal Messages: ALL account holders must delete personal messages to ensure separation from record email messages. Personal messages are those messages from family/friends or colleagues that do not have an effect on the conduct of agency business.

    3. Short-term (Transitory) Messages: ALL account holders must delete short-term (transitory) messages immediately or once final action is complete. Short-term (transitory) messages are those business-related messages such as routine exchanges of information, inquiries about availability and other routine actions.

    4. Email records retained with related records: When business needs require email records to be retained with other records (such as part of a case file), you should forward or copy these email records to the appropriate recordkeeping system (i.e., SharePoint site, File Share, or paper file) and maintain according to the Document 12990, IRS Records Control Schedules or Document 12829, General Records Schedules. This account-based approach does not replace existing business practices that require email messages and other related records to be retained together in established recordkeeping systems, which may be paper or electronic.

Email Sent or Received Using Government-issued Communications Tools

  1. Business-related emails sent or received on government-issued devices such as cell phones, smart phones, blackberries, etc. will be managed as part of the IRS Exchange Server email environment in accordance with the account-based email policies set forth in the previous sections.

    Note:

    The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015, Section 402 IRS Employees Prohibited from Using Personal Email Accounts for Official Business states that "No officer or employee of the Internal Revenue Service may use a personal email account to conduct any official business of the Government" .

Email Created Using Personal or Non-IRS Communications Tools (Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Program)

  1. Business-related emails sent or received as part of BYOD will be managed in accordance with the account-based email policies set forth in previous sections.

Email Created Using Personal or Non-IRS Communications Tools (not part of the BYOD Program)

  1. In accordance with IRM 10.8.1, Information Technology (IT) Security, Policy and Guidance and Interim Guidance Memorandum PGLD-10-0616-0003, Using IRS and Personal Email Accounts, to be incorporated into the email section of IRM 10.5.1, Privacy Policy, IRS employees are prohibited from using personal, or non-IRS, email and other communication tools to conduct IRS business, except in emergency situations (IRM 10.8.26.3.11, SC-System and Communications Protection).

    1. Business-related communications must be copied to the employee’s official email account at the time of transmission or incorporated into the IRS’ recordkeeping systems within 20 days of creation or transmission of the email (44 U.S.C. § 2901) by copying or forwarding a message, cutting and pasting text and/or graphics, attaching a file, capturing a screen shot, or documenting a verbal conversation in writing.

    2. Maintain business-related communications in accordance with the appropriate records management policies.

    3. Copies left behind on personal devices must be appropriately managed and deleted in a timely manner after they are saved in a compliant recordkeeping system. All government-owned information is subject to discovery and FOIA.

Encrypted Email

  1. The Records and Information Management (RIM) Program Office will provide oversight for the following:

    • For email accounts containing permanent email, work with the appropriate business unit functions to ensure that encrypted emails are unencrypted prior to transfer to NARA. This includes deactivation of passwords or other forms of file level encryption that would impede access to record data.

    • When transferring permanent records to NARA, RIM will ensure that any restrictions on the use and examination of records, such as those under IRC §§ 6103 and the FOIA are included in documentation accompanying the transfer.

Litigation Holds

  1. For email accounts subject to litigation holds (IRM 25.3.1, Litigation and Judgments, General Guidelines) and IRM 34.7.1.1.4, Discovery Obligations to Preserve Evidence Including Electronically Stored Information (ESI), potentially relevant email or instant messages cannot be deleted while litigation hold is in effect. If account holders are separating from the service, and their information is under a litigation hold, they MUST notify their managers who MUST ensure that upon separation, all information is maintained and accessible until the litigation hold is lifted. This includes ensuring that ESI on separating employees’ laptop or other personal computer equipment is preserved, and not erased by information technology personnel. For further information on separating employee guidance, see IRM 1.15.5, Relocating/Removing Records.

  2. Email or instant messages may be subject to other holds, such as in connection with congressional inquiries and FOIA requests, and procedures in the preceding paragraph will apply.

Email Backup Systems

  1. System and file backup processes and media do not provide the appropriate recordkeeping functionalities and must not be used as the agency electronic recordkeeping system.

  2. Backup systems should adhere to prescribed management requirements as defined in Document 12829, General Records Schedules, GRS 3.2 items 040 and 050.

