U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Skip to content
Facebook iconYouTube iconTwitter iconFlickr iconLinkedInInstagram

Home / Resources / Legislation, Regulations and Guidance / Directives and Memorandum / Orders

FHWA Order M 1324.1A
This Directive was canceled July 29, 2013.

FHWA Files Management and Records Disposition Manual
Classification Code Date Office of Primary Interest
M 1324.1A November 4, 1999  

  1. Purpose
  2. Cancellation
  3. Background
  4. Authorities
  5. Responsibilities
  6. Definitions
  7. Scope

  1. PURPOSE. To update the FHWA Files Management and Records Disposition Manual containing policy, procedures, and guidelines to assist FHWA Washington Headquarters and field offices in the effective and efficient use and management of FHWA files and records.
  2. CANCELLATION. The Manual represents a consolidation, update, and expansion of previously issued guidance on the creation, maintenance, and disposition of FHWA paper and electronic records. The Manual supersedes the following FHWA Orders, which are hereby canceled:
    1. FHWA Order M 1324.1, Change 1, Files Management and Records Disposition Manual - FHWA Field Offices, dated June 19, 1990;

    2. FHWA Order M 1324.1 Change 1A, Files Management and Records Disposition Manual - Washington Headquarters Offices, dated June 29, 1990.

  3. BACKGROUND. The introduction into FHWA offices of new technology, particularly microcomputers, and the increasing use of computers in the creation and maintenance of official agency records have heightened awareness and responsibilities as managers and employees at all levels of the agency to make effective use of this technology. Federal Records Management Program policy calls on agency managers to take an active role in creating, receiving, maintaining, and preserving adequate and proper documentation of their program functions, and to maintain an active, continuing program for the economical and efficient management of agency records. This Manual is designed to provide policies, procedures, and guidelines specific to files and records management.


    1. The Manual is based principally upon Federal Records Management Program policies and requirements established in:

      (1) Title 44 United States Code (USC) 29, Federal Records Act of 1968;

      (2) 36 CFR, Chapter XII, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA);

      (3) Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A- 130, Management of Federal Information Resources, Revised, (Transmittal Memorandum No. 3), dated February 8, 1996; and

      (4) DOT Information Resources Management Manual (DIRMM), Chapter 10, "Records Management."

    2. Due to the extent of the subject matter covered under Records Management, a number of other laws, directives, policies, and guidelines govern the various parts of the Manual. A list of these is in Appendix B, List of References, in the Manual.


    1. The Chief, Management Programs and Analysis Division (HAIM- 10), is responsible for designating the FHWA Records Officer, who shall:

      (1) develop and implement agencywide records management policies, standards, and procedures in cooperation with the NARA for the creation, use, maintenance, and disposition of official records;

      (2) provide technical advice, training, and assistance in all aspects of records management activities to all FHWA employees and offices as required;

      (3) compile and maintain current Records Control Schedules for all FHWA official records;

      (4) evaluate the FHWA Records Management Program to promote management improvements and cost savings, to determine program effectiveness, and to ensure compliance with statutory, regulatory, and Departmentwide requirements and standards; and

      (5) maintain liaison with the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST) and with NARA.

    2. Core Business Unit Program Managers, Service Business Unit Directors, Division Administrators, State Directors of Motor Carriers, and Federal Lands Highway Division Engineers will each designate a Records Liaison Officer (RLO), who will:

      (1) promote and ensure the effective implementation of NARA, DOT, and FHWA records management policies and procedures within their organization;

      (2) ensure that records are transferred to and retrieved from the Federal Records Centers (FRC) in accordance with established FHWA and NARA procedures;

      (3) ensure that records are disposed of in accordance with approved FHWA records schedules; and

      (4) maintain liaison with the FHWA Records Officer and participate in required records management training.

    3. All FHWA employees shall:

      (1) ensure that established procedures are followed in the creation, maintenance, and disposition of official records as outlined in the Manual;

      (2) ensure that permanent series of records are clearly identified and maintained separately from temporary series to prevent accidental destruction of the permanent series;

      (3) minimize the accumulation of unnecessary files;

      (4) cut off files annually, and separate inactive records from the active files; and

      (5) report any unauthorized disposition of Federal records, including all forms of mutilation and alienation of records, to HAIM- 10.


    1. Official Records. According to 44 USC, 3301 official records "includes 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 United States Government under Federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation 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 or reference, and stocks of publications and of processed documents are not included."

    2. Non- records. According to 44 USC, non- records "are 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 or processed documents."

    3. Cutoff. 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. Cutoff is sometimes called file cutoff or file break.

    4. Electronic Records. Electronic records may include data files and data bases, machine- readable indexes, word processing files, electronic spreadsheets, electronic mail (email) and electronic messages, as well as other text or numerical information. Electronic record- keeping involves the use of a computer to create, retrieve, analyze, transmit, or delete records.

    5. Permanent Records. Permanent records are records appraised by NARA as having sufficient historical or other value to warrant continued preservation by the Federal Government beyond the time they are needed for administrative, legal, or fiscal purposes.

    6. Temporary Records. Temporary records are records approved by NARA for disposal, either immediately or after a specified retention period. These records are also referred to as "disposable records."

      Note: For a complete listing of Records Management terms used in this Manual, refer to Appendix A, Glossary of Records Management Terms.

  7. SCOPE. This Order is applicable to all FHWA Headquarters and fields offices, and users of agency information resources, as well as the Office of Motor Carrier Safety, based on a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations, dated October 13, 1999.

George S. Moore signature
George S. Moore, Jr.
Director of Administration


Table of Contents

Chapter 1:      Files Classification

  1. Purpose
  2. Benefits
  3. Procedures
  4. Classified Records

Chapter 2:      Filing Procedures

  1. Procedures
  2. Preparing Filing Materials
  3. Preparing File Folder Labels
  4. Charge- Out System
  5. File Breaks
  6. Suspense Files
  7. Reader Files

Chapter 3:      Disposition Of Records

  1. General
  2. Files Cut- off
  3. Transfer of Records to Federal Records Center (FRC)
  4. Destruction of Records in Office

Chapter 4:      Electronic Records

  1. General
  2. Definition
  3. Responsibilities
  4. Creating Electronic Records
  5. Maintaining Electronic Records on Local Area Networks (LAN)
  6. Disposition of Electronic Records
  7. Security of Electronic Records
  8. Court Decisions Concerning Electronic Records

Chapter 5:      Personal Papers

  1. Purpose
  2. What are Personal Papers
  3. Procedures

Appendix A:      Glossary of Records Management Terms

Appendix B:      List of References

Appendix C:      Directory of NARA Records Center Facilities

The Comprehensive Records Disposition Schedules for Headquarters and Field Offices are available on the FHWA Website at: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/legsregs/directives/orders/m13241.cfm.

Page last modified on January 31, 2017
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000