Type: Law Bulletins
Date: 12/14/2015

Revised Government Contract File Retention Policy

Starting Jan. 4, 2016, the Department of Defense, NASA and the GSA will revise their contract file retention policies.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) performed a five-year study regarding file retention. The DoD, NASA and the GSA are now updating their policies to conform with the new retention periods set by NARA based on the study.

There will no longer be a distinction in retention policies for contracts over and under the simplified threshold. Both types of contracts will be treated the same and will have a six-year retention period after final payment.

The other revised retention periods that will be found in FAR 4.805 are summarized here:

  • Contracts – six years after final payment.
  • Contractor payrolls under construction contracts – three years after contract completion.
  • Unsolicited proposals not accepted – retained in accordance with agency procedure.
  • Files for canceled solicitations – six years after cancelation.
  • Other administrative procurement file records – when business use ceases.
  • Documents pertaining generally to the contractor (listed in FAR 4.801(c)(3)) – until superseded or obsolete.
  • Data submitted to the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) – six years after submission.
  • Investigations and litigation – until final clearance or settlement or pursuant to document identified in paragraphs (c)(1) through (7).

This final rule will not have a public comment period because it is only changing the retention periods for the government.

FAR 4.7 – Contractor Records Retention remains unchanged and is shorter than the government's records retention in several instances. As a practical matter, this gap may create problems for contractors if a dispute arises after a contractor’s records have been destroyed but while the government’s records are still in existence.

This law update was co-authored by Taft partner Barbara Duncombe and Taft paralegal Christina Heidecker.

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