Judicial Use of Electronic Records

  1. Electronic records may be admitted in evidence to federal courts for use in court proceedings if trustworthiness is established by thoroughly documenting the recordkeeping system's operation and the controls imposed upon it [Federal Rules of Evidence 803(8)]. IRS offices should implement the following procedures to enhance the legal admissibility of electronic records:

    1. Document that similar kinds of records generated and stored electronically are created by the same processes each time and have a standardized retrieval approach;

    2. Verify that security and audit procedures prevent unauthorized addition, modification, or deletion of a record and ensure system protection against such problems as power interruptions;

    3. Identify the electronic media on which records are stored throughout their life cycle, the maximum time span that records remain on each storage medium, and the NARA-approved disposition of all records; and

    4. Coordinate all of the above with the Office of Chief Counsel, the IRS Records Officer and senior IRM and records management staff.

Security of Electronic Records

  1. IRS offices will implement and maintain an effective records security program that incorporates the following:

    1. Ensures that only authorized personnel have access to electronic records.

    2. Provides for backup and recovery of records to protect against information loss or corruption.

    3. Ensures that appropriate agency personnel are trained to safeguard sensitive or classified electronic records.

    4. Minimizes the risk of unauthorized alteration or erasure of electronic records.

    5. Ensures that electronic records security is included in computer systems security plans prepared pursuant to the Computer Security Act of 1987.

Retention and Disposition of Electronic Records

  1. The IRS Records Officer is the liaison with NARA and customer organizations for ensuring that electronic records and the related documentation are retained for as long as needed by the IRS. These disposition and retention procedures shall include provisions for:

    1. Scheduling all electronic records, as well as related documentation and indexes, by submitting an SF-115, Request for Records Disposition Authority to NARA or, in some instances by applying NARAs General Records Schedules. The information in electronic information systems, including those operated for the IRS by a contractor, will be scheduled as soon as possible, but no later than one year after implementation of the system.

    2. Transferring a copy of the electronic records and related documentation and indexes to NARA at the time specified in the records control schedule for permanent records.

      Note:

      SF-115 is completed by the IRS Records Management staff only.

  2. Records created within email systems, which meet the criteria of a federal record, are subject to the same retention periods as the paper or hard-copy versions. Therefore, these records must be retained electronically according to the NARA-approved disposition authority or printed and associated with the appropriate recordkeeping system. Temporary email records can be deleted only when they are eligible for destruction or when they have been printed and associated with the appropriate recordkeeping system. See additional information on the retention and transfer of permanent electronic records in subsection IRM 1.15.6.11.

  3. At the direction of a management official as to what is considered a record, the Email/Systems Administrators will establish procedures for regular recopying, reformatting, and other necessary maintenance to ensure the retention and usability of electronic records throughout their authorized life cycle.

  4. The responsibility for instructing users on how to copy and archive electronic mail records rests with the Email/Systems Administrators at the user levels. With the proper direction from a management official, the user and/or end recipient should possess the expertise to identify and determine which records are worthy of preservation and/or archiving.

  5. The disposition of electronic mail records that have been relocated to an appropriate recordkeeping system is governed by schedules that control the records in that system. If the records in the system are not scheduled, contact the Area Records Manager or the RIM Program Office to get them scheduled and approved by NARA.

    Note:

    Approved disposition authorities for electronic records created as part of tax processing systems are included in separate Records Control Schedules 8 through 37 based on their use and/or associated activity (published in Document 12990). Many other administrative systems are included in the General Records Schedules 1 through 27 (published in Document 12829). Questions concerning the scheduling of an electronic system should be directed to the IRS RIM Program Office.

Transfer Media and Formats for Permanent Records

  1. The legal requirements for the transfer of permanent records to NARA are documented in 36 CFR 1235 and set forth in general form in the paragraphs below. Consult the IRS RIM Program Office for more detailed instructions and guidance on the transfer for permanent IRS records.

Magnetic Tape

  1. IRS offices may transfer electronic records to NARA on magnetic tape using either open-reel magnetic tape or tape cartridges. Open-reel tape should be on 1/1 inch 9-track tape reels recorded at 1600 or 6250 bytes per inch and blocked no higher than 32,760 bytes per block. Tape cartridges should be 18-track 3480-class cartridges recorded at 37,871 bpi and blocked at no more than 32,760 bytes per block.

Compact Disk, Read Only Memory (CD-ROM) and Digital Video Disk (DVD)

  1. CD-ROMs may be used as transfer media for fielded data files or text files if they conform to the International Standards Organization (ISO) 9660 Standard and to the American Code for Information Interchange (ASCII); are not compressed unless NARA has approved the transfer of the compressed form in advance; and are individually addressable. The CD-ROMs may contain software files and temporary records, but permanent records must be in files that contain only permanent records.

