Defense Visual Information Records Schedule

The DoD Visual Information Records Schedule is a National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)-approved document outlining the types, subject categories and schedules for the final transfer, archiving and disposition of DoD Visual Information. 

The document provides the guidance for the archival processes used by the Defense Visual Information Records Center to ensure all relevant VI is properly managed, sorted and maintained according to NARA standards and requirements. DoD VI records considered permanent are transferred to NARA according to the records schedule timelines. 

FAQ's-DoD Visual Information (VI) Records Schedule

Background: The VI Records Schedule replaces/rescinds the previous DODM 5040 (Decision Logic Table (DLT).  VI creators within the DoD are responsible for documenting DoD activities, operations, exercises and U.S. military Services.  This imagery is an official record that must be managed and maintained, for which the VI Records Schedule provides guidance.  

1. What is a records schedule?

A "records schedule" identifies records as either temporary or permanent.  All records schedules must be approved by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

A records schedule provides mandatory instructions for the disposition of the records (including the transfer of permanent records and disposal of temporary records) when they are no longer needed by the agency.  As part of the ongoing records life cycle, disposition should occur in the normal course of agency business.  All Federal records must be scheduled (44 U.S.C. 3303) either by an agency schedule or General Records Schedule (GRS).

2. Why are records schedules necessary?

Record Schedules:

  • Ensure that the important records are organized, maintained and preserved in such a way as to be easily retrieved and identifiable as evidence of the program's activities, especially in the event of an audit, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, or a discovery in a lawsuit.
  • Conserve office space and equipment by using filing cabinets to store only active paper records and conserves server space by using tapes, disks, and other off-line storage media for electronic records.
  • Save money by moving inactive files to off-site storage areas until they are ready for final disposition. 
  • Help preserve those records that are valuable for historical or other research purposes.
  • Control the growth of records in offices through the systematic disposition of unneeded records.

3. How does the Defense Media Activity employ the DoD VI Records Schedule?

DMA uses the VI Records Schedule in two methods.  First, the guidance provides the creators of the VI records with descriptions for when their content should be sent to DMA.  The second is the actual schedule of records to be transferred from DMA to NARA to meet the scheduled requirements for each visual information item within the records schedule.  This workflow specifically includes the disposition of records as "permanent" or "temporary" and what should subsequently be done with either category of records.  

Permanent records are those determined by NARA as having sufficient value to warrant continued preservation by the Federal Government as part of the National Archives of the United States.   

Temporary records are those determined by NARA for either immediate disposal of for disposal after a specified time or event.

DMA's VI Records Center used a tiered approach to the disposal of records.  Before actual destruction of temporary records, the VI Records Center attempts to place these records with institutions that could find them useful.  These institutions include the US Military Services academies, museums and libraries.  When these official institutions decline, DMA considers unofficial organizations such as various museums and libraries specializing in the pertinent subject matter of the records in question.  When there is no other response, the VI Records Center will destroy the record per NARA guidelines.  

NOTE: Copies of the visual information records transferred to NARA (determined permanent) are always kept by DMA for use by the Department and in most cases the public at large.  

4. How should DoD photographers and Public Affairs offices use the DoD VI Records Schedule?

VI record creators should refer to the guidance describing when your content should be sent to the DMA VI Records Center.  Use the actual schedule of records to meet the scheduled requirements for each visual information item regarding the disposition of records as "permanent" or "temporary" and what should subsequently be done with either category of records.

5. Why does the National Archives manage Department of Defense records? 

In a democracy, records belong to the people, and for more than seven decades, NARA has preserved and provided access to the records of the United States of America.  Records help us claim our rights and entitlements, hold our elected officials accountable for their actions, and document our history as a nation.  In short, NARA ensures continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their Government.  

The National Archives was established in 1934 by President Franklin Roosevelt, but its major holdings date back to 1775.  They capture the sweep of the past: slave ship manifests and the Emancipation Proclamation; captured German records and the Japanese surrender documents from World War II; journals of polar expeditions and photographs of Dust Bowl farmers; Indian treaties making transitory promises; and a richly bound document bearing the bold signature "Bonaparte"-the Louisiana Purchase Treaty that doubled the territory of the young republic.  

NARA keeps only those Federal records that are judged to have continuing value-about 2 to 5 percent of those generated in any given year.  By now, they add up to a formidable number, diverse in form as well as in content.  There are approximately 10 billion pages of textual records; 12 million maps, charts, and architectural and engineering drawings; 25 million still photographs and graphics; 24 million aerial photographs; 300,000 reels of motion picture film; 400,000 video and sound recordings; and 133 terabytes of electronic data.  All these materials are preserved because they are important to the workings of Government, have long-term research worth, or provide information of value to citizens.

In addition, NARA must also manage the rapidly growing number of electronic Government records.  Now being developed, the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) is our strategic response to the challenge of preserving, managing, and providing access to electronic records. ERA will keep essential electronic Federal records retrievable, readable, and authentic for as long as they remain valuable-whether that is a few years or a few hundred years.

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Download the Records Schedule

Current edition: 2015

Download PDF (61 KB)




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