Overview Records Management

Introduction

Records creation, Records preparation, Records handling, Records storage, records retention, and records destruction constitute an essential, vital and costly operating function.

Because of the belief that records management is an important operating function and can be administered efficiently and economically only if entrusted to trained and thoroughly qualified personnel with supervision starting at the top executive level, organisations are establishing records management programs.

A records management program is not self-sustained and  to realise the savings and benefits that can be derived from it, the assistance and cooperation of all personnel in an organisation are required.

What is Record Management?

Record  – This is a document (in hard and /or soft form) containing information of value for decision making.

Public record – This includes any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business, including but not limited to court records, mortgages, and deed records, prepared, owned, used or retained by a public body regardless of physical form or characteristics.

Record Management – seeks to manage and control records through the entirety of their life cycle, from their creation and distribution, through their filing and use and ultimately to their final disposition or permanent retention.

Also Record management is  the scientific control in creating, retrieving, storing and maintaining of records.

Categories of Registries

Public Sector or Private Sector organizations have categorized their registries as follows:

  1. Top Secret Registry – Have information / material if disclosed to un-authorized person can cause exceptional and serious damage / injury to an organization. The Organizational Interests of gravest concern.
  2. Secret Registry – have information / material if disclosed to un-authorized person can cause serious damage / injury to an organization. The Organizational Interests of grave concern. Example the Security.
  3. Confidential Registry – have information / material if disclosed to un-authorized person can cause extreme embarrassment or harm to the Organization.
  4. Open Registry – have information / material if disclosed to un-authorized person can cause embarrassment or harm to the Organization.

Essential Components of Record Keeping

The essential components that these record keeping requirements should address are :

  1. Record Series Title –  An agency’s files are organized into record series. A record series is defined as a group of records filed together because they have similar characteristics or because they perform functions. These records are usually arranged under a single filing system or kept together as a unit because they relate to a particular subject, result from the same activity, or have a particular form. For example, equipment maintenance/repair records perform a single function: they are operational records that reflect the allocation of resources to the routine upkeep of various equipment. These records may include various types of information relating to repairs and maintenance, including work orders, dates, cost of parts, cost of labor, etc.
  2. Description – The description of the record series identifies the record’s purpose and function with regard to the agency’s operation. The description indicates exactly how the record is used and why it was created. Additional information in the description might include the medium on which the record is recorded, routing path of duplicate copies (if any), statutory requirements for creating the record in the first place, etc. Essentially, the description should contain any piece of information that would enable someone not familiar with the record series or someone in future not present at the time the record was first created to identify the record series and the contents of the files.
  3. Inclusive Dates – When first identifying the records retained in an office, it is important to determine the relevant date ranges to which those records pertain. This is necessary in order to ascertain if records are being kept longer than required.
  4. Volume – The volume required for records storage space can be considerable. When the inclusive dates of a record series retained in an office far exceed the requirements specified by a retention schedule, an agency can realize significant savings when this volume of records is destroyed. Space-savings often is the first benefit realized through the operation of an effective records management program.
  5. Retention –  If a retention period is already approved, this retention requirement should be noted on the inventory form. If no retention period exists for the record series, note the time period that the record series is administratively active.

Records Management Questions

These are some of the questions with which records management is concerned :

  1. Where are the Organisation’s records?
  2. How long are they kept?
  3. When are they eligible for destruction?
  4. On what media are they recorded?
  5. Is the recording medium of sufficient stability to maintain the viability of the records for the duration of its retention period?
  6. What records are vital to the continued operation of the organisation?
  7. If so, are these vital records sufficiently protected?
  8. What recovery procedures are in place to help the organisation assemble its records and resume administrative operations in case of a disaster?
  9. How do you manage electronic records?
  10. Is an e-mail a record?
  11. Are any of the records in an organisation historically significant?

Importance of Records Management

In this day of rapidly advancing technology and the abundance of information that has resulted from the electronic revolution, records management has emerged as one of the key tools that can assist government agencies in both answering these questions and in dealing with the consequences of living in the information age.

Records management’s primarily concerned with efficient and effective management of information.

The guiding principle of records management is to ensure that information is available when and where it is needed, in an organized and efficient manner, and in a well maintained environment.

While the importance of records management is often underestimated by people who do not directly work in the discipline, its impact on the administrative ability of an organisation to operate is indisputable.

It is only through the operation of a well-run records management program that an organisation retains control of its corporate memory, and it is this corporate memory that allows an organisation, either public or private, to conduct business.

It is important to remember that records management is not only retention schedules and the disposition of records that have met a specific retention requirement; records management also comprises all the record-keeping requirements that allow an organisation to establish and maintain control over information flow and administrative operations.

While the importance of records management is often underestimated by people who do not directly work in the discipline, its impact on the administrative ability of an organisation to operate is indisputable.

