Records management: introduction and definitions, By. Jay Kennedy

As business operations become more complex :md the level of regulation in our society increases, so the complexity of recordkeeping requirements grows. ' Records are both received and created by organisations in the course of business. They are re tamed as evidence of ilie policies and activities of the organisations and as sources of information for day-to-day management. Over half of the people employed in modern organisations are concerned in some way with the creation, use and maintenance of records.
Most organisation;; have a range of systems for controlling their records. In thepast, developing and maintaining these systems was often seer as a low priority andwas left to relatively junior staff with little systems expertise. However, in recentyears, an increasing number of organisations are becoming aware of the importanceof ensiiring that not only are those records that are needed to support their busmessactivities and their legal obligations created in the first place, but that they are alsothen managed efficiently. They are learning, sometimes from experience or the
experience of others, that good records management practices are integral to goodrisk management.
This book takes as its framework the scenario in which an organisation has appointed a records manager or records management consultant to set up a comprehensive records management program. This approach provides a useful basis for studying the major elements of records management (see Figure 1.1). The chapters follow through the steps in setting up a program. Chapter 2 discusses the initial study that the records manager needs to undertake to establish what will be the best records management strategy for the particular organisation. Chapter 3 looks at the main factors which determine the records that organisations need to create and keep. With this essential background information, the rest of the book
then looks at (fit- types of systems and sub-programs that the organisation rm implement to manage its records and recordkeeping successfully, and the tools might use to assist in this process.
This introductory chapter is primarily concerned with defining basic record management concepts. The glossary of records management terms found at th end of the book can be referred to for definitions of further terms.
The definitions presented in th is chapter are either taken direct from Australiai Standard AS 4390-1996 or are in tune with the Standard's definitions. The Archive Authority of New South Wales Records Management Office (1994) has also issuer a pamphlet of dc-finiiion.s of records and recordkecping concepts and this has beet drawn on heavily for the material in this chapter.
Changing perceptions of the records management function
The pace of change in recent years has affected records managers along with the ?
rest of the workforce. Changes have included: I
Regulations demanding more scrupulous accounting by organisations. I
• The proliferation of the PC/LAN (client-server) office environment, electronic mail, groupware, Internet and intranets, arid the sharing of information across dispersed locations.
• A rapidly increasing emphasis in organisa:ions on electronic information processing and storage. Paper records, while still prolific, are of decreasing importance compared with electronic records (Yorke 1995). The electronic record is the master copyof the record in many business applicatiorTsT'Xs notecl irT'CliajSterSr^CommonweaUh evidence legislation now makes computer records admissible as evidence in court.
• An emphasis on business process re-engineering, multi-skilling and quality management for greater cost-effectiveness.
• The devolution of the records management function to the end user. Those who create records are also likely to both use and manage them (Barrett 1995).
It can be argued that there has also been a change in perception of the records management function. A number of factors have contributed to this:
• In general terms, the growing dependence of business on recorded information, and the explosion in the volume of that'information, has forced a reassessment of the way it is managed and the commitment made to implementing the necessary systems and controls.
• As accountability becomes a more important issue in our society, so organisations are becoming more aware of the need to be able to produce die right records at die right time as evidence of their policies and activities. Specific legislation has also had an impact. As an example, the Freedom of Information legislation has had a substantial effect on records control in government agencies in Australia. When the legislation was introduced in die 1970s and 1980s, government organisations put a lot of effort into upgrading control of their records so they would feel reasonably confident they could meet their obligations under the legislation.

The increasing trend in organisations to create, communicate and store infor­mation in electronic formal pui pressure on ihe records management and archives profession to rethink its future direction. Records managers and archivists realised that they were in danger of becoming irrelevant if they continued to concentrate so heavily on managing traditional paper-based records systems. The availability of technological tools to improve records control has already brought about a radical change to the way many records managers operate. The progressive records manager will continually monitor new technological develop­ments and work with the information technology experts to further improve the control of recorded information.
A new theoretical framework
The changing environment, and particularly the issue of electronic records, spurred a number of Australians into contributing to the development of a new theoretical framework (see, for example, McKemmish (1995), and Archives Authority of New South Wales (1995)). This framework has arisen out of collaboration with, and the study of the writings of, many academics and practitioners in archives and records management overseas and locallv. David Bearman of Archives and Museum Informatics in Pittsburgh has contributed much by stimulating discussion and ideas about the management of electronic records (see, for example, Bearman 1994).
This new theoretical framework incorporates a records continuum model of records management and archives administration which emphasises an integrated approach to managing records from the design of recordkeeping systems and the creation of records through to the preservation and use of records as archives. The disciplines of records management and archives administration are viewed as the recordkeeping profession. In other words, records managers and archivists are seen as recordkeeping specialises who work alongside each other in designing systems which ensure the capture of ihos,- records which have continuing value.

