What’s in a Name?

09/08/2017

That which we call a record by any other name, would need to be retained as per the archives!!!

According to the National Archives of Australia – “Information created, sent and received as Australian Government business is a record”. This includes records created by Ministers and all government employees, consultants and contractors.

Queensland’s Energy Minister was stood down last month after a Crime and Corruption Commission investigation found a “reasonable suspicion of corrupt conduct” over his use of a personal email address for government business due to the potential destruction of public records which should have been suitably retained and archived. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-19/mark-bailey-personal-email-usage-possibly-corrupt-ccc/8724996

Of course, the world held its collective baited breath in 2016 waiting to see if Hillary Clinton would be charged with a criminal offence for using a personal email server. The subsequent investigation found that Ms Clinton had violated government policy but this did not constitute criminal conduct. Ms Clinton maintained that the majority of emails were sent to or received from government agencies so were appropriately archived in those agencies, and that other emails were provided to the State Department when requested. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31806907

So, given the angst that records management has given lately, one could be forgiven for thinking that records management would be well understood and resourced with all public records adequately protected, retained and valued as the important organisational resource that they are.

Having completed countless records management audits with OCM clients, we have found that this is not always the case. Many records management units are resourced by well qualified and dedicated staff, but need more resources to deal with records that have been retained for extended periods of time.

In some cases, records have been found to be poorly managed and stored – misfiling, crowded shelves, boxes falling apart, stashed in basements with water pipes overhead and in boxes on the floor with dead mice (EEK)! Another common issue occurred where records were not sentenced for destruction when sent to off-site archives, resulting in additional work to later review the records and destroy them.

Conversely, sometimes projects to review archives, files and records can uncover gems that reflect an organisation’s history which should be curated and preserved appropriately. One client found artifacts, old briefcases, folders, ledgers and even a saddle. Items with stories to tell that shouldn’t just be put in a box to be “tackled later”.

So, if you have been postponing your records management audit for year on year, consider putting it back into the audit plan. You will be surprised by the complexity of the requirements and the value that a seemingly simple audit can bring to your organisation. Call us if you need assistance – we have great experience with saddles, basements and dead mice!

To speak to one of OCM’s audit consultants call 1300 882 633 or email ocmadmin@ocm.net.au