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Section 4: Using a File Plan

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Definition and Content

All TxDOT office or work units are required to develop and maintain a file plan. Records custodians must certify the currency and accuracy of their file plans to the DDO Records Administrator, who, in turn must certify the currency and accuracy of their organization's file plan to TxDOT Records Management.

The file plan discussed in this section is distinct from the EDMS file plan. A file plan is an index and a location guide to the information in files. It identifies record copy files to manage in accordance with the records retention schedule, retention requirements, and includes records being retained.

File plans must be reviewed and revised as necessary to maintain their utility for locating files. They can serve as a running inventory of an office’s records.

The standard department file plan is an Excel spread sheet that includes the following file plan information.

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Record Type

The record type may be a general description or a specific file name.

File Title/Description

File titles or descriptions identify major groups, minor groups and individual file folders. Major and minor group titles and descriptions may also appear on file guides in file cabinet drawers. Include instructions for standard electronic document/file naming conventions as applicable.


Files may be located in a variety of places. The file plan should guide users to the right place. For small offices, a general location statement may suffice. Larger offices may need to develop a numbering system for file cabinets and drawers or include a map or layout of the file cabinets with the file plan. File plans for electronic files may include directory paths and folder names. or by Document Class and Record Type properties in the EDMS.

The following procedure is an easy way to copy and paste files in a shared drive:

  1. Open a blank worksheet in Excel with a wide column A.
  2. Open the shared drive and select List View.
  3. Highlight all folders.
  4. Right click and select Copy as Path.
  5. Paste to the first column and row in the spreadsheet. Note: The folders may not paste in the same order as originally displayed. Highlight the column and select Sort A to Z.
  6. Create enough rows in the file plan template to accept the folder list.
  7. Copy and paste the folder list to the file plan.

File Organization Description

Describe how files are organized. The description may include records and date range(s) in retention to be updated during annual currency review and certification.


Identify record copy files to help file management procedures related to retention and disposition of records.


Enter retention periods for record copy files. Although information and convenience copies need to be retained only as long as needed, some offices include retention periods for them on the file plan if it is important to keep the records for specific periods.

RSS Item

For record copy files, the agency item number from the TxDOT records retention schedule is necessary when completing the records destruction log after purging files. Having it on the file plan is a convenient reference.

The following figure illustrates the file plan formats.

 (click in image to see full-size image)

 (click in image to see full-size image)

Link here to a file plan template document.

Coordinating review and acceptance of the plan during its development among those who are responsible for and/or use the files helps to ensure filing accuracy. The file plan is a dynamic document that should be revised as needed.


The Records Custodian shall certify the accuracy and currency of the file plan and forward a copy to the DDO Records Administrator. TxDOT Records Management sends an annual reminder to DDO Records Administrators to have their respective Records coordinators review and certify the currency and accuracy of their file plans. When local review is completed, the Records Administrator shall send an email to TxDOT Records Management certifying the currency and accuracy of the file plans within their organization.

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Distributing the File Plan

Keep a copy of the file plan available at a central location for reference by employees. Making the plan available in an office’s shared drive or on an intranet site is an efficient method of dissemination. In hard-copy files, it may be helpful to insert a copy of the file plan at the front of each file drawer.

NOTE: It can also be helpful to maintain a file of previous file plans to use when records need to be retrieved from storage.

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Support for Discovery and Open Records

DDO records administrators should maintain a file of current and recent file plans for their organizations to aid compliance efforts related to legal discovery and open records.

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