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Federal Emails Are Records

Mission of HHS

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the United States government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.

The major work of the Department, including its highest priority activities and high priority performance goals, include:

  • Transformation of health care
  • Prevention and wellness
  • Early childhood health and development
  • Protection of Americans in public health emergencies
  • Pursuit and acceleration of scientific advances that benefit patient care
  • Improvement of our food safety system

Definition of a Federal Record

By law Federal records are

  • all documentary materials, including:
    • policies and procedures
    • statistical data
    • reports
    • legal opinions and decisions
    • research data and studies
    • letters and memoranda
    • completed forms
    • photographs
    • audio and video recordings
    • posters and graphics
    • architectural and engineering documents
  • regardless of physical form, including:
    • paper
    • electronic, including electronic mail
    • sound and visual recordings
  • made or received by an agency of the U.S. Government under Federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business, and
  • preserved or appropriate for preservation as evidence of agency functions, organization, and activities or because of the value of the information they contain (44 U.S.C. 3301).


Before deleting any e-mail message, ask if it meets the definition of a
Federal record.  If it does, the email and related attachments must be
retained by:

  • Printing it out and filing the record with related information in accordance with your office’s recordkeeping   methods and systems


  • Moving it to an approved electronic recordkeeping system.

Disposition must be in accordance with an approved records schedule.  Contact your records management representative for further information


  • Contributes to the smooth operation of  the agency's programs by making the information needed for decision making and operations readily available
  • Provides information useful to successor officials and staff for background and analysis, facilitating transitions between Administrations
  • Creates a complete record of  official HHS actions that will remain with the agency for future use by agency staff
  • Ensures accountability to the Administration, Congress, and the American people