Solution 3: Documentation

In an emergency response you will not always be able to follow the rules exactly as they are written in this manual.  When faced with problems, you will have to come up with creative purchasing solutions while sticking to the basic principles.

You can justify thoughtful, creative solutions to purchasing problems as long as you have good documentation and record keeping.

This means that:

    1. You explain what you plan to do and why, in writing.  (Documentation)
    2. Someone of sufficient authority has agreed, in writing, with what you plan to do, (Documentation)


    3. Others can easily find and understand the written documentation later, when you’re not around.  (Record keeping)

On the other hand, even if you do everything exactly by the book, if you can’t show that you did right, it won’t matter.   All your work will have been for nothing.  You have to be able to demonstrate through records that you and the team met the basic standards.

So, it is in the best interest of the staff, the program, and the agency that all staff take the extra 30 seconds to make a note in the file of what they did and why, file the paperwork in the right place every day, print out key emails to file in the PRF folder, and otherwise record what they are doing and stay organized as they work.

Set the expectation – by word and example – that staff will document what they are doing and keep that documentation well-organized.

In addition to being the key to your flexibility, good record keeping will be important for program operations later.  Second round TDY-ers and Regular program staff who are hired three months into past responses have spent countless hours trying to reconstruct what happened before they got there and why.  Do yourself, and the people who will come after you, a favor and keep good, well-organized purchasing files.