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Establishment of Files
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Yeoman Basic
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What Governs Disposal
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. However,  message 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 format. 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 message   traffic. 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. RECORDS   DISPOSAL 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. RECORDS   DEFINED 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 received by an agency of the U.S. Government in connection with the transaction of   public   business and   appropriate   for preservation. 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 written   material, documents,  publications,  charts,  messages,  and so    forth,    addressed    to    or    sent    from    a command. 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 publications received   from other   than government  agencies  (catalogs,  trade  journals), and   reproduction   materials   such   as   stencils and  offset  plates. It   isn’t   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 reason, items normally scheduled   for 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. 5-6

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