An organization receives and processes tremendous amount of information day in and day out but not all of them are records. A record is regularly linked to an organization’s official business and maintained as evidence.
Accordingly, “records” can be defined as any recorded information or data in any physical format or media created or received by an organization during its course of official business and kept as evidence of polices, decisions, procedures, functions, activities and transactions.
Records are defined as “information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business.”
WHAT IS RECORDS MANAGEMENT
Records management refers to the whole range of activities which an organization should perform to properly manage its records. The key activities include setting records management policy, assigning responsibilities, establishing and promulgating procedures and guidelines, as well as designing, implementing and administering recordkeeping systems.
In the Government, “records management” includes the planning, directing, organizing, controlling, reviewing, training and other managerial activities involved with respect to the creation, classification and indexing, distribution, handling, use, tracking, storage, retrieval, protection and disposal of records to achieve adequate and proper documentation of government policies, decisions and transactions as well as efficient and cost-effective operation of government bureau and departments.
All organizations need to identify the regulatory environment that affects their records management. The regulatory environment may comprise such elements as laws and regulations, codes of best practices, code of conduct etc. For instance, the retention period of a particular type of records before they can be destroyed may be governed by a law or a code of practice.
SIGNIFICANCE RECORDS MANAGEMENT
Records management is important because
• to support an organization to make decisions based on evidence;
• to meet operational, legal and regulatory requirements;
• to be transparent and accountable
• to enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness; and
• to maintain organization or collective memory
OBJECTIVE OF RECORDS MANAGEMENT POLICY
Good records management starts with a policy which reflects an organization’s needs.
The objective of the policy should be the creation and management of authentic, reliable, complete and usable records which are capable of supporting business functions and activities of the organization for as long as they are required.
Characteristics of a record Authenticity, reliability, integrity and usability are the characteristics of a record.
The purpose of any records management policy, practices, guidelines and procedures is to ensure that records should have these characteristics; as follows –
Authenticity - an authentic record is one that can be proven
(i) to be what it purports to be;
(ii) to have been created or sent by the person purported to have created or sent it; and
(iii) to have been created or sent at the time purported;
Reliability - a reliable record is one whose contents can be trusted as a full and accurate representation of the transactions, activities or facts to which they attest and can be depended upon in the course of subsequent transactions or activities;
Integrity - the integrity of a record refers to its being complete and unaltered; and
Usability - a usable record is one that can be located, retrieved, presented and interpreted. It should be capable of subsequent presentation as directly connected to the business activity or transaction that produced it.