  2. DVDs may be used to transfer certain types of permanent files. It is recommended to look for gold or silver colored DVDs for the best quality. If transferring records that have been copied to a DVD from another media, agencies must transfer the premaster videotape and two copies of the discs. All permanent files must be on one DVD and not mixed with temporary files.

Formats

  1. Records will be in a format that is not dependent on specific hardware or software, written in ASCII or EBCDIC with all extraneous characters removed (except records length indicators for variable length records, marks delimiting a data element, field, record or file, or Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) tags). Records should not be compressed unless NARA has approved the transfer in the compressed form in advance. If the records are in ASCII, the electronic files should have standard ANSI labels as specified in Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) Publication 79 and/or ISO Standard 9600. If the records are in EBCDIC, the electronic files should have standard IBM OS or DOS labels.

  2. Data files and databases shall be transferred as flat files or as rectangular tables, that is, as two-dimensional arrays, lists, or tables. All records in a database or elements in a relational database should have the same logical format. Each data element within a record should contain only one data value. A record should not contain nested repeating groups of data items.

  3. Textual Documents in electronic form should be transferred as plain ASCII files; such files may contain SGML or XML tags.

  4. Electronic mail, scanned images of textual records, portable document format (PDF) records, digital photographic records, web content records, and digital spatial data files should be transferred to NARA in accordance with requirements available at http://www.archives.gov/records-mgmt/policy/transfer-guidance.html.

Transfer of Documentation to Support Permanent Records

  1. IRS offices must provide adequate technical documentation for each permanent electronic file identified for transfer to NARA. Adequate documentation contains enough information to allow the records to be interpreted and understood in context. The extent, format, and content of the documentation varies for different types of electronic records. The documentation for a text file differs from the documentation for survey data or statistical files and from that for indices or tracking files. Within the types of records, documentation can vary as well. One survey might have very different documentation than another survey. This subsection provides some guidance to IRS offices regarding the content and potential sources of adequate documentation for permanent electronic records.

Sources of Documentation

  1. Information about documentation might be in publications, administrative reports, annual reports, memoranda, user notes, system guides, inventories or control systems for electronic records, file descriptions, Privacy Act notices, or manual or automated data dictionaries. The information about documentation is more important than the format.

Format of Documentation

  1. Some of the documentation for electronic records may only exist in paper form. When the documentation is in electronic format, identify and transfer the documentation data as separate files along with the files containing the electronic records. The transfer format standards for electronic records also apply to documentation files. Microform copies of documentation, when available, are also useful.

Scope of the Documentation

  1. Three main types of information make up documentation: technical specifications, information about file content and structure, and context. Provided below is more information on each type:

    1. IRS Form 12240, and/or required technical specifications adequate for servicing and interpreting each file.

    2. Each file requires a specific definition of its structure and content. This includes a record layout and a codebook for each field containing coded information. Documentation may be in data dictionaries, file, user, codebooks, or system manuals.

    3. Contextual information explains how the electronic records fit into the IRS programs or mission. This information answers the questions: "Who created the Records?" and "Why?" and "For What Purpose?"

    4. If several data files containing related information are transferred, the documentation should include a description or diagram of how the files relate to each other. At a minimum, the documentation should specify the key fields, including primary keys, used to uniquely identify each record in a file, and the foreign keys, which relate records in one file to records in another file.

Transfer Forms

  1. The forms required to transfer permanent records to NARA are set forth below:

    1. The Standard Form (SF) 258, Agreement to Transfer Records to the National Archives of the United States, (completed by the IRS Records Staff only – see Exhibit 1.15.5-1 for a sample).

    2. NA Form 14097, Technical Description for Transfer of Electronic Records to the National Archives, or its equivalent, IRS Form 12240, must be completed and provided by the program office for attachment to the SF-258.

  2. Contact your Records Specialist found at https://organization.ds.irsnet.gov/sites/vldp/kr/Records-and-Information-Management-Area-Specialist-Map.pdf or the RIM Program Office for instructions and assistance in completing the systems form and identification of other documents necessary for transfer of the electronic records.

  3. Submit the NA Form 14097, or its equivalent, IRS Form 12240, along with the identified documentation through your Records Specialist to the IRS RIM Program Office for completion, approval, and submission to NARA.

