Author: Government recordkeeping

Imagine how you’d feel on a Monday morning to go into work and head down to the basement (which is where your records are stored) and it’s turned into a cross between a swimming pool and an open sewer, or, if one night you receive a phone call explaining your office was gutted by fire; including the records storage area that you’re responsible for.

While having a Disaster Management and Recovery Plan won’t stop a burst pipe or a fire, it can make recovering from such an event a lot easier.


Get Covered and Read It

One important component of a Disaster Management and Recovery Plan is insurance information. The name and contact details of your insurer as well as any preferred companies they have for recovery work should be kept accessible, even in cases where the office is destroyed. Vital information includes exactly what the insurance covers and how much your recovery budget will be. It may sound callous, but perhaps your disaster recovery insurance doesn't cover faulty plumbing, or recovery of records being stored in an environment where disaster risks were evident (such as exposed sewerage pipes) and no mitigation actions had been taken.


Paper Recovery Vs Digital Recovery

Methods for recovery of records after a disaster differ according to the format of the record and the nature of the disaster. For example, water damaged paper records respond well to vacuum freeze drying; but parchment, vellum, painted media and photographs do not and so should not be treated that way. Records held on a computer or in a server may not be lost, even if they have been gutted by fire. There are organisations which specialise in recovering records from disaster situations and that should be called in as quickly as possible to ensure maximum record recovery.


What Matters Most?

Choices will need to be made regarding which records to focus on as a recovery budget is unlikely to be sufficient to cover everything. An understanding of which records are vital for the organisation, where they were stored and on what medium will provide much needed direction for prioritising recovery work and expenditure. Another factor is whether there are copies of the affected records in another location which remain accessible for business continuity.


Assess your storage area

Of course the most effective approach to disaster recovery is careful planning. Conducting a risk assessment of records storage areas may have identified the potential for water damage resulting from a burst pipe, for example. Mitigation measures may have included not using the basement to store records, refitting the basement, routinely checking the state of the pipes and placing important records on higher shelves, and ensuring backup arrangements for digital records had been tested and are effective.