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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

433.3 - Vital Records

4/16/87

OPR: Admin/Facilities and Management Services

1. Purpose. This chapter establishes guidelines and policies for identifying, storing, maintaining, and reporting the vital records of the USGS. To ensure the continued operation of essential functions in the event of a national civil defense or other emergency, it is necessary that the records associated with these functions be readily available at the time and place where they would be needed.

2. Policy. The USGS will maintain a vital records program to the maximum extent practical, consistent with funding and staffing limitations.

3. Definitions. The term "vital records" is synonymous with "essential records," "indispensable records," "relocation records," and several other terms denoting records vital to the continuity of governmental activities under national emergency conditions. Vital Records include:

A. Emergency Operating Records. This category of records relates to the essential functions of the USGS for the duration of an emergency if this country is attacked, and comprises organization and staffing records, directives for emergency operation, and substantive records basic to implementation of emergency operations. (Also see SM 1000.1.)

B. Rights and Interests Records. This category of vital records relates to the preservation of rights and interests of individual citizens and of the Government. These include records of Social Security deposits, retirement, payroll, and insurance records, and other evidence of amounts due individuals or the Government.

4. Standards for Vital Records Operations (436 DM 1).

A. Inventory records to identify those vital to both emergency operating and rights and interests categories, and determine what records would be needed in support of the function under emergency conditions. Include records covering organization, assignment of specific duties and responsibilities, delegation of authority, succession to command, and related emergency readiness matters.

B. Select and List those records required under emergency conditions.

C. Develop and Publish guidelines and procedures for protecting and maintaining the vital records.

D. Review vital records operations for adequacy and completeness, at least once annually.

E. Indoctrinate personnel concerned with vital records.

F. Test operations under simulated emergency conditions to ensure that procedures are adequate and the records selected for protection are kept current and maintained in a state of readiness.

5. Responsibilities.

A. Division Chiefs or their designated representatives are responsible for the identification of vital records of the division and for implementing a program for the safeguarding, maintenance, and updating of these records.

B. The Chief, Branch of Administrative Services and the Regional Management Officers will provide assistance in obtaining space and security provisions for the safeguarding of vital records.

6. Methods for Storage and Safeguarding Vital Records. The method of storing and safeguarding the vital records of the divisions is left to the discretion of the divisions. The following methods are considered acceptable:

A. Dispersed Records. Most often vital records are maintained as duplicate copies with the duplicate sets on file at separate locations within the USGS. This method is considered the most economical and effective method of protecting vital records provided the locations of these documents are known.

B. Storage at Relocation Sites. Storage of vital records at designated relocation sites is permissible. When considering this method of storage, consideration must be given to the availability of special equipment, transportation requirements, security, and method of updating and maintaining the records.

C. Vital Records Storage at Federal Records Centers. The National Archives provides for the storage, protection and servicing of rights and interests vital records. The facilities of all Federal records centers, regardless of geographic location, are available for agencies desiring to store these records. In addition to storage space for paper records, each NARA records center has environmentally controlled space suitable for the storage of vital records on magnetic tape and photographic film.

USGS offices may make arrangements for the transfer of their rights and interests records to any of the records centers by contacting the USGS Paperwork Management Officer.

7. Security. Where a detailed description of the records and their locations are considered a security matter, the report should be security classified appropriate to the degree of classified information it contains.


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Last modification: 11-Jan-2013@10:30 (bt)