Identifying and protecting your Vital Records allows you to re-establish normal operations in your office soon, if not immediately, after a disaster. By realizing the importance of your records for continuing your office functions and arranging for protection of these records, you will save valuable time and resources after an emergency. You will be able to concentrate on restoring operations rather than finding necessary information or spending money and time on restoring unnecessary records.
The identification and protection of your Vital Records is crucial as it allows you to:
- Minimize the disruption of normal business operations after an emergency.
- Minimize the economic impact of the disruption.
- Provide for rapid and smooth restoration of services.
- Comply with legal and regulatory requirements.
- Recover and/or salvage office vital records and assets (i.e., equipment) rather than using time to recover unnecessary information.
Although you may not realize it, regardless of the damage your office may receive due to a disaster and the resulting problems you experience in re-establishing your normal operations, other offices that have also had damage may immediately need some of the records/functions your office provides. That makes your Vital Records important not only to you but also to the University as a whole.
In addition to the practicality of identifying and protecting your Vital Records, your office has legal obligations with regard to your records and their protection. UW Administrative Policy Statement 57.11 states that "Each individual University office has primary legal responsibility for the proper care and management of its records." This includes the protection of records in the event of an emergency.
The Revised Code of Washington Chapter 40.10.010 requires State agencies to provide adequate protection of their Vital Records by the most economical means possible. Protection methods accepted by the State are outlined in How Do You Protect Vital Records and How Do You Store Vital Records. As the University is considered a state agency, this chapter applies to University records identified as vital.
Some federal guidelines may apply to departments/offices which receive funding in the form of federal grants. When an office is audited by a federal agency that has issued it a grant, failure to provide records requested because of a disaster is not considered an adequate response to an audit request.