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Special General Memorandum 99-3


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DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Public Health Service
     Indian Health Service
 Rockville MD 20857

SGM 99-3

APR 20, 1999

TO: All Employees

FROM: Director

SUBJECT: Unlawful Removal and Destruction of Official Indian Health Service Records

This memorandum advises all Indian Health Service (IHS) staff of laws and penalties for the unlawful removal and destruction of official IHS records.  According to Federal law, it is illegal to destroy or remove IHS records without proper authorization (18 U.S.C. 2071).

Some IHS employees keep various personal papers in their offices.  These personal papers must be clearly designated as such and maintained separately from agency records.

Personal papers are documentary materials belonging to an individual that are not used to conduct agency business.  They relate solely to an individual's personal and private affairs or are used for that individual's convenience.  In contrast to IHS record and nonrecord materials, personal papers are not government-owned.

All IHS employees should keep in mind that some materials appearing to be personal papers could prove to be agency records.  Determining their record status depends on the circumstances of their creation, maintenance, use, and disposition.  Even though documentary materials may have designations such as personal, confidential, or private, they are records.  If they were created or received by the agency to conduct IHS business and if they were preserved or are appropriate for preservation because they document the agency's organization, functions, and activities.

The IHS Records Management Officer and the National Archives and Records Administration are responsible for preventing the unauthorized disposition of Federal records, including their unlawful destruction, defacement, alteration, or removal from Federal custody.  All IHS employees should carefully monitor the implementation of records guidelines as provided in the IHS Records Disposition Schedule.

All IHS employees are duly informed that the unauthorized disposition of IHS records is against the law (44 U.S.C) 3106) and may lead to a $2000 fine, a 3-year imprisonment, or-both (18 U.S.C. 2071).  Employees are instructed to report any such violations of the law.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this memorandum, please contact Mr. Thomas L. Todacheeney, Jr., IHS Records Management Officer, at (301) 443-8030.

/Luana L. Reyes for/
Michael H.Trijillo, M.D., M.P.H., M.S.
Assistant Surgeon General

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