Rule clarifies agency role in personnel file management

Tuesday - 8/23/2011, 12:18pm EDT

By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

Agencies are responsible for the costs of the creation and maintenance of employees' personnel records until those records are transferred to the the National Personnel Records Center, according to a final rule from the Office of Personnel Management published in the Federal Register today.

The rule, first proposed in January 2010, aims to clarify the responsibilities between agencies and OPM for Official Personnel Folders (OPFs).

Under the rule, agencies are solely responsible for employees' OPFs while the workers are still employed. Thirty days after an employment termination, the agency must transfer the OPF to NPRC, part of the National Archives and Records Adminsitration. After the transfer, OPM is responsible for the cost of storing OPFs.

OPFs contain workers' employment history and benefits information. These folders are records of OPM, but agencies are in charge of keeping content up-to-date.

The rule did not include specific costs of file creation and maintenance.

A commenter on the proposed rule pointed out the new rule would create a burden on NPRC, which would have to set up separate billing accounts for each agency. OPM responded that it "does not control the NPRC's billing and business practices, or how it will adjust to this rule ... [T]his rule is being adopted in order to rectify the ambiguity of which responsibilities are OPM's and which are responsibilities of the other agencies."

The rule is effective Sept. 22.