Land and Resource Serialized Case File Management

Instruction Memorandum

United States Department of the Interior

September 22, 2022

In Reply Refer To:
1274 (HQ-350) P

Instruction Memorandum No. 2022-060
Expires:  09/30/2025

To:                  All Field Office Officials

From:              Assistant Director, Energy, Minerals and Realty Management

Subject:           Land and Resource Serialized Case File Management

Program Area:  All Energy, Minerals and Realty Programs.

Purpose:  This Instruction Memorandum (IM) describes the case file management process to ensure all Federal records created, retained, and managed in electronic formats, with appropriate metadata and approved digital electronic signatures, are incorporated into serialized paper case files.

Administrative or Mission Related:  Mission.

Policy/Action:  Energy, mineral, and realty case file documents signed with an approved digital software electronic signature must be printed and filed in serial case files using this process:

  1. Save the digital file to its permanent official location.
  2. Select the official electronic record, download, and print for the serialized case file.
  3. Note on printed copy the location of the digital file and stamp "Authoritative Copy".
  4. Date and Initial next to the stamp imprint.
  5. Place in the appropriate serialized case file.

Timeframe:  Effective immediately.

Budget Impact:  The budget impact is minimal.

Background:  Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Manual Section (MS)-1274 requires all land status documents, filings, and other case related documents to be filed in the physical serial case file within the office docket system.  These serialized case files organize all related decision records about a particular case in one location.  These serialized case files are scheduled as permanent records.  Serialized case files contain information needed to determine current land status, authorized uses, and ownership.

Historically, BLM serialized case files have been created, used, and stored in analog (paper and other non-electronic) formats (also referred to as “manual” and “physical”).  The paper medium is designated as the Official Record Copy of the case file.  These records must be managed and preserved in the original medium in accordance with this Manual and records schedules.  Electronic copies may be created for reference and convenience purposes only until such time when a National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) approved electronic recordkeeping system is implemented and the digitized record (meeting all standards) is accepted as the Official Record Copy (BLM MS-1270 2.1(e)).

The BLM Lands Records and Cadastral Survey programs are in the process of transitioning to a fully digital system as directed by NARA M-19-21OMB M-19-21 (June 28, 2019).  However, successful transition includes additional work in two distinct areas:  scanning and indexing existing records and development of an official electronic system for creation and maintenance of future records.  The BLM has made significant progress on scanning, indexing, and publishing existing records.  There are nearly 12 million land title record images available on the General Land Office Records Automation System website alone; however, it is estimated more than 52 million records remain to be digitized.  The BLM has made significant progress on development of a system capable of hosting a fully digital land title records system with the launch of the Mineral and Land Records System.  Once complete, the BLM will have the capability to manage records digitally; however, the implementation including policy and business rule development and data cleanup is also necessary.

Until an official digital case file repository is approved by the records management board, the BLM is subject to the following provisions.

Automated land systems and digital signature technology are available for some forms and actions relating to serialized case file records.  When used, the digital records must be incorporated into the serialized case file to ensure a complete record.  Once placed in the serialized case files, copies of digital records are considered an authoritative copy of the official record and can be used in routine and ordinary processes in the future.  Extraordinary circumstances may require use of the official digital record; therefore, the digital storage location of the original record must be noted on the authoritative case file copy.

The official agency copy of a digitally signed record is the digital file; however, the entire record of case actions must be included in the serialized case file.  Therefore, each digitally signed serialized case file record must be printed, notated with the storage location of the official digital file, and placed in the serialized case file.  Copies of records included in the serialized case files are considered authoritative copies and can be used for routine case actions.

Manual/ Handbook Sections Affected:  This IM supplements guidance contained in the BLM MS 1274.

Coordination:  This IM was coordinated with the Division of Lands, Realty, and Cadastral Survey (HQ350); Division of Solid Minerals (HQ320); Division of Fluid Minerals (HQ310); National Renewable Energy Coordination Office (HQ330); and the Bureau Records Officer.

Contact: If you have questions regarding the information within this IM, please contact Dominica VanKoten (HQ-350) by email at or by telephone at (571) 266-9585.


Signed by:                          Authenticated by:
Nicholas Douglas              Robert M. Williams
Assistant Director             Division Regulatory Affairs and Directives,(HQ-630)
Energy, Minerals, and Realty

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