Federal Records Management

Resources - Vital Records and Records Disaster Mitigation and Recovery - Appendix C

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Appendix C. Sample Vital Records Directives

1999 Web Edition

  • NARA does not mandate that format, organization, or design of agency issuances that implement the vital records and records disaster mitigation and recovery programs. The following vital records directives from two Federal agencies are provided as examples of agency internal issuances. Other agencies will decide how and where to incorporate the requirements specified in NARA regulations into their operations, and how to authorize and document these programs.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Vital Records Directive
Minerals Management Service, Vital Records Directive

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Vital Records Directive

Volume 3, Part 2 - Records Management
NRC Records Management Program
Handbook 3.53; Part V

Part V
Procedures for Managing Vital Records

Introduction (A)

  • This part provides instructions for NRC staff in the selection, preparing, and inventory of vital records and the transmission, maintenance, and disposition of these records at NRC relocation sites as part of the NRC Vital Records Program.


Vital Records (B)

Records essential to NRC's continued operations during a national emergency comprise "NRC vital records." These records are categorized as either emergency operating records or rights and interests records.

Emergency Operating Records (1)

Records that are vital to the essential activities of the NRC for the duration of an emergency if the country is attached comprise "emergency operating records." NRC's essential activities during national emergencies are defined in Management Directive (MD) 6.2, "Continuity of Government Programs." Included are records needed for -- (a)

  • The military effort (i)


  • The mobilization and protection of material and personnel resources, services, and systems (ii)


  • The maintenance of public health, safety, and order (iii)


  • The conduct of essential civil defense activities (iv)


    • These records must be available at or in the vicinity of relocation sites and should be in a usable form that does not rely on special equipment. Emergency operating records could include classified or sensitive unclassified information. (b)

      Records in the category consist of those operating records needed to perform or administer the following essential NRC functions: (c)

      • Oversight surveillance of the operations of licensed nuclear reactors and fuel cycle facilities to ensure minimum hazard to health and safety consistent with national security needs (i)


      • Assessment of damage to nuclear facilities (ii)


      • Assessment of threats to special nuclear materials, high-level radioactive wastes, and nuclear facilities (iii)


      • Assessment of requirements for recapture of special nuclear material (iv)


      • Assessment of safety criteria for licensed nuclear facilities (and special nuclear material) relevant to the national emergency (v)


      • Liaison with -- (vi)
        • - The office designed by the President to receive reports on the NRC emergency preparedness functions, for advice on the content of public instructions and information, and for recommendations concerning NRC's role in achieving national objectives (a)

          - Other Federal agencies with related functions (b)

          - State agencies concerning emergency conditions and required actions related to licensed facilities and materials (c)

      Current copies of records identified as emergency operating records are maintained continuously at NRC relocated sites (d)

      Rights and Interests Records (2)

      Records that are required for the preservation of the legal rights and interests of individual citizens and of the Federal Government comprise "rights and interests records." These records require protection but need not be maintained at or in the vicinity of a relocation site, nor kept in paper form because their need would not be immediate. Copies of rights and interests records are safeguarded in the NRC Archival Facility (AF) or the Washington National Records Center. Examples of these records are records containing proof of ownership, financial interest (payroll, leave, social security, retirement, insurance), legal proceedings decisions, contractual obligations, and similar records.  These records could contain sensitive or classified information.

    Objectives of the NRC Vital Records Program (C)

    • The objectives of the NRC Vital Records Programs are --
      • To ensure that emergency operating records vital to the continuity of essential NRC activities during a national emergency will be available at NRC relocation sites in the event that those sites are activated during a national emergency. (1)


      • To safeguard rights and interest records essential to the preservation of the legal rights and interests of individual citizens and the Federal government. (2)


      • To ensure that vital records are evaluated on the basis of their essentiality in carrying out emergency operations or in protection the rights and interests of citizens and the Government and not on their value as permanent records. The records must be adequate for use by individuals other than those who would generally use them. (3)


      • To employ control techniques to ensure that needed records are available at NRC relocation sites. (4)


      • To ensure that records will be easily retrievable and maintained in usable condition. (5)


      • To ensure that the necessary finding aids are available at the sites. (6)


