Maintaining a CERT Program

Step 4: Maintaining Records

Maintaining CERT Records


Maintaining records can be tedious, but without proper recordkeeping, you will quickly fall behind and lose track of your program. Some tips for maintaining records are included below:

Identify your information needs and develop your forms from the start. Begin by identifying the potential information requests you will receive as a CERT coordinator. Then design your recordkeeping forms to meet your information needs before your program begins. Next, consider how you will track and organize the information you are collecting. And, finally design simple formats for reporting CERT accomplishments.
Collect only the data you need. Some personal information, such as home telephone and Social Security Numbers are protected from release by the Privacy Act. Some States protect driver license numbers and other information. Release of protected information requires the consent of each individual. The safer approach to protecting information is to not collect it unless you really need it.
Keep your database simple and backed up. Add information only as you need to. If your database is computerized, backup the database frequently. Keep these backup copies in a safe place (e.g., store the backups at a different location).
Don't bury yourself in records. Don't maintain data you won't need or won't use. Think carefully about what you really want to record before developing your forms.
Test the forms with your first class. Provide the forms to your first class to ensure that they record the information you need and work the way you want them to work.
Set aside time for record maintenance. Don't let recordkeeping get ahead of you. Set aside time every day or every week to input data. Develop a plan for archiving or destroying old records.
Be careful about sharing data. Sharing forms is one thing, but sharing personal data may be unlawful. As stated above, certain types of data, such as Social Security Numbers and home telephone numbers is covered under the Privacy Act and may not be released without the individual's permission. If you use a computerized database, it should be password protected.
Enlist some help. If you don't have an administrative assistant assigned to the program, try to enlist one of the CERT graduates to help you. CERT graduates are doing much more than response. In many communities, graduates are coordinating newsletter development, coordinating websites, maintaining equipment, and many other jobs. Why not recordkeeping?