1.0 INTRODUCTION / BACKGROUND
The purpose of this research is to assess the challenges of records management in public institution particularly the Ministry of Finance. According to (Judith Read and Mary Lea Ginn, 2007). Records management is defined as the systematic control of all records from their creation, through the processing, distribution, storage, and retrieval, to their automate disposition. Because information is such an important resource to the organization, the records management function also includes information management. Therefore, records management is also known as records and information management.
A good record keeping system can help in decision making, planning, controlling and organizing the activities of the institution such as preparing of financial statements and year returns.
The Ministry of Finance and National Planning drives its mandate from part X of the constitution of Zambia. It is guarded by a statutory and photipolio function stipulated in the government Gazette on 183 of 23th March 2012. The Ministry is charged with Economic National Development Plan and Budgeting and Financial Management responsibilities. It is in this view that the Ministry is considered as the heart of the Nation.
As a Ministry with huge responsibilities, records are generated on a daily basis, hence good measures to care for those records should be put in place as records document business transaction, policies, activities and to support decision making and accountability.
The Ministry of Finance depends mostly on paper based records but as most governments migrate to an on-line environment, Electronic records management are providing a basis of doing business to manage state resources, save the public, determine profits and losses and to protect their own and others rights. Records are increasingly depended on technologies hence it’s important to have the objectives of assessing the strengths and weakness of the systems used to determine whether they can proved access and maintain records for easy access when requested by users.
Records management should be a responsibility of all and they should be uniform procedures and policies to assist sections and staff in handling records in a most efficient and effective way to avoid the challenges of records management in the public sector.
1.1 PROBLEM STATEMENT
Records play a vital role in the management and operations of the organisation as they document past, present and future purposes. When there is poor management of records in an organisation, the organisation is likely to face challenges such as poor policy formulation, poor delivery of service, space wasted by storing unwanted files, lack of information security, policies and procedures are not followed in handling records, members of staff hold on to files for too long as a result registry personnel spend too much time looking for those documents, and the biggest challenge is employing of untrained staff especially in government departments to work as records managers when they have less knowledge concerning records management.
Although, Ministry of Finance has put up some measures to good record keeping systems, this has proved to be inadequate hence the challenges of records management in public institution needs to be investigated.
1.2 GENERAL OBJECTIVE
To find out the challenges of records management at the Ministry of Finance.
1.3 SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES.
To identify the challenges of records management at Ministry of Finance.
To assess the causes to the challenges of records management at the Ministry of Finance.
To identify the effects to the challenges of records management at the Ministry of Finance.
To describe the nature of records at the Ministry of Finance.
To recommend measures to mitigate the challenges of records management at the Ministry of Finance.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The purpose of this research is to give some answers to the following questions.
What are the challenges of records management at the Ministry of Finance?
What are the causes of the challenges of records management at Ministry of Finance?
What are the effects of the challenges of records management at Ministry of Finance?
What is the nature of records at the Ministry of Finance?
What measures should be put in place to reduce on the challenges of records management the Ministry of Finance?
2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW
According to http;// www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/docs/foi-section-46-code of-practice.pdf defined Records management as controlling records within a comprehensive regime made up of policies, procedures systems, processes and behaviour. Together they ensure that reliable evidence of actions and decision is kept and remains available for reference and use when needed, and that the organisation benefits from effective management of one of its key assets, its records.
Handling records with care; for paper and electronic records to survive and be available for as long as they are needed, they must be properly cared for, avoid storing records near known hazards and try not to damage them. Records are an important corporate asset of your agency hence they should not be removed from official records systems for extended period of time or taken out of your agency. It is important they remain available to others, Records should not be destroyed without authority from all stakeholders.
Some kinds of records have only temporary value and can be destroyed when no longer needed. It is important to make sure you know which records are of enduring value and which are not. Record managers must know what to keep, as records are easily created, copied and destroyed, organisation must have policies in place and train their employers to control the amount of records that are created so that the challenges associated with its continued integrity, authenticity and provenance can highly be protected and preserved.