  4. NARA Bulletin 2015-04, Metadata Guidance for the Transfer of Permanent Electronic Records, defines the minimum set of metadata elements that must accompany transfers of permanent electronic records to the National Archives. Federal agencies are required to transfer documentation adequate for NARA to identify, service, and interpret permanent electronic records for as long as they are needed.

Managing Records Stored on Electronic Media

  1. IRS offices must manage information (records/non-records) stored on such media as CDs, DVDs, removable hard drives, audio/video tapes, and USB drives. These media types are considered fragile and susceptible to record modification, erasure, and damage. IRS must prepare for technical obsolescence when using such media.

  2. Storage of official record material must be done in accordance with approved records dispositions. All functionally similar records should be stored together and standard naming conventions should be utilized to ensure faster retrieval and movement to a compliant recordkeeping system.

  3. An inventory of all removable media must be maintained.

  4. All removable media must be properly labeled.

  5. All removable media must be stored under proper environmental conditions and all security precautions must be taken to protect information throughout the life cycle of the records.

  6. Information stored on removable media must be periodically reviewed for deterioration to ensure availability of record information.

  7. A migration plan must be established to ensure access to record information due to technological obsolescence.

  8. For more detailed guidance on managing records stored on electronic media, see the RIM Program Knowledge Management website at https://organization.ds.irsnet.gov/sites/vldp/RM/Pages/Home.aspx under the employees section.

Use of Social Media

  1. IRS must manage record material produced or posted using social media such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and other similar technologies.

  2. The following records management considerations must be addressed with the use of these new technologies:

    1. The IRS must capture and manage, in accordance with an approved Records Control Schedule (RCS), information that meets the statutory definition of a federal record (44 U.S.C. § 3301).

    2. More than one office/agency may have a responsibility for the same records, depending on their use.

    3. Records must be managed in accordance with the content and not the format.

    4. Records determined to have permanent value must be transferred to NARA in an approved format. Records may have to be migrated from original format to one accepted by NARA at the time of transfer.

  3. For additional information and guidance, please contact the IRS RIM program office.

Use of Collaboration Tools

  1. IRS must ensure the proper management of record material produced using collaboration tools such as Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) and Lync, and any other instant messaging or collaboration environments (e.g., wikis, blogs, web portals, etc.). Collaboration may happen in multiple contexts, such as office to office, agency to agency, multiple agencies, or public to agency (i.e., via interactive websites).

    The following records management considerations must be addressed with the use of these technologies:

    1. Information that meets the statutory definition of a federal record (44 U.S.C. § 3301) must be captured and managed in accordance with an approved Records Control Schedule.

    2. Records must be captured in an accessible, usable format. Most collaboration software and instant messaging clients reside on the agency server and the IRS can capture information at the server level.

    3. If the collaboration environment is not located on the agency’s network, you must discuss procedures for the capture of record material with the records office.


    4. Contact the IRS Records Office via email at *Records Management with recordkeeping questions.


    Note:

    This guidance does not cover voicemail/ViewMail or the exchange and sharing of information through Live Meeting, group training sessions or similar functions of a collaboration system. Business unit creators are responsible for the official maintenance of training/presentation/briefing materials shared (or updated) using Live Meeting or screen shares. The instant messaging software server is not the recordkeeping repository for those documents, and copies maintained by meeting participants would be considered reference material eligible for destruction when no longer needed. The business unit initiating a Live Meeting or share session to conduct business must make a decision as to the most appropriate method for documenting the session, such as an audio recording or written minutes. All official meeting records including the agenda, minutes, handouts, presentation materials, and recordings, should be maintained outside the session by the host business unit in accordance with an approved disposition authority for that office.

Use of Agency-approved Electronic Messaging Systems

  1. Email should be used for official business. Guidance for the management of email records is found in IRM 1.15.6.6, Standards for Managing Electronic Mail Records. See also Interim Guidance Memorandum PGLD-10-0616-0003, Using IRS and Personal Email Accounts, to be incorporated into the email section of IRM 10.5.1, Privacy Policy.

  2. Electronic messaging systems such as Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) and Lync should only be used for informal business communications and collaborations. Examples of suitable use include, but are not limited to:

    1. Real-time, quick communications among employees relating to requests for information/status that require no follow-up actions or business decisions and do not form the basis for action or decision, such as communications to inform an employee that a document is ready for signature, a request to review draft work products (including attachments), or to inquire about an employee’s availability for a phone call or meeting.

