On August 18, 2011, the National Archives released the statement below, addressing an allegation that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had been destroying documents it wasn’t authorized to destroy. Part of the AHA’s mission is to advocate for the proper collection and preservation of historical documents, so we follow situations like this one closely.
Washington, DC. . . In July 2010, the National Archives contacted the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding an allegation that the SEC had been destroying files pertaining to Matters Under Inquiry (MUI) for the past 17 years. Because a NARA-approved disposition schedule did not exist for these records, the SEC did not have authority to dispose of them per the Federal Records Act, 44 USC 3314 and 36 CFR 1220.18.
In the last year, the National Archives has continued to work with the SEC to prevent future unauthorized destruction of MUI files. While the National Archives is satisfied that the destruction has stopped, NARA remains concerned that the SEC has been slow in creating records schedules for review and approval by the Archivist of the United States that will ultimately determine how long these MUI records need to be retained.
On a regular basis, the National Archives works closely with Federal Agencies, to resolve allegations of unauthorized destruction of Federal records, again consistent with the Federal Records Act, 44 USC Chapter 31 and 36 CFR Part 1230 (Unlawful or Accidental Removal, Defacing, Alteration, or Destruction of Records).
The National Archives is always concerned about unauthorized disposal of records and works closely with agencies to adopt best practices to properly manage their records. This is a very high priority for the agency because effective records management is central to assuring citizen rights and government accountability, and ensuring that the subset of Federal records that have permanent value is identified and preserved in the National Archives to document the American Experience.