As stated in the book (problems faced in archives and records management, June 8, 2010) Public and private institutions that generate vital records on a daily basis have no basic understanding of the records life cycle and the requirements of records disposal act. They are extremely ignorant on how to manage and preserve both current, semi current and non-current stages. They are totally uninformed about the records act and for this reason it is recommended that the archival institution should engage in programs that will help to educate public officers and those in the private sector on the requirements and contents of the records act. This would help the institution have at the end, properly managed non-current records of enduring value and would also facilitate for final preservation.
Under the federal records act, agencies are to manage the creation, maintenance, use and disposition of records in order to archive adequate and proper documentation of the policies and transaction of the government and effective management of agencies operations. If records are poorly housed or managed, individuals might lose access to benefits for which there are entitled, the government could be exposed to legal liabilities, and records for historical interest could be lost forever.
(Information management, june 17, 2010) Electronic records are challenging to manage, especially as electronic information is being created in volumes that pose a significant technical challenge to the ability to organise and make it accessible, finally technology alone cannot solve the problem without commitment from agencies, electronic records keeping can be challenging to implement and requires resources for planning and implementation, including establishing a sound records management system as a basis. The causes of poor records management would cause inaccurate or incomplete data, can lead to misunderstanding and misuse of information, cover-up and statistics and misguided policy recommendations and misplaced finding, “wrote Dr Victoria Lemieux of the University of British Columbia in a recent world bank blog report. However, “poor quality data, lack of information about data provenance and data stewardship issues present common barriers, “she said.
With basic records management controls missing in many countries official government records, ‘are likely to be incomplete, difficult to locate and challenging to authenticate, “she said when the records do exist, ‘Lemieux added. (lemieum, 2016).
According to S Kenny in transformation records management, minimising risk and liability states that the causes to challenges of records management is the first production of information to the extent that is associated with storage costs or space. A typical organisation holds between 10 and 30 copies of each document, some are misplaced or even unknown, storage optimization and process efficiency have become important business objectives, infrastructure strategy encompasses many elements, duplicate management-mail filtering and archiving, backup data centre approach and data classification all play a part, that is why records managers must ensure to keep records with a maximum space available and secured.
Most organisations try to manage their records but the challenge is lack of security, vital records contain important and often confidential information. Securing that information can be a challenge-some companies keep vital documents in locked storage, accessible only to authorized personnel, policing access, maintaining access logs and assigning authority levels only adds to the cost of storing the document, once the document is signed out, there is little the organisation can do to ensure it remains confidential and is not shared on purpose or accidentally with everyone in the company or outside of it. (mackechine, 2016)
The challenge of managing vast and rapidly growing volumes of electronic records is affected by several factors: decentralization of the computing environment, the complexity of electronic records, obsolescence and aging of storage media, massive volumes of electronic records, software and hardware dependencies.
(http;//www.uk/rm/recordsregister.htm.) Part of the challenges of managing electronic records is that they are produced by a mix of information systems, which vary not only by type but by generation of technology: Each generation of technology bring in new systems and capabilities without displacing the older systems. Thus, organizations have to manage and preserve electronic records. The organisation have to manage and preserve its electronic records that are in different range or in different computer systems to ensure that its operations is not hindered.
As we are trying to assess the challenges of records in the public sector its very cardinal to know some of the effects that can result from poor management of these records.
Poor decision making are based from company records, without proper documents the organisation will result in making loses, mismanagement of resources and even corruption. Good records management can result in increased revenue correction, effective decision and can promote cooperate governance.
Business inefficiency- a lot of time is spent on looking for misplaced files or documents, when files can’t be located on time customers will stop doing business with the organisation because the business transactions are depended on good records care therefore files must be located as quick as possible to keep the organisation going.
Poor productivity-records management aids your organisation archiving better bottom-line results by reducing time wasters and costs and by improving relationships, you should see better sales and service derives performance. Poor records management may contribute when your profit fall short of expectations or revenue or and profit decline, additionally employers tend to stay focused on relationships and sales and service objectives when they use a system that easily monitors performance and opportunities. (kokemuller, 2002).
