Integrated Records Management

In an endeavor to make records accessible to both the government and to citizens, researchers and records professionals recommend an integrated records management program. In this paper the author is going to examine the rationale for developing an integrated records management program.
An integrated records management program according to Millar[1999:20] '...recognizes that records follow a life-cycle and acknowledges the importance of caring for those records through a continuum of concept.' The Australian Standard 4390 as quoted from www.findarticles.com defines a records continuum as '...a consistent and coherent regime of management processes from the time of their creation of records...through to the preservation and use of records as archives.' This definition suggests an ideal integration for documents, records, and archives management. The continuum concept seeks to break the barrier between records managers and archivists and bring them together to work together from current records to archival stages. Thus it brings uniformity in the care of records.

An integrated records management program is there to ensure the creation and maintenance of authoritative and reliable records in an accessible, intelligible and usable form for as long as they are required to support the business and accountability requirements of an organization. For a record to be authoritative and reliable it must be '...fixed and must not be susceptible to change.' This kind of record protection can be fully achieved where an integrated records management is in place.

On the same issue of maintaining an authoritative and reliable records make me remember the story of the global political agreement GPA which was negotiated and finally signed on the 15th of September 2008.It is said prior to the signing ceremony representatives of the Zimbabwe's three political parties agreed to a document was supposed to be signed by the party principals, it is said the document was left as a soft copy in the hands of someone. After the signing ceremony some parties claimed that the original document was manipulated. Had the three party negotiators been aware of the integrated records management they should have sought to fix the GPA document as soon as the negotiations were over to avoid any unofficial manipulation.

The integrated records management program ensures efficiency and economy in the management of records through eliminating duplication effort, creating and maintaining only those records that are needed, systematizing retention and disposal, and so on. With integrated records management, policies are in place which details retention periods of records found in records offices, records centers and archives. A periodic appraisal of records ensures that offices do not continue to be crammed and jammed with obsolete records.

'Appraisals make it possible to dispose of records promptly when their continuity utility for business purposes has expired, whether that disposal is by destruction or by transfer for archival preservation. In order to balance economy with good administration it is necessary that records are neither disposed of too late or too early in their life-cycle.'

Records appraisal and disposal of obsolete ensures efficiency in retrieval of records since records offices will only retain few current records of an organization. In addition to that, the organization will limit the storage and equipment costs. Improved access to records and archives enhances sound decision making, the effective delivery of government programs and services.

The identification of archives of enduring historical and cultural value is another objective of the integrated records management program. After identification of these archives integrated records management ensures the safe transfer of such archives to an archival institution. It is the integrated records management program that promotes the arrangement of archives in accordance with archival principles so as to preserve their contextual information. Without an integrated records management these archives may be mistakenly be destroyed or they may continue to occupy office space instead of them being transferred to an archival institution.

The integrated records management seeks to promote the preservation of records and archives. Preservation is the positive protection of archival materials in which no physical or chemical treatment to the item occurs, it is the totality of process and operations involved in the protection of records against damage and deterioration. A preservation management program is the best and most cost effective way to protect records and archives. The preservation plan will assist even in the selection of good quality equipment in offices or repositories which will result in good services which will not assist the users but also minimizes the damage done to records and archives as a result of their use.

In conclusion, the integrated records management Atherton as quoted at www.findarticles.com says all stages of records are interrelated, forming a continuum in which both records managers and archivists are involved, to varying degrees in the ongoing management of recorded information. The continuum model which is all about integrated records management provides a graphical tool for framing issues about relationships between records managers and archivists, past, present, and future, and for thinking strategically about working collaboratively and building partnerships with other stakeholders.

Bibliography
[1] Artherton ?www.findarticles.com
[2]Miller L.-Management of Public Sector Records Principles 1999 ,IRMT
3 Wallace P. 'Records Management' 1980
4 Penn 'Records Management Handbook' 1978
5 Bloomfield,P. 'Records Management 8' 1983

Etiwel Mutero holds a Bsc Honours Degree in Records and Archives Management through the Zimbabwe Open University.To order a full text of this article contact Etiwel on His Mobile phone +263773614293 or email etiwelm02@gmail.com

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