    2. Casual reminders, such as notification about a change to one’s schedule, reminder of a deadline, or scheduling of work-related trips and visits.

  3. Employees should not use electronic messaging systems such as OCS and Lync instant messaging to engage in discussions regarding policy matters, business decisions, or documentation of other mission-critical functions. This will result in the creation of a federal record that requires preservation beyond the closeout of the instant messaging session. Examples of unsuitable use include, but are not limited to:

    1. Communications documenting IRM reviews and policy approvals, or decisions.

    2. Discussions about examinations and/or case processing and resolution.

    3. Communications regarding personnel matters and performance (e.g., disciplinary actions, disputes or grievances).

  4. In accordance with IRM 10.8.1.4.1.18.2, Telecommunication Devices, the use of text messaging with government-furnished BlackBerrys or cellular phones to conduct official business is prohibited. Text messaging may only be used in emergencies, such as when the IRS network is down and there is an urgent need to communicate or in disaster recovery situations (IRM 10.8.26.3.11, SC-System and Communications Protection).

  5. Electronic messages must adhere to the general rules for the privacy, security, transmission, and handling of sensitive but unclassified (SBU) information and personally identifiable information (PII) contained in IRM 10.5.1, Privacy Policy and IRM 10.8.1, Information Technology Security, Policy and Guidance. OCS and Lync are acceptable and convenient methods of automatic encrypted file transmission but do not supersede policy or work processes for certain programs and offices. Only access or share SBU data or PII with an IRS employee who has a need for it in performing official duties.

  6. The following chart includes some examples of unsuitable use of instant messaging systems:

    Unsuitable Use of Instant Messaging
    If message pertains to... Such as... Then... Why
    Requests for managerial approvals in connection with examination or case-related decisions, closing actions or requests to assert penalties
    I am on a call and I think I can obtain compromise.


    I just finalized my review of the file and wanted to know if I could ask your approval of a recommended course of action.
    Instant messaging should not be used. Instant messaging should not be used for policy determinations, decisions, or documentation of other mission-critical functions. If used in this manner, the message must be preserved in association with related records and in accordance with applicable records schedules.
    Personnel or performance matters
    I want to know why I did not get an Outstanding on my annual performance appraisal.


    I would like to request two days off next week.
    Instant messaging should not be used. Instant messaging should not be used to document or review personnel or performance matters. If used in this manner, the message must be preserved in association with related records and in accordance with recordkeeping guidance found in Document 12829, General Records Schedules.

Preserving Electronic Messages

  1. This guidance provides specific instructions for preserving Microsoft OCS and Lync instant messages and text messaging. Recordkeeping responsibilities must also be considered when using other electronic messaging systems that are currently available or made available in future deployments.

  2. Instant Messages

    1. Messages that are records with a short-term business need (transitory) do not need to be preserved. Examples of short-term instant messages include, but are not limited to:

      • Personal observations about work-related topics, but not for the conduct of agency business.

      • Inquiries about availability.

      • Quick communications that require no follow-up actions or business decisions and do not form the basis for action or decision.

        Note:

        It is the employee’s obligation to ensure messages that are sent or received and determined to be substantive in nature are appropriately preserved (see 2.b, below and Exhibit 1.15.6-2 ).

    2. In the event an instant message is created and is not transitory (see 2. a, above), it must be saved BEFORE the message is closed out. The employee will have the ability to save messages to the Conversation History folder in his or her Outlook. OCS users should press Shift + F12 and Lync users should press Ctrl + S.

      Note:

      This guidance is specific to the preservation of records using the chat function of instant messaging systems. Any attachments will not be automatically saved using Shift + F12 or Ctrl + S. Recordkeeping attachments must be saved to the appropriate case, policy, project, or other business file. All other copies transmitted for sharing or reference purposes do not need to be saved.


      Once the message is in the Conversation History folder, follow the guidance below:

      • If messages require association with records in another recordkeeping system (as part of a case, policy, project, or other official business file), employees should use the “File, Save As” function or print to PDF to incorporate the instant message into the recordkeeping system.

      • If messages warrant retention, but not in conjunction with a case, policy, or project file, employees should leave the message in the Conversation History folder, or use their mouse to click and hold the message, move (drag) to the desired location, then release (drop) the message into their inbox or other email folder. In either instance, the message will take on the retention prescribed under the IRS Email Management Policy found in IRM 1.15.6.6, Standards for Managing Electronic Mail Records.

