State Archives >  Records Management  > Local Government & Judicial System Services > Disaster Planning & Vital Records Management
Disaster Planning & Essential Records

Disaster planning and essential records protection are critical elements of an effective records management program. The Commonwealth's Emergency Operations Plan requires local government agencies to develop plans to protect records that are vital to governmental activities so that critical services will be uninterrupted, maintained or restored in the event of a disaster. PHMC provides information to these agencies to assist in the development of such plans.

In addition to providing training relating to disaster planning and essential records protection, staff have prepared generic templates (Microsoft Word format) for a Disaster Response and Recovery Plan for Records. These templates can be used by a variety of institutions including local governments to help prepare for potential disasters that could affect their records. By filling in the appropriate information, a local government can tailor these two plans to address its specific needs and programs.

Disaster Plan Template--Appendices (41 KB)
Disaster Plan Template (179 KB)
Essential Records Plan Template (69 KB)


The Disaster Response and Recovery Plan for Records templates:

• Includes information about prevention and preparation as well as recovery.
• Contains forms that can be used to develop lists. Information listed in Appendices
4 and 6 relating to vendors is part of the Plan for the Pennsylvania State Archives. Institutions may utilize this information, but its inclusion in these templates in no way constitutes an endorsement of said vendors by the Pennsylvania State Archives or the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
• Incorporates an Essential Records Protection Plan which contains information on 
identifying and protecting essential records. The appendices include an inventory form for essential records and a hazards survey worksheet.
• Provides immediate protection. A disaster plan for records can protect valuable
records, save time and money, and ensure the continued operation of government regardless of the extent of the incident. Once these plans have been completed, they should be reviewed with all staff members and updated annually to reflect changes in personnel, policies, facilities, equipment and records.


For additional information or assistance with completing these templates, contact Jerry
Ellis at (717) 787-3384 or RA-LocalGovernment@pa.gov. Mail inquires may be sent to Mr. Ellis at the following address: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Pennsylvania Archives Building, 350 North Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120-0090.