FOR, and messages classified CONFI-
DENTIAL, SECRET, and TOP SECRET.
Messages are usually destroyed 30 days
after the release date or earlier if they have
served their purpose.
directives are automatically canceled 90 days
following the release date except when the
message provides earlier cancellation, a
subsequent release specially extends the time,
or if it is reissued in a letter-type directive
With the introduction of the Navywide
standard message preparation program (MTF),
messages can be stored on computer disks
instead of paper. This will greatly reduce the
amount of paper and files required to handle
Now, what do you do with all the old
files? The last part of this chapter gives you
information on the disposition of records no
longer needed by your command.
The contents of your files are of such
significance that Congress has passed laws
governing their disposition; laws that apply to
unclassified as well as classified material.
All tasks connected with files, including
their disposition, must be taken seriously.
Since you may be responsible for the work of
juniors, you may also be directly involved in
the proper disposal of files that have served
their purpose. Decisions to save, or not save,
must not be avoided by saving all your files.
No matter how firmly you believe that If I
throw this away today, someone will want it
tomorrow, a decision must be made.
The Navy and Marine Corps Records
Disposition Manual, SECNAVINST 5212.5,
spells out the retention period of official files
and whether they must be destroyed or
forwarded to an FRC. But, if you are in
doubt about disposal of certain records,
consult with your seniors in deciding which
course of action to take.
Your files may contain material that is not
considered official record material (pamphlets,
extra copies of letters, directives, and so forth)
solely because nobody made a decision about
disposing of them.
Government records are defined as all
documentary material, including books,
papers, maps, and photographs, made or
Government in connection with the transaction
of public business
and appropriate for
T h e S t a n d a r d O r g a n i z a t i o n a nd
Regulations of the U.S. Navy ( S O R M ),
OPNAVINST 3120.32, defines official
correspondence as all
documents, publications, charts, messages, and
so forth, addressed to or sent from a
Nonrecord material is that which is not
worth keeping except for a limited time.
Within this category are such things as rough
drafts, extra copies of letters, some forms of
government agencies (catalogs, trade journals),
and reproduction materials such as stencils
and offset plates.
It isnt always easy to determine a true
distinction between record and nonrecord
material and then apply a hard and fast rule to
each item. You should make each decision
based on the retention standards contained in
the Records Disposition Manual. It may be
determined that, because of some special
destruction should be kept indefinitely. The
term appropriate for preservation gives you a
good rule of thumb as to whether or not an
item needs to be destroyed.