    3. Instant messages that are subject to a litigation hold, regardless of whether the messages meet the definition of federal records, MUST be saved prior to closing out of the message to ensure their preservation in the event they need to be produced. Messages must be transferred in one of the acceptable manners described in 2.b, above.

    4. Instant messages may also be subject to other holds, such as those in connection with congressional inquiries and FOIA requests. These messages MUST be saved prior to closing the message to ensure their preservation in the event they need to be produced. Messages must be transferred in one of the acceptable manners described in 2.b, above.

      The following chart contains instant messaging examples when preservation is not required beyond active messaging session.


    Records Management Decisions for Agency-Approved Instant Messaging Systems
    If message pertains to... Such as... Then... Why
    Inquiries about availability
    Do you have time for a quick call before the briefing?


    The meeting is about to start. Are you joining?


    Looks like we need to get ahead of this issue. Please schedule a staff meeting.
    Close out session; do not save. Work-related, short-term in nature.


    Message does not contain information that is a record, only routine notifications and/or reminders that an action is requested.
    Requests for information/status
    I cannot find my copy of the office SOP (standard operating procedures). Can you send me another copy when you get the chance?


    I sent you draft IRM updates for your review a week ago. Can you please share the status?
    Close out session; do not save.
    Work-related, short-term in nature. Requests for information or publication require no policy decision or special compilation.


    Final IRM approval will be officially recorded on Form 2061, Document Clearance Record.
    Routine exchanges of information Just reminding you that I am scheduled to be on leave tomorrow. Close out session; do not save. Informal communication; not a record of the approved leave, which is recorded in personnel files.
  3. Text Messages (Mobile Communication Devices)

    In accordance with IRM 10.8.1.4.1.18.2, Telecommunication Devices, the use of text messaging with government-furnished BlackBerrys or cellular phones is prohibited, except in emergency situations (IRM 10.8.26.3.11, SC-System and Communications Protection). In the event of an emergency, users must document the information communicated as records and transfer to an approved recordkeeping system within 20 days (per the Federal Records Act, 44 U.S.C. § 2911). This may be accomplished by copying the text message into a government-provided email account. Copies remaining on devices should be deleted immediately after the record has been incorporated into the approved recordkeeping system. All government-owned information is subject to discovery and FOIA.

    Note:

    Text messaging functionality is not available within the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program’s Good application enterprise environment.

Common Questions about Email

When are email messages records?

An email message is a record if:

a. it documents the IRS mission or provides evidence of an IRS business transaction,

b. it can be retrieved if you, or anyone else, need to find out what had been done, or

c. it can be used in other official actions.

Treat email messages the same way you would treat paper correspondence.

Do I have to manage incoming and outgoing email as records?

Yes, you should apply the standard described above to both incoming and outgoing email. The reason is that both the sender and recipient of email messages have the responsibility to document their activities and those of their organizations. Both the sender and the recipient have to determine whether a particular email message is a necessary part of that documentation or if it fills in gaps in other records series.

How can email be an official record if it is not signed?

A signature does not make something a record. Many types of records, such as incoming letters, formal and informal manuals, published reports, photographs, voice recordings and maps, do not contain signatures, but they can be records.

If an email record is sent to several recipients, which copy is the official record?

It depends. Different copies of the same message may ALL be records. If you take any official action related to a message, and if the message is needed for adequate and complete documentation of the action, the message would be a record in your office, regardless of whether copies are retained elsewhere. If the message is a record in your office's official files, then the copy you print or maintain on your PC is not a record and you may delete or destroy it. If you receive a message for information purposes only and do not take any action related to it, your copy is not a record.

Do these guidelines apply to IRS contractors?

Yes, these guidelines apply to IRS contractors and agents who act on behalf of the IRS, as well as all IRS employees. Contract terms should ensure that contractor systems satisfy the legal requirements for creating and maintaining adequate and complete records of IRS transactions when those transactions are carried out by contractors.

Are there special requirements for retaining email messages as records?

The basic requirements applicable to all records apply to email records as well. If they are not in an approved electronic recordkeeping system, then the email messages identified as records must be printed out and placed in the appropriate record system. However, there are some specific elements for records sent or received through email which also must be captured in addition to the message to satisfy recordkeeping requirements. You should ensure that:

  1. the email record includes transmission data that identifies the sender and the recipient(s) and the date and time the message was sent and/or received;

  2. when email is sent to a distribution list, information identifying all parties on the list the list must be retained for as long as the message is retained; and

  3. if the email system using codes, or aliases to identify senders or recipients, a record of their real name(s) is kept for as long as any record containing only the codes or aliases.