(paving way to business efficiency, 2016) Loss of control of records has consequences for all citizen especially for the poorest ,who are least able to defend themselves, relevant and accurate public records must exist if government are to preserve the rule of law and to demonstrate fair and equal, and consistent treatment of citizens, without access to information or records (either directly or through their representatives) the public does not have the evidence needed to hold officials accountable or to insist on the prosecution of corruption and fraud. Moreover, the public suffers when inadequate information system affect program delivery, indeed, public health, education, individuals, land, and judicial rights all depend upon well-kept and well managed records.
Records in their various formats must be viewed as the institution asset. They play a vital role in the management, documenting past events and serves as a basis for future reference of the organisation. It is also important to understand the nature of records that are kept in various originations and which formats are used to manage their evidential value.
For organisations to function properly and effectively, they depend on accurate and reliable records management. According to Northwest Territories (2000), an organisation creates and keeps records so that it can keep track of what its members have done and what was decided.
The business requires that records must be produced and maintained to support the essential activities of an organisation in the manner that.
– It serves as the basis through which decision are taken to ensure consistency and reliability.
-providing evidence to the organization for the daily operations.
-ensuring competitive performance.
Records should be kept to support and fully document all business, legal, fiscal, social and historical needs. (Pember, 1998).
The nature of records is to prove a cultural understanding, it is believed that records are preserved and made available to members of society for posterity and historical research, since records document organisations’ historical over time, they are the basis for writing organisational history for the benefit of new members, valuable records are therefore kept permanently for future reference,. Records if well managed have the potential of providing the most meaningful resources (information) by which employers could present themselves as honest, well-meaning and accountable.
Adequate records management enables an organisation to make good decision, delivery quality service and proved evidence of its business.it is further essential for provision of access to information.
Palmer (2000) viewed accountability as a particularly crucial governance element and refers to holding officials of the organisation responsible for their action. Without records, there cannot be accountability and no rule of law. A good record management system is essential for supporting financial management, accountability and transparency (Palmer, 2000).
Records in their values formats must be viewed as an organisations’ valuable assets. They play a vital role in the operation of the organisation and document past events and used for future reference.
Records management involves designing and directing a program for achieving efficiency in the creation, use maintenance and disposal of records. This promotes efficiency through improved access to information, unorganised or poorly managed records mean that an organisation does not have ready access to authoritative information, to support sound decision making or delivery of program and services. This factor contributes to difficulties in retrieval and use of records efficiently and therefore inability to carry out the audit process.
A well-managed records management system will enable the physical and logical control of records and prevent unauthorised access, tempering, loss, misplacement or distraction of documents. Paper records management is essential for ensuring transparency and probity in financial management. (records mnagement-proceduers manual, december 2008).
Many organisations are changing from paper based records to electronic records, this is the natural process, when more and more information and documents are created by the usage of computers-based information system, (henceforth only the term information system will be used) a record is more than just information, it is supposed to be trustworthy, reliable and authentic, able to serve as evidence, and to support accountability. The length of time for which the records needs to be preserved vary from months up to hundreds of years (Duranti, 2001; Thomason, 2001) for example, the Swedish police have implemented an information system that does not correspond to records keeping requirements, they have a police information management information system from which all records should be preserved forever, in accordance with regulation from the Swedish National Archives. However after 13 months all records are written to a flat ASCILI-file (which is a format that has qualities which are suitable for the technical aspect of preservation) the nature of records is to provide evidence about business process in all institution and private companies. (Oberg, 2006).
Currently, in (AIIM Records Management – Who is taking responsibility, 2009).