The Australian Records Management Standard AS 4390-1996
A major initiative of the records and archives industry in Australia (said to be a 'world first') is the development of Australian Standard AS 4390-1996: Records Management (Standards Australia 1996). This Standard, published in six parts (General, Responsibilities, Strategies, Control, Appraisal and Disposal, and Storage) is the result of more than two years' work by a Standards Australia technical committee (IT 21). This committee was made up of consultants and representatives from a wide range of organisations, including the professional records and archives bodies, professional bodies in related fields (e.g. the Chartered Institute of Company Secretaries in Australia), government authorities, educators, and the private sector. At the time of writing the Standard was being considered for development as an ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) standard. Industry standards are codes which set out to define strategies and benchmarks which will encourage an organisation to achieve a high level of performance. They are reviewed and modified at intervals.
Adherence to a standard can be useful in obtaining certification under the quality assurance standards series AS/NZ ISO 9000.
The Australian Standard AS 4390-1996 incorporates the theoretical framework outlined above, and can be seen to accommodate workplace changes of the 1990s. It 'provides guidance for the implementation of records management strategies, procedures and practices ..." and is 'used to measure the effectiveness of records management systems and programs' (pt. 1, p. 5). It spells out the responsibilities of organisations with respect to recordkeeping, pointing out that 'There are substantial benefits to be gained from the incorporation of records management into the strategic direction of any organisation' (pt. 1, p. 7). The Standard stresses that organisations which do not incorporate records management into their strategic directions are likely to experience accountability failures with respect to recordkeeping (pt. 1, p. 2).
An organisation may decide the extent to which it complies with every element in the Standard on the basis of its own business transactions and its assessment of risk management in relation to a given degree of compliance (pt. 4, p. 3). The authors of this text would ii'gue further that every organisation has different sets of needs and circumstances which make it impossible to prescribe one clear and unambiguous approach with respect to records management. It must be remerp^red that a dynamic profession enjoys ongoing debate al -out concepts within its discipline, and hence definitions prepared through discussion and consensus at one point in time are subject to change in the future. However, the authors believe strongly that the rurrcni Siand;ird provides available conceptual framework or a conceptual tool kil which is indispensable to all those in an organisation who are concerned with sound records management practices.
Records, documents and archives
What is a record?
The definition of record in the Australian Standard AS 4390-1996 reads:
... recorded information, in any form, including data in computer systems, created or received and maintained by an organisation or person in the transaction of business or the conduct of affairs and kept as evidence of such activity (Standards Australia 1996, pt. 1, p. 7, 4.21).
The important aspect of this definition is the reference to why records are created and why they are kept. They are created to support business activity and they are kepi, as evidence of that activity.
The Standard states that records should be compliant, adequate, complete, meaningful, comprehensive, accurate, authentic and inviolate (Standards Australia 1996, pt. 3, pp. 6-7, 5.3). These attributes of records are discussed in Chapter 5.
Records may be in any form. For example, they may be:
• Paper, microfilm or electronic
• Documents or files, maps, plans, drawings, photographs, etc.
• Data from business systems, word processed documents, spreadsheets, electronic mail messages, digital images
• Audio or video
Handwritten documents
• Loosely structured records such as correspondence or highly structured records such as forms.
Records can bo categorised in a number of different ways. Commonly recognised categories include:
• Administrative records—procedures documentation, forms and correspondence. Examples are staff manuals, rosters, logging of property maintenance jobs, travel bookings.
• Accounting records—reports, forms and related correspondence. Examples are invoices, bank account records, customer billing reports.
• Project records—correspondence, notes, product development documentation etc. related to ;> specific project.
• Case filesclient records, personnel records, insurance, contracts and lawsuit files.
Paper still represents the main medium tor recorded information. However, ere is no doubt that with the more widespread availability of computer and
•mmunications technology to office workers, and the decreasing cost of that chnology, the amount of information stored in electronic format is increasing pidly. It is also relevant to note that in Australia at the federal level and in some ites the evidence legislation has been revised to give electronic records the same idential weight as paper records.
That is a document?
he Australian Standard AS 4390-1996 defines documents as 'structured units of 'corded information, published or unpublished, in hard copy or electronic form, id managed as discrete units in information systems' (Standards Australia 1996, M, p. £ 4.12).
In the Commonwealth Evidence Act 1995 document means any 'record of (formation1, and includes:
(a) anything on which there is; or
(I)} anything on which (here ;irc marks, figures, symbols or pcrliiniiinris having a meaning for persons qualified to interpret them; or
(c) anything from which sounds, images or writings can be reproduced with or without the aid of anything else; or
(d) ;i map. plan, Hrawing or photograph (Commornvrjilth of Ausiralia !!)*)">. srrlioii 47).
