SUBJECT: IMPORTANT: Additional Guidance on Retaining, Preserving, and Maintaining Records in Response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
FROM: Kimberly T. Nelson, Assistant Administrator and Chief Information Officer
Office of Environmental Information
TO: All EPA Employees
This guidance provides additional information for retaining, preserving, and maintaining (i.e., managing) hurricane-related records, and it supplements the mass mailer sent to all EPA staff on October 4, 2005.
In response to the White House memorandum, which directs agencies to retain, preserve, and maintain all records (defined broadly) related to Hurricane Katrina, we are providing additional guidance to ensure that each employee manages all hurricane-related records appropriately. See the September 23, 2005 White House memorandum below, “Comprehensive Review of Federal Government Response to Hurricane Katrina; Retention of Records,” for additional information on records that need to be retained, preserved, and maintained.
EPA takes its responsibility to manage its records seriously. In order to ensure that all e-mail records are retained, effective October 27, 2005, the Agency is changing the setting on all automatic e-mail purge policies, to a minimum of 180 days, for those offices and Regions that currently implement automatic e-mail purge policies.
It is important that each employee adhere to the following guidance:
- You must manage hurricane-related records, regardless of format, if they are not being maintained elsewhere. These formats include, but are not limited to, e-mail, instant messages, information on Personal Digital Assistants (PDA), including Blackberries or other portable devices, GIS information, and oral conversations.
- You must keep all hurricane-related e-mails that you have sent. You may not need to keep all hurricane-related e-mails that you have received. For example, you do not need to keep copies of Mass Mailer messages or other internal e-mails that are already being retained, preserved, and maintained by the sender. However, you must keep all hurricane-related e-mails you have received from people outside EPA, including e-mails from other federal agencies, state and local governments, tribes, and private entities or individuals.
- You should organize your hurricane-related e-mails in dedicated folders in your e-mail box. To place information in a folder, click on the “folder” button in your Lotus Notes e-mail box, and either select “move to folder,” if there is an existing folder, or “create a folder,” by typing in an appropriate title and then moving the e-mails to the folder. Lotus Notes is not a recordkeeping system. You will ultimately need to transfer hurricane-related e-mails into a recordkeeping system.
- Hurricane-related information that is only on a PDA, such as a Blackberry, must be maintained. It is important to note that, depending on the settings of your PDA, e-mails sent from your PDA may not be captured in your desktop “Sent” folder. If the e-mails you send are not being captured on your desktop system, or if you don’t know, contact your local Desktop Support Services for help to adjust your settings.
- You must ensure that hurricane-related decisions made in instant messaging sessions or oral conversations, which are not being maintained elsewhere, are documented, e.g., in a decision memorandum or note to the file.
Additional information on the management of hurricane-related records will be forthcoming. In the interim, if you have any questions, please contact the appropriate Records Liaison Officer in your AA-ship or Region (see http://www.epa.gov/records/contact.htm) or contact the EPA National Records Management Program Help Desk at 202-566-1494, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE WHITE HOUSE
September 23, 2005
MEMORANDUM FOR: SECRETARY OF STATE
SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR
SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE
SECRETARY OF COMMERCE
SECRETARY OF LABOR
SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION
SECRETARY OF ENERGY
SECRETARY OF EDUCATION
SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY
DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND
U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL
DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG
FROM: // Original Signed //
FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND
ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR HOMELAND
SECURITY AND COUNTERTERRORISM
CC: ANDREW H. CARD, JR.
SUBJECT: COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO HURRICANE KATRINA; RETENTION OF RECORDS
Following up on Secretary Card’s Memorandum to you of September 16, in order to determine what went wrong, what went right, and lessons learned from the comprehensive review of the Federal response to Hurricane Katrina that the President has ordered, you are requested to ensure that, until further notice and in accordance with applicable laws, your Department or Agency (1) retains, preserves, and maintains all records relating to Hurricane Katrina, resulting flooding, or their aftermath (“Records”), whether presently existing or created in the future, and (2) upon request, provides Records to the Homeland Security Council for review. For purposes of clarity, “Records” is meant in the broadest sense, and includes all documents, reports, writings, letters, memoranda, notes, communications (including e-mails, faxes, and telephone records, and all communications with other Federal Departments and Agencies, State and local governments, and private sector entities), contracts, agreements, schedules, spreadsheets, travel records, data, electronically stored information, audio and video recordings, computer disks and hard drives, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, and all other records of any kind. “Records” includes, but is not limited to, all records required to be preserved pursuant to the Federal Records Act of 1950, as amended, 44 U.S.C. § 3101 et seq.
If you have any questions regarding any of the foregoing, please contact Associate Counsel John Mitnick (202-456-2607) in the Office of Counsel to the President.
Thank you in advance for your assistance.