Records management is a process of ensuring that records are properly created, maintained, utilised and disposed of, to achieve efficient, transparent and accountable governance. Technology and professional users are the vehicles to achieving this desired state of records management.
NontembekoMaphasa, archivist for Eastern Cape Provincial Archives and Records Service, a unit within the Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture agrees that going digital with archiving is the only way.
Maphasa places a lot of emphasis on the efficiency that needs to happen at Registry Office level, when documents are created from scratch all the way through to the manner in which they will be stored on the system.
“A registry is an office that controls the formal channels of communication and enables an organisation to perform its functions. Registry is the link between the department it serves, the various sections within the department and the outside world,” she outlines.
According to her, in order for the registry to be effective, it must have capable personnel, proper facilities /resources, well documented procedures and consequences. The last part is especially necessitated by the fact that organisations are sometimes forced to make decisions on an ad-hoc basis, therefore there cannot be gaps in record-keeping.
“Without institutional memory and supporting information, fraud cannot be proved, audits cannot be conducted, government actions are not transparent, citizens cannot be guaranteed their rights, the collective memory of the organisation is impaired and government could lose millions of rands in litigations,” warns Maphasa.
Digital Migration is then about promoting proper management and care of public records. A governmental body keeps records to support its operations and they are a reflection of its activities, as well as to fulfil legal and other obligations.
According to Maphasa, Chapter 10 of the Constitution states that, public administration must be fair, transparent and equitable. The realisation of a transparent public administration is, to a large extent dependent on the availability of these public records in a reliable format.
Therefore record keeping in general is critical for the efficient operation of an organisation. Regrettably, the status quo is such that records management practices in most organisations have not improved, as informed by Auditor General‘s reports.
“The fulfilment of the mandates of government departments is challenged in several different ways. They are exposed to extremely costly litigation risks, which are associated with various functionalities and failures by the departments to prove (by means of records) that they have met their obligations or have acted in accordance with the appropriate policies,” she laments.
The ideal position that everyone is pushing towards is that of Departments with sound records management practices, putting them in a position to deliver transparency and due processes to any aggrieved employee