      • To ensure that a current inventory of records located at the sites is readily accessible. (7)

    Duties (D)

    • The NRC Records Officer is responsible for staff leadership, coordination, and audit of the NRC Vital Records Program, as well as the periodic evaluation of files maintenance and disposition activities at emergency relocation sites.  The NRC Records Officer makes quarterly site visits to evaluate the records stored at the NRC headquarters' relocation site. (1)

      The NRC Records Officer collects and maintains a select master set of Federal and NRC directives, handbooks, forms, and other issuances, both administrative and technical. (2)

      Each major NRC program office is responsible for the implementation and operation of the vital program within its area of responsibility. (3)

      Records Liaison Officers (RLOs) are responsible for ensuring that copies of all records selected for retention at the relocation sites are collected and submitted on schedule to the NRC Records Officer for transfer to the appropriate relocation site. (4)

    Vital Records Plans and Reviews (E)

    • Vital Records Plan (1)

      Each office and region shall propose a "Vital Records Plan," NRC form 340 (Exhibit 24), that will identify -- (a)

      • The emergency operating records that the office or region needs at NRC relocation sites in order to perform their assigned responsibilities during a national emergency. The office or region must identify the specific relocation site where the emergency operating records will be needed. (i)


      • The rights and interest records that the office or region believes should be safeguarded at the NRC AF. (ii)
      Each vital records plan must be signed by the office director, or regional administrator, as appropriate, and the office or regional RLO. The RLO will forward the signed plan to the NRC Records Officer for approval.  Upon approval of the plan by the NRC Records Officer, the Office of Information Resources Management (IRM), in conjunction with the NRC office or region, will prepare an NRC Form 340A, "Vital Records Plan Identification and Implementation Data" (Exhibit 25) for each record item identified on the approved plan. The NRC Form 340A will contain all of the instructions and data necessary to transmit and update the records at the appropriate storage location. A copy of each approved NRC Form 340 with its associated NRC Form 340 will be forwarded by IRM to all Commissioners, the Secretary of the Commission, each office and regional RLO, and to the NRC relocation sites. (b)

      Annual Vital Records Plan Update (2)

      IRM will request annual updated plans from each office and region to ensure that the records currently maintained for the vital records program are still adequate and needed in view of new or revised NRC program requirements.  Revised plans will be processed and distributed in accordance with the instructions specified in Section (E)(1) above.

    Implementation of the Plan

    • Records Preparation (1)

      To the extent possible, vital records selected for retention at relocation sites or the AF should be generated routinely as prepared or used to accomplish daily activities to preclude the need to make copies later.  Directions for copying automated data processing (ADP) records needed for the vital records program should be included in the ADP program instructions.

      Transmission of Vital Records to the NRC Records Officer (2)

      All vital records items listed on the approved vital records plans will be sent to the NRC Records Officer according to the NRC Form 340A.  The RLO listed on the Form 340A is responsible for the timely transmittal of vital records to the NRC Records Officer.

      Updating Emergency Operating Records at the NRC Relocation Sites (3)

      IRM is responsible for ensuring that the emergency operating records listed on the approved plans are updated at the appropriate relocation sites. Emergency operation records will be updated quarterly unless indicated otherwise on the NRC Form 340A.

      Updating Rights and Interest Records at the NRC Archival Facility (AF) (4)

      IRM will update rights and interest records safeguarded at the AF as indicated on the NRC Form 340A.

    Minerals Management Service Vital Records Directive


    Administrative Series
    Part 384 Records Disposition
    Chapter 1 Vital Records

    1. Purpose. The purpose of this chapter is to ensure the ready availability of vital records needed for the continued operation of essential functions within the Minerals Management Service (MMS) in the event of a national or regional emergency.

    2. Authority.

    • A. 36 CFR 1236.

