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Indian Health Service The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives

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     Indian Health Manual

Part 5, Chapter 15:  Manual Appendix 5-15-A

Glossary of Terms

Accession Number.

This number is assigned by the Federal Records Center (FRC) staff for each series of records entered on the Standard Form (SF)-135, "Records Transmittal and Receipt Form."  The number is used to control inactive records transferred to FRCs for storage.

Active Records.

Records that are necessary for conducting the current business of an office and that must be maintained, therefore, in office space and equipment.

Administrative Records.

Administrative records are records retained by an originating office as its record of initiation of an action, request, or response to requests for information.  Files of administrative records include copies of documents submitted to other offices for action including travel vouchers, budget feeder documents, purchase orders, and training requests.


The process used to determine the value and thus the final disposition of records, making them either temporary or permanent.

Archival Records.

See Permanent Records.

Archivist of the United States.

The head of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).


In files management, the arrangement is the act or result of placing records in a particular order or sequence.

Audiovisual Records.

Records in pictorial or aural form.  Include still and motion pictures; graphic materials, such as posters and original art; audio and visual recordings and combinations of media, such as slide-tape productions.

Case Files.

Most file stations have one or more series of case files, official in nature.  A series of case files is a grouping together of folders or file units containing records relating to a specific action, transaction, event, person, place, project, or other subject.  Some common kinds of case files are official personnel folders, contract files, medical records, or files relating to IHS construction projects.  Case files are usually arranged alphabetically (official personnel files) or numerically (contract files).

Central Files.

Files accumulated by several offices or organizational units and maintained and supervised in one location.  Also known as centralized files.


The act and result of recording the removal and loan of a document or a file to indicate its location.  Usually involves the use of a form, such as, Official File (OF) 23.

Closed File.

A file unit or series containing documents on which action has been completed and to which more documents are not likely to be added.

Contractor Records.

Data produced and/or maintained by a contractor for a Federal agency and required to provide adequate and proper documentation of that agency's programs and to manage them effectively.

Convenience Files.

Extra copies of records, personal papers, or publications maintained for ease of access and reference.  Sometimes known as personal files.

Current records. See Active Records.

Cut off.

Breaking, or ending files at regular intervals, usually at the close of a fiscal or calendar year, to permit their disposal or transfer in complete blocks and, for correspondence files, to permit the establishment of new files.  Case files are generally cut off at the end of the year in which the case is closed.


Records of a unit that are located in more than one location.


The actions taken regarding temporary records after their retention periods expire and consisting usually of destruction or occasionally donation.


The actions taken with regard to records following their appraisal.  These actions include transfer to a records center for temporary storage, transfer to an archival agency, donation to an eligible repository, image reproduction, or destruction.  The term includes, but is not synonymous with, disposal.

Disposition Authority.

Legal approval empowering an agency to transfer permanent records to the National Archives or carry out the disposal of temporary records.  Must be obtained from NARA and also, for certain records proposed as temporary, from the General Accounting Office.

Disposition Instructions.

Directions for cutting off records and carrying out their disposition in compliance with NARA's regulations.

Electronic Information System.

Any information system that produces, processes, or stores records by using a computer.  Often called an automated information system.

Electronic Mail.

The process or result of sending and receiving messages in electronic form via remote computer terminals.  Also called E-mail.

Electronic Recordkeeping.

The creation, maintenance and use, and disposition of records created and stored by using a computer.

Electronic Records.

Records stored in a form that only a computer can process.

Federal Records Center (FRC).

A storage facility established for the receipt, maintenance, servicing and disposition of files that are retired in accordance with standards established by the NARA General Records Schedules (GRS) and the Indian Health Service (IHS) Records Disposition Schedule (RDS).  The NARA operates the system of FRCs which IHS offices are authorized to use.


Usually an accumulation of records or nonrecord materials arranged according to a plan.

File Codes.

Numbers or symbols used to identify file contents.

File Plan.

A document containing the identifying file code, records series title and description, and disposition authority of files held in an office.

File Station.

Any location in an organization at which records are maintained for current use.

File Manager.

The individual in charge of maintaining the office or program files.

Files Improvement.

Taking corrective action to make sure that office files are properly organized and maintained, rapidly retrievable, complete, and ready for appropriate disposition.

File Inventory.

A survey of program records and nonrecord materials that is conducted primarily to develop file plans and also to identify various records management problems, such as duplication of file contents.  The files inventory requires specific information:  On what files exist, what records they hold, and what the physical characteristics of those records are.  The goal of the files inventory is to list separate, identifiable file groups that exist in the office.  It is not a listing of individual papers but rather file groups.

Files Management.

Applying records management principles and techniques to filing practices in order to organize and maintain documentary materials properly, retrieve them rapidly, ensure their completeness, and make their disposition easier.

Filing System.

A set of policies and procedures for organizing and identifying files or documents to speed their retrieval, use, and disposition.

Frozen Records.

In records disposition, those temporary records that cannot be destroyed on schedule because special circumstances, such as a court order or an investigation, require temporary extension of the approved retention period.

General Records Schedules (GRS).

The NARA-issued schedule governing the disposition of specified records common to several or all agencies of the Federal Government.

Inactive Records.

Records that are no longer required in the conduct of current business and, therefore, can be accessioned by an archival repository or destroyed.