The records management responsibility is not owned by any one in an organization. The 2009 AIIM Survey on Records Management found that responsibility for records management is scattered all over the organization. It can be found in the executive suite, with Finance, with the corporate secretary, with Legal, with lines of business, and with IT. This distribution over the organization is common to both physical and electronic records. When it comes to physical and paper records, there is a definite bias towards the lines of business and/or legal carrying the responsibility. However, responsibility for electronic records leans strongly towards IT. The key to understanding this scattering of responsibility across disparate groups is the size of the organization. Many organizations, particularly smaller ones, do not have specifically-defined records management activities, as regulatory or operational requirements have not forced the organization into the creation of distinct and enforced policies. As they do not have specifically-defined records management activities, they are unlikely to have individuals specifically charged with managing records. On the other hand, larger organizations most certainly will have created identifiable records management teams and activities relating to the maintenance and preservation of information –usually as a response to either regulatory or operational concerns. Also, with the possible exception of government, these activities were always treated as an ancillary function. As such, different persons within the organization would have assumed the responsibility for these activities.
In the Presidential Memorandum (LAMONT, 2012) — Managing Government Records, issued on Nov. 28, 2011, recognizes the dramatic increase in the volume and diversity of information that government agencies must manage, and calls for effective use of technology to ease that burden. The memorandum states that “improving records management will improve performance and promote openness and accountability by better documenting agency actions and decisions.” It also cites the cost savings and increase in efficiency produced by properly managed records.
Each agency was required, within 30 days, to appoint a senior official to coordinate with the agency’s records officer, CIO and general counsel in a review of the agency’s records management program. The memorandum called for particular attention to be directed toward the management of electronic records, including e-mail and social media. The resulting report from each agency identified plans for improvement, regulations that might pose obstacles to improvement and policies that would facilitate improvement.
By March 27, 2012, a directive was to be issued by the Archivist of the United States at the National Archives and Records Administration requiring each agency to take specific steps to reform records management policies and practices. The focus of the directive is to create a more efficient government wide framework for records management, increasing open government and appropriate public access to government records, and transitioning from paper-based to electronic records.
Sometimes records are viewed in a perfunctory light—they are maintained because regulations require it. Sometimes records are seen as a resource for business purposes—to check a fact or prove a point. But the Presidential Memorandum references the larger, historical importance of government records as a means by which “future generations will understand and learn from our actions and decisions.” In this respect, the importance of maintaining records that are effectively managed cannot be overstated. Records management, a process that has all too often been an afterthought, is increasingly being understood.
3.0 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY.
3.1 RESEARCH DESIGN.
Research design allows the research to meet the purpose of the research. In this project research the researcher will use descriptive research design to come up with the solution to the problems. The researcher will use both qualitative and quantitative during the analysis of the data that will collected from the questioners that will be administered at the Ministry of Finance. The purpose of using descriptive research design, is to describe the facts of a given situation, population in the area of interest and it will be less costly in data collection and analysis by the researcher.
3.2. SOURCES OF DATA.
Both Primary and Secondary sources of data will be used in this research.
Primary data-is the first hand information gathered from respondents and this will include observations, questioners and interviews. This has been chosen because there is need to get first-hand information from the respondents.
Secondary data-this is the source of data which is already published that includes books, reports, letters, literature review and documented reports.
3.3 TARGET POPULATION.
The targeted population is employees from different registry departments all with knowledge in the Field of records management system at the Ministry of Finance.
3.4 SAMPLE SIZE.
From the total number of respondents the researcher shall pick 30 respondents 15 been females and the other fifteen shall be males.
3.5 SAMPLING METHODOLOGY.
The researcher in this case will use simple random sampling and this shall include purposive sampling methods because the purpose will be made known to the selected respondents.
3.6 RESEARCH INSTRUMENT.
The research instrument that the researcher will use include questionnaires that shall comprise of open questions and closed ended questions.
3.7 DATA ANALYSIS.
When analysing data the data collected in the field, both qualitative and quantitative data analysis will be used to enable a full understanding of the data collected.
3.8 POSSIBLE LIMITATIONS
Challenges are inevitable when carrying out a research. Some of a few expected challenges the researcher may encounter include; unwillingness to give response from the respondents, negligence by respondents to respond to questions, financial difficulties in preparing the instruments, time might always come as a limiting factor.