      B. Departmental Manual (380 DM 1 Records Management).


    3. Definitions. Vital records are those records essential to the continuity of the MMS activities under national or regional emergency conditions. Vital records are divided into two categories:

    • A. Emergency Operating Records are records vital to the essential functions of the Federal Government for the duration of an emergency and comprise records necessary for the mobilization and protection of material and manpower resources, services, and systems; the maintenance of public health, safety, and order; and the conduct of essential civil defense activities. These records are divided into two categories: (1) Emergency operating Group 1, those records which define the basic organization, its directives, regulations, emergency procedures (for example, the Emergency Preparedness Plan and ADP Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP)), etc.; and (2) Emergency Operating - Group 2, those records which show the current status off-offshore operations, such as production statistics.

      B. Rights and Interests Records are records that are essential for the preservation of legal rights and interests of individual citizens and the Federal Government. Examples of these records are personnel security files, Official Personnel Files, and valuable research records; in addition, for MMS, these records include leasing, royalty accounting, and other similar records.

    4. Policy. It is the policy of the MMS to establish a vital Records Program for the safeguarding of emergency operating and rights and interests records.

    5. Standards.

    • A. Emergency Operating - Group 1 records need to be available in paper copies during an emergency; hence, they should be duplicated and stored offsite. It is desirable to have current Emergency Operating - Group 2 records available during an emergency; however, because of volume, each Regional Director must determine to what extent these records will be copied and stored offsite;

      B. Rights and interests records should be protected, but it is not mandatory for them to be available during an emergency. There are no copying requirements for these records.

      C. When using magnetic or other machine-readable media, a copy of the software or other information required to use the records should be accorded the same category as the records themselves.

    6. Responsibilities.

    • A. All Associate/Assistant Directors, the Chiefs of the Offices of Congressional and Legislative Affairs and Minerals Management Information, the Service Equal opportunity Manager, the Regional Directors, the Program Director for Strategic and International Minerals, and the Administrative Service Center Managers are responsible for identifying, safeguarding, maintaining, and updating vital records within their areas of responsibility and for appointing Records officers and File Custodians. (See MMSM 380.1.) Regional Directors are further responsible for determining, because of potential volumes, to what degree their Region's Emergency operating - Group 2 records will be duplicated and stored elsewhere.

      B. The Assistant Director for Administration has overall administrative responsibility for the management of a Vital Records Program. The Assistant Director for Administration will appoint a Records Manager to carry out this responsibility.

      C. The Records Manager will:

      • (1) Provide assistance in obtaining space and security provisions for safeguarding vital records.

        (2) Assist in the transfer of rights and interests records to a Federal Records Center (FRC) or other suitable location.

        (3) Develop and publish guidelines necessary for protection and maintenance of vital records, along with a list of MMS records series which cover vital records. (See Appendix 1.)

        (4) Provide for the safeguarding of proprietary information in cooperation with the MMS Security Officer. (See paragraph E.)

      D. Records Officers and File Custodians are responsible for identifying, safeguarding, maintaining, and updating vital records within their areas of responsibility.

      E. The MMS Security Officer is responsible for the safeguarding of proprietary information in cooperation with the Records Manager.

      F. Emergency Preparedness Officer is responsible for the safeguarding of emergency operating records.

    7. Procedures. The Records Officers in consultation with the Records Manager and Security Officer will:

    • A. Inventory records and identify those vital to the emergency operating and rights and interests categories and determine those records which would be needed to support a function under emergency conditions. These records may cover the organization, assignment of specific duties and responsibilities, delegation of authority, succession to command, and related emergency readiness matters.

      B. Review vital records for adequacy and completeness.

      C. Duplicate vital records (see paragraphs 5A and B) for storage, with sets, maintained offsite (which may be at a separate location but within the MMS). When the duplicate is magnetic or other machine-readable media, a copy of the software program or other information required to use the records should be stored with them.

      D. Store vital records for safeguarding as follows:

      • (1) Storage within the MMS is considered the most economical and feasible method for protecting vital records.

        (2) Offsite storage is permissible. Consideration must be given to the availability of special equipment, transportation, security, and feasibility of updating and maintaining the records.

        (3) Storage at Federal Records Centers. The atmospheric conditions at the depositories are ideal for proper storage of photographic files, magnetic tapes, and paper records.

    Bibliographic note: Web version based on Vital Records and Records Disaster Mitigation and Recovery, National Archives and Records Administration Instructional Guide Series, College Park, MD (1996), 90 pp.

    Note: Web version may vary from the printed version.