Essential records are categorized into two, specific areas:
The first, are those records that are needed during an emergency or disaster recovery event. They are needed at time of or shortly after an incident. Emergency response records examples include emergency action plans (EAP), human resource call lists, delegated authority provisions, essential records inventories, emergency management personnel and contact numbers, etc.
The second type are those that are needed to bring an agency "up and running". In other words, records that support business continuity. Continuity response records include those that are necessary to support the agency's legal, financial and public responsibilities. Examples include, health and human services assistance, payroll, facility plans, accounts receivables, contracts and other legally binding documents, software source codes, access and permissions lists, etc.
The State of Montana is participating in a national program that offers interagency preparedness for essential records (IPER) The Council of State Archivists (CoSA) is leading this project to develop and deliver web and CD-based training to and for state and local governments. Montana has formed a team who will lead other agencies through a three-part curriculum, that fundamentally educates and prepares agencies. More information and curriculum course descriptions can be found on the IPER website