The Retention Schedule dictates the official disposition of public records from federal agencies, including the Peace Corps. Records are designated as temporary or permanent; to be destroyed or ultimately archived when they are not longer needed for day-to-day operations. Each agency develops its own recommendations on this phase of record management, which are then submitted to the National Archives and Records Administration for approval. This summary is the current Retention Schedule for Peace Corps records from Overseas Posts. I received this information in response to a FOIA request. The response is dated March 17, 2010. I do not know how long such instructions have been in effect. The Retention Schedule and its description of records is public information. However, I presume that many of the individual records may not be considered public information, depending on how the content is ultimately classified. This is a summary of the information from that FOIA request, as I understand it.
Briefing Books contain notes prepared by Headquarter and/or Post for high-level official’s visits. These records are considered permanent and transferred to the Federal Record Center through Peace Corps Headquarters, at the end of the FY or upon the Post closing, and after ten years transferred to the National Archives.
Country Welcome Books are materials on the background on the country’s culture, political climate, and other information, prepared for Volunteers and other staff. These records are considered permanent, they are to be transferred to the Federal Record Center through Peace Corps Headquarters, at the end of the FY or upon the Post closing, and after ten years transferred to the National Archives.
Country Graduation Files are materials prepared supporting closedown activities in an overseas post. The Country Graduation Books are permanent, they are “cut off” upon Post closing and are to be transferred to Federal Records Center through Peace Corps Headquarters and after ten years, transferred to the National Archives.
Country Graduation Background Files are temporary; they are “cut off” at the end of the FY or upon Post closing. They are to be kept at Peace Corps Headquarters for five years and then destroyed.
Legacy Reports are reports documenting the activities and accomplishment of an overseas post’s mission. These records are considered permanent, they are to be transferred to the Federal Record Center through Peace Corps Headquarters, at the end of the FY or upon the Post closing, and after ten years transferred to the National Archives.
Special Funds are records maintained by overseas posts documenting management of funds. Host Country Contributions are considered temporary and are to be destroyed after one year.
Partnership Program Funds are also considered temporary and are to be kept for three years after the project is closed, and then destroyed. They are not to be sent to the Federal Record Center.
Finally, Volunteer Allowances are those records maintained by overseas posts of volunteer allowances and management of allowances. They are all considered temporary, to be “cut off” at the end of the FY, kept for one year and then destroyed.
It would appear that these instructions should result in an adequate historical record of a post. I cannot reconcile that assumption with “The Peace Corps -A comprehensive Agency Assessment” that called for more systematic record keeping which should include a post history. It may well be that in the days of the in-house Peace Corps Library and Librarian such issues could be addressed. The Peace Corps Library, its function and its demise, will be the next topic.