It is only through the operation of a well-run records management program that an organisation retains control of its corporate memory, and it is this corporate memory that allows an organisation, either public or private, to conduct business.

It is important to remember that records management is not only retention schedules and the disposition of records that have met a specific retention requirement; records management also comprises all the record-keeping requirements that allow an organisation to establish and maintain control over information flow and administrative operations.

Benefits of Recors Management

The benefits of well-run records management operation are:

  1. Space savings – Space savings is the most immediately recognizable benefit of a records management program. By implementing retention schedules and systematically destroying those records that are either duplicates or have already met their retention requirements, an organization can reduce the space occupied by records up to 40%.
  2. Reduction of expenditures for filing equipment – Disposing of obsolete or duplicate records can have a great impact in reducing the need for filing cabinets, files, etc.
  3. Increased efficiency in retrieval of information – Retrieval of information is made more efficient through improved management of paper records systems and through cost-effective and efficient implementation of non paper systems, such as electronic document imaging and micro graphics. An added benefit in improving filing systems is the reduction of misfiles and lost records. A misfiled record can cost an organization as much as $120 in clerical time spent looking for the record.
  4. Compliance with legal retention requirements and the establishment of administrative, fiscal, historical retention requirements – The hallmark of a good records management program is the establishment of retention requirements based upon an analysis of legal, fiscal, operational, administrative, and historical requirements. In the absence of such requirements, many organizations either destroy records that ought to be retained or they retain everything. In either case, the organization is taking a legal risk and assuming unnecessary operating costs.
  5. Protection of vital records – Records management’s involvement in identifying vital records and in preparing a carefully designed disaster recovery plan can help an organization reduce its vulnerability. The destruction of important records can cost an organization millions of dollars. In fact, such a catastrophe could possibly threaten the organization’s ability to function, thus placing the organization’s future existence in jeopardy.
  6. Control over creation of new records – Seventy per cent of the cost of information is in records creation. Records management, forms management, and reports management can help reduce the proliferation of unnecessary reports, documents, and copies, and at the same time improve the effectiveness of those reports and documents that do need to be created.
  7. Identification of historical records – Records managers play a vital role in the identification and protection of historical records. Often they are responsible for preserving and making available these records having long-term or archival value. Records management programs should include procedures for the care of documentary heritage.
  1. Accuracy.
  2. Up-to-date.
  3. Reliability.
  4. Accessibility.
  5. Adequacy.
  6. Safety and security.
  7. Elasticity.
  8. Simplicity.
  9. Durability.
  • Alphabetical system – filing according to letters of the Alphabet e.g. A, B. C etc.
  • Numerical System – filing according to numbers e.g. 1, 2,etc.
  • Alpha-numeric – documents are filed using the combination of alphabets and numbers. Eg. A1, B3G etc.
  • Subject classification – documents are filed according to subjects e.g. History, Mathematics etc.
  • Geographical classification – documents are filed according locations on the Map.
  • Chronological System -documents are filed according the dates.
  • Unethical behaviour among records management staff

  1. Lack of confidentiality.
  2. Hiding files.
  3. Negligence of duty / laxity.
  4. Asking and receiving bribes.
  5. Destruction / distortion of information.
  6. Rudeness.
  7. Withholding information.

Conclusion

Brain Terser

Question

Which Acts of the Parliament of Kenya govern Records Management?

Answers

It is The Official Secrets Act of 1968. All Public Servants on appointment are required to sign the Declaration on a prescribed form.

The Public Archives and Documentation Service Act Chapter No. 19 of Laws of Kenya.

The Penal Code Chapter No. 63 of Laws of Kenya under Section 133 makes it an offence to destroy statutory documents which include licenses, identification cards or any record establishing status, identity, qualification, service, authorization, eligibility or entitlement made or granted under any written law.

The Public Archives and Documentation Service Act under subsection 8(2) makes it an offence to willfully destroy or otherwise dispose of any public records without written consent of the Director of Kenya National Archives.

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4 thoughts on “Overview Records Management

  1. Kagwanja, Student Kenya Government Premier Training Institute - July 31, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Congrats Mwalimu Lubale,

    You should be the one who took us through this subject of Record Management because your article has all it takes for a good records manager which is part of the secretarial Management Course mounted by Government Training Institute – Mombasa.

    Reply
  2. ivy j marima - May 19, 2015 at 11:51 am

    That’s a good and well informing document. I have learnt a lot about records. Thank you.

    Reply
  3. Kevin Tongi - June 16, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Thank you are a true testimony to”success is never achieved by the size of our brain but it is always achieved by the quality of our thoughts”.It a very informative document for Records Managers, Be blessed.

    Reply
  4. Mary Korir - June 17, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    Its a good research. However, you should also add the relevant laws that govern the legal records and the role of legal records in social, economic and political development of a country.

    Reply

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