Tips: Developing a Record Keeping System

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Hanging file folder labeled with Regulations


Communities who have been through a presidentially declared disaster cannot stress enough the importance of detailed, proper record keeping systems from the day the disaster strikes, if not before. Use these tips to setup a record keeping system in your own locality that ensures compliance with FEMA documentation requirements.

Have a well-defined system in place for the record keeping process.

  • The system should clearly identify relevant staff roles and responsibilities. Staff should know their role ahead of time so no documentation requirements are missed.

Assign one person to lead recordkeeping efforts so that a consistent paper trail is created. 

  • This person should have an accounting or budget background and have the attention to detail to check closely for compliance.
  • Be sure to have additional staff trained and on-hand for assistance, especially in larger programs.

Files should be clear and comprehensive.

  • A reviewer unfamiliar with the project should not have to go beyond the file to get the full story.

Keep hard copies and store records in “the cloud.”

  • Hard copies can get damaged, destroyed or lost. Be sure to upload documents, especially any documents required for FEMA reimbursement, into a shared cloud storage service in real-time.
  • Organize and label files clearly. Create folders for each FEMA reimbursement category, and subfolders for documentation such as contracts, invoices, cancelled checks and any other pertinent documentation.
  • Label files clearly; include vendor names, invoice numbers and any other identification to prevent wasting time searching for documents.
  • Grant access to key finance employees and city officials, such as your local finance director, city attorney, economic development director and mayor.

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