Information Copy.

A nonrecord copy sent to individuals or offices interested in, but not acting on, a matter.

Legal Value.

The usefulness of records in documenting legally enforceable rights or obligations, both those of the Federal Government and those of persons directly affected by the agency's activities.

Life Cycle of Records.

The management concept that records pass through three stages:  creation, maintenance and use, and disposition.


The physical form of recorded information.  Includes paper, film, disk, magnetic tape, and other materials on which information can be recorded.


A card-sized transparent sheet of film with miniaturized images (micro-images) arranged in a grid pattern.  Usually contains a title readable without a magnifying device.


Fine-grain, high-resolution film containing micro-images.


Any form containing greatly reduced images, or micro-images, usually on microfilm.


A records management technology concerned with producing and using microforms.

National Archives and Records Administration.

In the U.S. Government, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is responsible for appraising, accessioning, preserving, and making available permanent records.

Noncurrent Records. See Inactive Records.

Nonrecord Material.

Papers having no documentary or evidential value are considered nonrecord material.  These include stocks of record material, such as reading files, processed or published materials, catalogues, trade journals, and papers of transitory value, such as drafts, worksheets, informal notes, and routing slips.  Nonrecord materials are destroyed when their purpose has been served.

Official File Stations.

Official file stations are organizational units where official record copies of correspondence and other documents are maintained.

Official Files.

Official files of the IHS are papers, photographs, maps, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, which have documentary or evidential value.  Such papers, created or received in connection with the transaction of the Agency's business, are preserved as evidence of its organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities, because of their informational value.  Official files, also referred to as record material can be destroyed only according to the provisions of authorized disposition schedules.

Optical Disk.

A noncontact, random-access disk typically tracked by optical laser beams and used for mass storage and retrieval of generally digitized text and graphics.

Permanent Records.

In U.S. Government usage, records appraised by NARA as having sufficient historical value to warrant continued preservation by the Federal Government beyond the time they are needed for administrative, legal, or fiscal purposes.

Personal Papers.

Documentary materials belonging to an individual that are not used to conduct agency business.  Related solely to an individual's own affairs or used exclusively for that individual's convenience.  Must be clearly designated as such and kept separate from the agency's records.

Program Records.

Records documenting the unique, substantive functions for which an office is responsible, in contrast to administrative records.

Record Copy.

The copy of a document specifically intended to be kept as a record.  It is also referred to as an official file copy.

Record Series.

File units or documents arranged according to a filing system or kept together because they relate to a particular subject or function, result from the same activity, document a specific kind of transaction, take a particular physical form, or have some other relationship arising out of their creation, receipt, or use, such as restrictions on access and use.


The act or process of creating and maintaining records.  Assumes the need for their proper disposition.


All books, papers, maps, photographs, machine readable materials, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, 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 by that agency or its legitimate successor as evidence of the organization functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the Government or because of the informational value of data in them.  Library and museum material made or acquired and preserved solely for reference or exhibition purposes, extra copies of documents preserved only for convenience of reference, and stocks of publications and of processed documents are not included.  In machine-readable records/archives, two or more data fields in predetermined order and treated as a unit.

Records Disposition Schedule.

Records Disposition Schedule (RDS) is a document providing mandatory instructions for what to do with records (and nonrecord materials) no longer needed for current Government business, with provision of authority for the final disposition of recurring or nonrecurring records.

Records Management.

That area of general administrative management concerned with archiving economy and efficiency in the creation, use, maintenance, and disposition of records.  It includes fulfilling archival requirements and ensuring effective documentation.

Records Management Officer.

The Records Management Officer (RMO) is the official in IHS with responsibility for the overall direction and staff supervision of the agency-wide records management program.  Each IHS Area Office has an RMO responsible for the Area and accountable to IHS Hqtrs.

Record Series.

File units or documents arranged in accordance with a filing system or maintained as a unit because they relate to a particular form, or because of some other relationship arising out of their creation, receipt, or use.

Reference Materials.

Nonrecord copies of articles, periodicals, reports, studies, vendor catalogs, and similar materials that are needed for reference and information but are not properly part of the office's records.


Specific measures, individual and collective, undertaken to maintain, repair, restore, or protect records.

Retention Period.

The time period or particular records (normally a series) to be kept.  Also referred to as Retention Standard.


Transfer of inactive records to the FRCs.

Schedule Item.

A separately identifiable group of records included in a records disposition schedule.


The process of developing a document that provides mandatory instructions for what to do with records (and nonrecord materials) no longer needed for current Government business.

Temporary Records.

Records approved by NARA for disposal, either immediately or after a specified retention period.


The act or process of moving records from one location to another, especially from office space to the FRC or the National Archives for permanent preservation.

Transitory Correspondence.

Correspondence relating to matters of short-term interest, such as acknowledgments for publications received, routine inquiries for publications, and announcements of employee association fundraising events.

Unscheduled Records.

Records for whose final disposition has not been approved by NARA.

Vital Records.

Records essential to the continued functioning or reconstitution of an organization during and after an emergency and also those records essential to protecting the rights and interests of that organization and of the individuals directly affected by its activities.  Includes both emergency-operating and rights and interests records.

Working Files.

Documents such as notes, calculations, or rough drafts assembled or created and used to prepare or analyze other documents.

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