Not all documents created and received by organisations are records as defined by ie Australian Standard AS 4390-1996. They do not all provide evidence of business Ctivity. Examples are background documents which are collected in relation to a usiness activity but which do not form evidence of that activity. While these ocuments are not records, they are often stored with the records as part of the Hal information available on the business activity. Other examples are directories nd trade literature. They do not represent evidence of a particular business activity ut they are essential informational tools which support business activity.
Informational documents are often encompassed within a records management rogram as an important part of the corporate memory of the organisation. In this ook informational documents are viewed as belonging to the* knowledge-base of ne organisation which assists it to achieve its goals. A university might keep files elating to job statistics or to courses offered elsewhere. A nutrition research
•rganisation may keep extensive files on food-related illnesses. Proprietary
.iformation-—information which only a few people in the organisation ma}' have
aess to (e.g. recipes, product designs, chemical formulae, laboratory techniques)—
nay be a subset of either the knowledge-base or the records of the organisation. In
practice the distinction between informational and evidential documents should not
eover-emphasised, The distinction is intended to highlight the fact diat records
Managers must give priority to documents which have evidential value, as the risk of
Iiot managing these is higher than for other informational documents.
That are archives?
Achives are 'those records which are appraised as having continuing value' Standards Australia 1996, pt. 1, p. 6, 4.5}. Records may be of continuing value for ange of reasons, including administrative, legal or historical.

In the business context, the differentiation between records and archives is useful only insofar as it acknowledges the need for special treatment for records of long-term historical value. For some organisations this may involve transferring certain records to an archives centre (e.g. a government archival agency or a university archives); for others it may involve setting up a special archival program to ensure records of historical interest are captured and preserved.
Records management and recordkeeping
What is records management?
The Australian Standard AS 4390-1996 defines records management as 'the discipline and organisational function of managing records to meet operational business needs, accountability requirements and co'rnmunity expectations' (Standards Australia 1996, pt. 1, p. 7, 4.23). It is concerned with ensuring that business activity is appropriately documented in organisations, and with designing and implementing all the associated systems, procedures and services
Why is records management impoitant?
The right information presented at the right time, to the right person and at a reasonable cost

* Organisations rely on efficient access to the right information. They need it: (1)
Organisations have legal, professional and ethical responsibilities to create certain records; they are also required to retain certain categories of records for specified periods. Records management ensures these obligations can be met.
• Organisations need to control the volume of information being created and stored. This is primarily for economic reasons, as least as far as paper records are concerned—records are expensive to store and maintain—but also for .operational efficiency: it is harder to find relevant information if it is buried in a lot of obsolete information. Records management includes developing controls for disposal of records and for the separation of active from inactive records.
What is recordkeeping?
Recordkeeping is 'making And maintaining complete, accurate and reliable evidence of business transactions in the form of recorded information' (Standards Australia ~~ 1996, pL 1, p. 7, 4.19). The Standard emphasises in a number of places that record-keeping is the collective responsibility of personnel at "various levels across an organisation. Organisations need to deiine the responsibilities of senior management and the various categories of employees who manage or perform recordkeeping processes, including business unit and functional managers, records managers, system administrators, and the individuals who create or maintain the records (Standards Australia 1996, pt. 2, p. 5-6, 5.1.3).
Recordkeeping systems
Recordkeeping systems are systems designed to capture records as evidence of busi- /ness activities, to manage those records, and to make them available when required
The Standard sees recordkeeping systems in very broad terms as including the:
• Relevant personnel (records management staff and users)
• Recordkeeping policies, procedures and practices
• Documentation presenting these policies, procedures and practices, including procedures manuals and guidelines
• Records themselves
• Specialised information and records systems used to control the records
• Software, hardware, and other equipment, and stationery (Standards Australia 1996, pt. 3, p. 9, 6.2.1).
All of these components of recordkeeping systems are discussed in this book.
The records life cycle model and the records continuum model
A popular way of viewing re ccirdIsm a n age m en t is to use a life cycle model. With this model, a record is said to have a life cycle, and that life cycle can be divided into five major phases—creation, distribution, use, maintenance and disposal. Within each of these phases there are various elements and activities. At the end of the initial life cycle, records may go through a second cycle—the archives life cycle. This is where the archivist identifies and appraises records of continuing value, acquires them, documents information about them, maintains them, and provides access to them.
The life cycle concept is seen as providing a useful basis for developing a records management program. However in recent years there has been support from records management and archives professionals for a different way of approaching records management called the records continuum model. (See Figure 1.2,)
The Australian Standard AS 3490-1996 sees the term records continuum as meaning:
... the whole extent of a record's existence. Refers lo a consistent and coherent regime of" management processes from the lime of the creation of records (and before (Trillion, in the design ofrecordkeeping systems), through to the preseivation and use of records as archives (Standards Australia 1, p. 7, 4.22).
