Records Control Measures

Records are an important element in the efficient and effective management of an organization, such that recordkeeping and record control systems must not be looked down upon. In this paper the author is going to discuss the concept of recordkeeping and clearly explain how one would control all the records generated in any organization. Recordkeeping are all the activities involving the reception or creation of records of an individual or organization, the use and storage of that document up until its disposal. The storage of that record should help an organization achieve its mission.The author is going to discuss three basic concepts of record- keeping or records management, that is the concept of lifecycle and the continuum concept
The principle of respect des fonds means respect the creator of records. This principle is broken down into two sub concepts namely, provenance and original order. Provenance means the organization or individual that created or received and maintained and used records while they were still current. Original order means that records have to be maintained in the order which they were created, arranged and maintained by the office origin. The concept of respect des fond means that records of two separate organizations should be managed separately; they must not be combined even if the two organizations were related. Secondly records must not be rearranged but maintained in the order of the creating agency, that is, according to the classification, filing and retrieval methods established by the organization.

The second concept of record keeping is the life cycle concept. The life cycle draws an analogy between the life of a biological organism, which is born, lives and dies, and is then disposed of by destruction or by transfer to an archival institution. Effective management of records through out their life cycle is an issue paramount in the reform of any organization. Without the life-cycle concept vast quantities of inactive records will continue to clog up expensive office space, and it is virtually impossible to retrieve important administrative financial and legal information. Such a situation undermines the accountability of the state and endangers the rights of the citizen.

The record life-cycle concept goes on as follows; The document is created or received by an organization and enters what is called the current phase. Current records are used for the day to day business of an organization and kept in registries or records offices. From the current stage, the record enters the semi ? current phase. In this phase, the record is infrequently used and semi- current records are kept in records centers pending their ultimate disposal by destruction and those of continuing value are sent to the archives centre. The lifecycle concept has been used to promote a sense of order, a systematic approach, to the overall management of recorded information.

The records continuum concept which some say grew out of the life-cycle concept is according to the Australian Standard 4390 "----a consistent and coherent regime of management process from the time of the creation of records (and before, in the design of record keeping systems) through the presentation and use of records and archives. 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.
Athenhon (1985-45) says a major concern of the continuum concept as a whole must be administration efficiency. It also provides a graphical tool for farming issues about the relationships between records managers and archivists, past, present and future.

RECORDS CONTROL is also important in the management of organizational information. The aim of control is to identify and organize records produced by record keeping systems so that they can be easily accessed, stored and retrieved for appropriate use by authorized persons for as long as they are required. There primary and secondary records controls. Primary level control i.e. where records are controlled at a file and series level. Secondary records control includes records registration, classification, indexing, records trading, appraisal and disposal.

At primary level records are organized into files. A file is the basic intellectual entity that brings together records related to the same function or activity. Files are then organized into series. A series is the level of arrangement of the records of an organization or individual that brings together those relating to the same function or activity or having a common form. Secondary level records control includes registration of records. Mail recording is one example of registration. It includes the use of the incoming mail registers or giving numbers of seculars, memos and bulleting.

Classification is used to aid quick retrieval of records. It is the process of identifying and arranging records and archives in categories according to logically structured conventional methods and procedural rules represented in a classification system.

Indexing is another records control measure which helps identify records according to subject while records tracing is a means of control that records the movement of a record from one office to another, either by the transit slip or any other means.

Finally, records appraisal and disposal assist in cleaning offices of absolute records by identifying useless records and those of archival value and remove them out of offices thereby increasing accessibility of active records.

1. United Kingdom. Committee on Department Records. Report. Cmnd. 9163 London,1954
2. Roper, Building Records Appraisal Systems, IRMT 1999.
3. Surplusing, DS.Records Retention Procedures. Denver 1990
4. Arma. Developing and Operating a records Retention Programme,ARMA 198Etiwel Mutero works for the National University of Science and Technology[NUST]Bulawayo Zimbabwe.

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

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