NOAA Vital Records Liaison's Guide
Table of Contents
Purpose Of Guide
This NOAA Vital Records Liaison's Guide has been prepared for use by all NOAA Vital Records Liaisons and agency personnel needing information about the vital records program.
The NOAA Vital Records Program provides the policies and procedures for the identification, protection, updating, and retrieval of vital records. Vital Records are those critical hard copy records and electronic data necessary to maintain the continuity of operations during an emergency. The two basic categories of vital records are emergency operating records and rights and interests records.
Vital records may be protected in different ways, depending upon the record format. Some records are duplicated and stored off-site. Washington, DC Area vital records are stored at NCDC in Asheville, NC. Other vital records are dispersed to multiple locations and electronic vital records are protected through ITS' LAN and mainframe system backup and recovery procedures.
Purpose of Vital Records Program
The Vital Records Program provides policies and procedures for the management of NOAA's vital records. The Records Management office implements the NOAA vital records program by:
- Working with the staff and Line Offices to identify the records essential for the continuity and/or resumption of mission-critical functions or protection of the legal and financial rights of the NOAA, its employees, or the public.
- Coordinating with program offices for the protection of vital records (dispersal, duplication, storage in appropriately fire-rated filing equipment, system backups).
- Providing vital records program operating procedures.
- Establishing program reporting requirements.
- Overseeing the Vital Records Program.
The Vital Records Liaison’s Responsibilities
The NAO 210-2, Vital Records Plan, establishes the NOAA Vital Records Program which requires the appointment of vital records liaisons who have the following responsibilities:
- Assisting the Records Management office in identifying new vital records or records that should no longer be designated as vital.
- Assisting the Records Management office in determining the appropriate method of protecting vital records.
- Arranging for the duplication of vital records for off-site storage, if required as a protection method.
- Coordinating the transfer of duplicated vital records to an appropriate off-site storage facility and tracking their location.
- Maintaining copies of transmittal forms, inventories and box labels (NOAA 62-7) for vital records stored off-site.
- Facilitating the retrieval of vital records in an emergency or disaster.
- Ensuring that vital records stored off-site are updated in accordance with the inventory schedule.
- Submitting the yearly certification of records stored off site and updating the vital records inventory for their records.
Laws, Regulations, and Guidelines
The NOAA Vital Records Program is established under the following authorities:
- Executive Order 10346, issued 4/17/1952. This executive order makes departments and agencies responsible for carrying out their essential functions in an emergency.
- Executive Order 12656, issued 11/18/1988. This executive order defines agency responsibilities during a national security emergency.
- Executive Order 13231, 2002, Homeland Security
- 44 USC 3101. This statute requires that heads of agencies make and preserve records containing adequate and proper documentation of the agency's organization, functions, policies, procedures, decisions, and essential transactions, and to furnish information to protect the legal and financial rights of the Government and of persons directly affected by the agency=s activities.
- 36 CFR Part 1236- Management of Vital Records. This regulation, issued by the National Archives and Records Administration, provides the framework for an agency's vital records program.
- Vital Records and Records Disaster Mitigation and Recovery. National Archives and Records Administration Instructional Guide, 1996.
- NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 210-2 - Vital Records Plan
Vital Records are those critical hard copy records and electronic data necessary to maintain the continuity of operations during an emergency, to recover full operations following an emergency, and to protect the legal rights and interests of citizens and the Government. The two basic categories of vital records are emergency operating records and rights and interests records.
Emergency Operating Records are critical electronic data and hard copy records necessary to support the continuity of operations during an emergency, to provide necessary support to other Federal agencies during an emergency, and to recover full operations following an emergency.
Rights and Interests Records are critical hard copy records and electronic data required for the preservation of the rights and interests of individual citizens and the Government. These records include proof of ownership, financial interests and legal proceedings and decisions
Emergency Operating Records (Vital Records) Inventory is an inventory of critical electronic and hard copy records, and back up tapes needed to support emergency operations.
Continuity of Operations Plans are plans developed by NOAA services, staff offices, and regions to define essential emergency functions and prescribe procedures for their accomplishment. Plans should include identification of records necessary to support emergency operations.
Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is an alternate site established at the direction of the Emergency Coordinator or a regional emergency coordinator to coordinate the response to a limited emergency, and provide a consolidation point for information pertinent to the emergency. It provides off-site storage for Vital Records.
Emergency Operating Facility (EOF) is an alternate facility or relocation site that will serve as operational headquarters during a wide spread emergency.
Fly Away Kits are packages of hard copy and electronic emergency operating records and backup tapes, notebook computers, printers, cellular phones, pagers, basic office supplies, and other items or materials that the members of the Management Team at the Emergency Operating Center can use during an emergency.
Vital Records Inventories
The Records Management office manages the process for identifying vital records in Washington, DC area and the regions. Washington, DC area offices and the regions are required to identify new or discontinued vital records and to certify the accuracy and completeness of their inventories. They also are required to certify that vital records stored off-site are complete and current.
Identifying Vital Records
Records that meet the following criteria are vital:
- Essential for the continuation or resumption of a mission-critical function, or to protect the legal and financial rights of NOAA, its employees, or the public.
- Irreplaceable or extremely difficult to replace.
Vital records format:
- Vital records may be in any format, including paper, electronic, and photographs. The electronic version is designated as the vital record unless retaining the record in paper form is mandated by a fiscal, administrative or legal requirement.
The vital records inventories contain the following:
- a description of the records
- when the records would be needed in an emergency or disaster
- location of the original record and any duplicates
- the action taken to protect the records (system backup, dispersal, duplication, storage in fire-rated filing equipment)
- when and how often the records need to be updated
- name of individual/office with responsibilities for records
- type of media
Completing the Vital Records Inventory
Each Vital Records Liaison will be responsible for completing the Vital Records Inventory for his/her office. The following steps will be taken in conducting the inventory:
- Identify the critical functions for the office.
- Interview the office that has the critical function to determine the records that are created. Use the Inventory Form to record the information.
- Identify the appropriate Disposition Authority from the NOAA Disposition Handbook and list it on the Inventory Form.
- Make a copy of the completed form.
- Send a copy of the completed form to Records Management: Pat Erdenberger
- Keep the original as official record and for future updates.
- Records Management will review the completed Form and notify the Liaison with any changes.
Transferring the Records to the Off-site Location
The Vital Records Liaison will be responsible for transferring the Vital Records to the Off-site Location.
Updating Inventories and Certifying Records Stored Off-site
- Each Washington, DC area and Regional Vital Records Liaison is required to update his/her vital records inventory annually.
- Vital Records Liaison shall identify new vital records or records that should no longer be designated as vital.
- Vital Records Liaisons are required to annually certify the accuracy and completeness of their inventories and submit to the Records Management office.
- Vital Records Liaisons are required annually to certify the accuracy and completeness of any duplicated vital records in off-site storage.
- The Records Management office must concur with any inventory changes before they become effective.
The Records Management office issues the official vital records inventories for Washington, DC area and the regions annually.