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Web Records Policy & Guidance

Adopted by the HHS Web Council, December 5, 2007.

What are "Web Records" and why do we care?

Web records are written or electronic materials that document - for the Web -- what we said, what we did, and how we did it. Simply put, by law (and common sense) Web managers need to maintain Web records.

The rules governing the maintenance of Federal records cover Web records. A formal "records schedule" establishes categories of records, determines how long categories of records must be kept and, by extension, informs when the records may be deleted or destroyed.

What constitutes a "Web record"?

Document ownership determines responsibility for record management. It's important to note that not everything that appears on the Web is a Web record.

Documents and other content which is disseminated via the Web site are records but they are not typically considered Web records. This content belongs to the entity that created it and had it posted on the Web. The creating entity maintains the record.

Any material, including written documents (governance, reports, memoranda, promotional pieces, letters, etc) or design documents (wire frames, sites designs, etc.), dealing with the creation, management and maintenance of the Web is considered to be a Web record.

Some Web content and/or pages are considered Web records. Dynamic home pages (such as HHS.gov, CDC.gov, FDA.gov, NIH.gov, PandemicFlu.gov, etc.) are considered Web records. Blogs and other interactive Web content are Web records. Public input related to the Web and delivered via the Web is also considered to be a Web record.

Documents pertaining to the maintenance and management of the portal and similar applications are Web Records. The communications (including files) of a "community" belong to that community.

Web Records Schedule

There are a number of unique and distinct categories of documents (Web records) that belong to the office that hosts, creates or manages a Web site. The schedule for how long each category of records must be retained has been established for many categories. For other categories, the schedule remains to be determined. The retention schedule for these categories will be determined in consultation with the Office of Records Management (ORM). ORM will ensure that records schedules are consistent across the Department. Note that offices may keep records longer than specified by the schedule.

What does one "do" with a Web Record?

Once the categories of Web records have been identified for your site, a simple list of the web records documents should be generated. You will be reviewing the list with the Records Officer assigned to your Agency/OpDiv.

What version do I save?

The "Record copy" is the legal term for the version of the document that must be preserved. There may be many iterations of some documents; the "record copy" is the "final, final" version; the one that goes into the "completed" file folder, and is what you reach for when someone asks "where did we end up on this issue?"

What are the next steps?

Once formal HHS Records Management Policy is issued, offices, agencies and OpDivs will be required to work with their Records Officer for their office documents. Once schedules have been done for all categories, this web policy will be formally adopted in early 2008. In the meantime, prepare your lists and use this draft policy as guidance.

HHS Web Records Schedule – GRS References.
Approved February 13, 2008.

US Department of Health and Human Services
Web Records Schedule
February 13, 2008

Web Communications & New Media Division
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs

#

ITEM for SCHEDULE

SCHEDULE

DEFINITION

GRS REFERENCE

 

ADMINISTRATIVE WEB RECORDS:

 

 

 

1.

Templates, style sheets, and code that determine site architecture.

May be destroyed when superseded or no longer applicable.

Non-essential working papers retained by staff member for reference purposes.

000.01

Office Working Files

2.

Web site design records

May be destroyed when one (1) year old.

Non-essential working papers retained by staff member for reference purposes.

000.01

Office Working Files

3.

Web management and operations records

May be destroyed when two (2) years old.

Oversight and compliance record.

GRS 24 1.A

 

4.

 

Site maps (if applicable).

May be destroyed when superseded or no longer applicable.

Non-essential working papers retained by staff member for reference purposes.

000.01

Office Working Files

 

5.

Customized off-the-shelf (COTS) software configuration files.

May be destroyed/deleted 1 (one) year after termination of the software use, and all information contained in the system has been transferred or deleted.

Non-essential working papers retained by staff member for reference purposes.

000.01

Office Working Files

6.

Metrics – inventory of Web activity (Web Trends, etc.)

May be destroyed when two (2) years old.

Oversight and compliance record.

GRS 24 1.B

7.

Log Files.

May be destroyed when superseded or no longer applicable.

Transitory files. Documents of a short term interest which have no documentary or evidential value.

GRS 23. 7

8.

Usability records, including test designs and usability testing reports.

May be destroyed when one (1) year old.

Testing record.

GRS 23.11

9.

“Contact Us” Web communication from the public commenting or requesting information.

May be destroyed three (3) months after issue is resolved, or request has been fulfilled.

Requests for information and copies of replies thereto, involving no administrative actions, no policy decisions, and no special compilations or research and requests for transmittals of publications, photographs, and other information.

GRS 14.1

10.

Other transitory files – routine requests for information or publications (no policy decisions or administrative actions required).

May be destroyed when three (3) months old.

Transitory files. Documents of a short term interest which have no documentary or evidential value.

GRS 23. 7

 

 

* CONTENT WEB RECORDS:

 

 

 

1.

Dynamic home pages that change frequently, reflect temporal importance and/or carry content created by the Web’s managing entity.

May be destroyed when two (2) years old. (GRS states 90 days – 2 years is internal to HHS).

Office Working File

000.01

2.

Web management content.

May be destroyed one (1) year after the content is no longer of use.

Oversight or compliance file.

GRS 24.1.A

 

* This schedule does not include “New Media” as NARA is expected to publish guidance within the next six (6) months.