FOIA Advisor

Q&A: requirements to retain records

Q&A (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Q.   What is the time limit on retention of records under the Act?

A.  The recordkeeping responsibilities of federal agencies are governed generally by the Federal Records Act (FRA), not the Freedom of Information Act.  Pursuant to the FRA, the National Archives and Records Administration approves "records disposition schedules," which identify records maintained by agencies and set forth instructions for their retention and destruction.  Just for illustration, here are the records disposition schedules for the Department of State. Tangentially, FOIA case files of all agencies must be retained for a specified time period.  See General Records Schedule 4.2.