Public submission

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Federal agencies don’t keep most of their records forever. At some point, they’re legally allowed to destroy the majority of them.

But when? And which records? That’s up to the agency and the National Archives (with some input from the public, at least in theory).

In an overlooked process that’s been going on for decades, agencies create a “Request for Records Disposition Authority” that gives details about the documents, then proposes when they can be destroyed (e.g., three years after the end of the fiscal year, 50 years after they’re no longer needed, etc.). Occasionally, agencies propose keeping some documents permanently, which means eventually transferring them to the National Archives.

The National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) then “appraises” the agency’s Request for Records Disposition Authority, almost always giving the greenlight.

Around this point, the agency’s request and NARA’s appraisal are announced in the Federal Register. They are not published in the Register, nor are they posted to the Register website (including Regulations.gov). Their existence is simply noted.

Dept. of the Interior is asking for permission to destroy records about oil and gas leases, mining, dams, wells, timber sales, marine conservation, fishing, endangered species, non-endangered species, critical habitats, land acquisition, wild horses & burros and lots more. It’s also wanting to permanently retain a smaller subset of documents in each category, which will be transferred to the National Archives, where they will become harder to access via FOIA.

This is crucial stuff. In the months, years, and decades ahead, if you get “records destroyed” responses, or a vague “no records” response, from NPS, BLM, FWS, BIA, etc., this could be the root cause.

Comment period has been extended to Nov. 23, 2018   READ MORE HERE↓

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