2012 - 4th Quarter

Vital Records Protection Programs 2012

By Willie M. Jones, UM Records Management Analyst

What are vital records?

Vital records include records needed to:

  • operate the organization during a disaster
  • re-establish the organization’s functions after a disaster, and
  • establish and protect the rights and interest of the organization and its employees, customers and stakeholders.

Disaster Recovery (DR) and Preparedness for Information Protection

A vital records program identifies and protects records containing vital information necessary for an organization to continue its key functions and activities in case of an emergency/disaster.

How are vital records managed?

Managing vital records involves:

  • identifying and documenting vital records
  • finding measures to protect them, and
  • ensuring they are priorities for salvage in a disaster.

This management regime is effectively an ‘insurance policy’ against disruption to critical operations.

A vital records program is an essential component of a counter disaster program, which aims to prevent disasters or enable the organization to attain business continuity or quick recovery.


Vital records may be found in any part of the organization and in records created in the course of administrative and core functions.


Example: Types of vital recordsClient licensing records for a software firm may be considered vital because they establish the rights and interest of customers.  Likewise, personnel records are vital because they protect the rights and interest of the organization’s employees.



All University records designated as vital or essential to the operation of the University and which if destroyed would seriously impair or disrupt normal University affairs, or which by their loss might place the University in a state of legal or fiscal jeopardy, are to be secured, either by microfilm or other comparable duplication or suitable backup method of protection.

University departments have the primary responsibility to keep records designated as vital records safe and secure on a continuing basis regardless of the media format in which it is stored.  Departmental responsibility for vital records is defined in the Business Policy Manual under the guidelines of Records and Records Management, Policy #907.


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