Conference Notes

"Public Recordkeeping as a Core Organizational Capability" (Dianne Macaskill, Archives NZ)

Dianne Macaskill is the Chief Archivist and CEO for Archives New Zealand, and she will be talking about audits under the Public Records Act (PRA) in New Zealand.

Reasons for managing information:
– so governments are held accountable from administration to administration (tells the story from one administration)
– to encourage efficient and effective business practice
– to engender citizen trust — decision making is transparent
– to meet legislative and regulatory requirements
– to show context for any record
– to understand history and heritage

All of this is much easier in the paper world. Per Jeff Rothenberg, “digital information lasts forever, or five years, whichever comes first.”

Audits in Context
The PRA 2005 sets a framework for public information management system. Framework has two parts:
– Support and advice
– monitoring

On digital continuity … from 196 agencies:
– 36% hold electronic documents that don’t have titles or metadata
– 20% have records that require computer hardware or software that aren’t available any more

The audit process:
– audits begin 2010-2011
– cover 2700 entities, including 2500 schools

The environment:
– starting digital recordkeeping from low base
– agencies are putting effort into this
– need record keeping in business systems, not just EDRMS
– improved awareness of good business reasons for doing records keeping

Challenges with auditing:
– everyone is a record keeper … can’t audit everyone
– constrained audit resources
– variable record keeping practices

Dianne talked about the approach they’ll take to auditing of records, and that it will become more like financial audits over time.
– eg, the methodology
– eg, that agencies doing poorly at record keeping won’t be audited at the start … a waste of time

Q. Is there an incentive for some agencies to catch up if they won’t be audited for 2 years?
A. Yes, it will be a bad thing if an agency isn’t selected for auditing. Will “use other tools” to encourage them, eg, reports to Parliament.

Q. What about listing the agencies on the web who will be audited.
A. Maybe, haven’t got there yet.

Q. Some agencies see PRA as an optional extra — it’s not a real Act. What will you do to “encourage” agencies to embrace PRA?
A. Two part answer … (a) reminding them it’s good business practice — and if agencies don’t think so, then argue back, and (b) Dianne sees agencies saying they are doing it (my comment … “as though a CEO would say they weren’t”

Q. Are you confident that you will get through 10 schools and 1 government department a week?
A. No … looking for better ways of auditing schools better and faster. Remember that it’s not mandatory for schools.

Q. How do you deal with resource constraints at smaller agencies?
A. No, we won’t give special passes. They still have to run a business. If they don’t have enough resources, make it work.

More on the conference: see #bs7im on Twitter

Categories: Conference Notes