    Example:

    If you are communicating with someone via the Internet and their email address does not indicate who they are (e.g., the address is JerryR@ …) then a record must be made and kept with the message of who they are. If the message is to be kept electronically, this can be done by including their full name, title, and organization in the body of the message. If the message is printed out, then make a similar notation on the bottom of the message.

Why is it necessary to keep the transmission data about the sender, receiver, date, and time of the email?

This information is essential, the same as the names of the sender and addressee, the date, or a time stamp from a letter, memorandum or envelope on paper. You would not delete this information from those documents.

What if the message does not qualify as a record?

Delete email that is not a record when no longer of use.

Example:

An email message advising section employees of a staff meeting or a training opportunity can be destroyed after it has been read, or the meeting/training period has passed.

Common Questions about Electronic Messaging

What is a record?

A record is anything you create or receive related to your daily work activities.

Are there examples of the types of messages I should not save?

Messages that are not substantive in nature do not require saving. Examples include:

  • "The meeting is about to start. Are you joining?"

  • "Do you have time for a quick call before the briefing?"

These routine notifications and reminders are short-term messages with no substantive business information. As such, messages like these do not contain information that needs to be preserved beyond the instant messaging session.

What is instant messaging?

Instant Messaging ("IM" or "IMing" ) is the exchange of messages in real-time through a software application called Microsoft Office Communicator (OCS/Lync). Generally included in the IM software is the ability to easily see whether an individual is available. Instant messaging differs from email because it provides instant feedback.

Can I use instant messaging to send SBU data?

You may transmit sensitive but unclassified information and personally identifiable information using OCS/Lync if the information is protected in an encrypted document attached to the IM. To transmit a document from within an OCS/Lync IM, click the page-and-paper-clip icon in the upper right corner of your conversation with another OCS/Lync user. Follow the instructions to locate the file you wish to transmit. The other party must accept the request for the file to be transferred. Always remember to Think Data Protection. Only access or share SBU data or PII with an IRS employee who has a business need for the information. Do not forget that a response to the sending of the instant message could be a federal record and will need to be saved.

What type of messages should NOT be sent using instant messaging?

Employees should not use electronic messaging systems such as OCS and Lync to engage in discussions involving policy matters, business decisions, or documentation of other mission-critical functions. This may result in the creation of a federal record that requires preservation beyond the closeout of the instant messaging session.

If I create or receive a record using OCS/Lync instant messaging, how do I save it?

If you create or receive a record using instant messaging, before exiting your conversation, you should save it by hitting Shift+F12 (OCS users), and CTRL+S (Lync users). The message will be saved to your conversation history folder before exiting the IM session. Once a message is placed in your Conversation History folder, you may move it to other folders in Outlook.

If I use electronic messaging for work, am I creating federal records?

In almost all circumstances, the daily work performed by federal employees (permanent and seasonal) and contractors involves receipt or creation of federal record information.

Is instant messaging the same as text messaging? Am I allowed to use text messaging?

Instant messaging via OCS/Lync on your laptop is NOT the same as using text messaging on your BlackBerry (BB) or smartphone. In accordance with IRM 10.8.1.4.1.18.2, Telecommunication Devices, the use of text messaging with government-furnished BlackBerrys or cellular phones to conduct official business is prohibited, except in emergency situations when other forms of communication are unavailable.

Is the electronic messaging policy a new requirement?

No. There has always been a requirement for employees to save and appropriately manage records they create.

May I send an instant message to non IRS partners/stakeholders?

No. IRS’s instant messaging application (OCS/Lync) is an internal application that cannot be used to communicate with others outside of the Service.

Who do I contact if I need help saving my instant message or have questions about records management training or other support options?

Please contact *Records Management if you require training or need assistance with any records-related aspect of using instant messaging. You may also visit the Office Communicator (OCS) Job Aid.

What is the Conversation History folder and where is it located?

OCS/Lync now keeps a record of instant message conversations in the Office Outlook Conversation History folder. The Conversation History folder is located in MS Outlook on the left side beneath the Deleted Items folder (just above the Junk Email folder).

See image of Conversation History folder.