The records continuum model focuses on the management of records as a continuous process which includes the creation of the records. It sees the need to manage records from the perspective of the activities which they document, rather than visualising it in consecutive stages, which is the emphasis of the life cycle analogy. It looks at managing records in the light of such questions as what records need to be captured to provide evidence of an acuV.y, what systems and rules are needed to ensure those records are captured and maintained, how long die records shou! J be kept to meet business and other requirements, how they should be stored, and who should have access to them.
The proponents of the records continuum model point out that while the records of an organisation are subject to certain processes during their lifespan which involve them being transferred from one state to another, these processes are based on particular arrangements developed for those records rather than on any 'natural' sequential stages which must occur in recordkeeping.
The continuum model encourages anticipation of the organisation's future need for evidential documentation as an integral part of both operational and strategic management.
By placing disposal, including the identification of records of continuing value, as the last stage in the records' life cycle, a life cycle model does riot emphasise the need to design systems which ensure the capture of those records of continuing value in the first place.
This problem has become far more critical with the increasing volume of information created and stored in electronic format. Unless the controls needed to capture evidence of business activity are incorporated in the design of an organisation's business systems, the relevant information—or elements of it—may be amended or deleted to meet current requirements. For example, in a client informa­tion system, a primary requirement may be to access current information on client names and contact details for mailing purposes; however the history information on former names and contact details will form a crucial part of the evidence of earlier transactions. A way of capturing the history information and creating links between the old and new information relating to particular clients must be built into the system.
The records continuum model is a conceptual guide for the development of ecordkeeping policies and programs. To summarise from Upward's paper (1997), he dimensions in the continuum model represent perspectives for managing locuments which must be taken into consideration by records managers and rchivists. Across the continuum records may be accessed physically (e.g. in local raper files), or virtually (through the mediation of digital technology), and located (individual, group, organisational or inter-organisational/society-wide levels. The our dimensions are explained below.
First dimension—records of business activities (as defined in the Australian Standard AS 4390-1996) are created as part of business communication processes within the organisation, e.g. through e-mail, document management software, or other software applications.
Second dimension—records which have been created or received in an organisation are Lagged wilh information (meiadataj about them, including how they link to other records.
• Third dimension—records become part of a formal system of storage and retrieval which constitutes the corporate memory of the organisation.
• Fourth dimension—certain records which are required for purposes of societal accountability (e.g. by corporate law) or other forms of collective memory become part of wider archival systems which comprise records from a range of organisations.
In contrast to the life cycle analog)', because of developments in information technology, practical operations within the dimensions may take place simultaneously (see Figure 1.2). Metadata (data about data) may be added automatically, or by human input. The metadata tagging needed for a document to serve various requirements can be included at the point of creation, or at any subsequent point (within given cost and technological constraints).
Upward supplied die following example to the audiors to illustrate the applicability of die records continuum model:
A pharmaceutical company has to register its products with a variety of interna­tional and national bodies. To do this it must manage its documents fiom the time product research begins. It has to link documents created by work groups, organise the records at a corporate level, and submit them to a variety of bodies which regulate the product registration processes in different countries. Control over recordkeeping needs to be incorporated into document creation processes from die outset. There is also a continuing need for the company and/or other organisations involved in the process to add metadata, which link together accountability documentation of all critical stages in the development, marketing and use of the product, e.g. clinical trials and product approvals.

Records management as a field of study
Records management and archives administration are both recordkeeping disciplines. They snare a distinct body of knowledge relating to recordkeeping. The barriers that have traditionally existed in Australia between the two areas are gradually breaking down as the common goals and tasks are acknowledged and the lines separating functions become more blurred. It is in the purposes and outcomes of the recordkeeping activities that the differences may emerge. This is because traditionally records managers have operated in the corporate context and view records for their role in supporting the business activities of the organisation and in protecting the organisation in case of challenge, whereas archivists have a broader collective perspective on the role of records in society; they are concerned with the cultural and social value of records as well as their business and legal value.
The blurring of the lines between the records management and archives disciplines is reflected in the trend for educational programs to bring the study of the two areas together. It is also reflected in the increasing references in the literature and at conferences to records managers and archivists as belonging to the same profession but with different specialisations.
In addition to their own distinct body of knowledge, the records management nd archives disciplines draw on the knowledge and skills of related fields, such as lanagement, information science, librarianship, legal studies, systems analysis and iformation technology, and history.
Records management may also be viewed in the context of the broader field of iformation management. One writer puts it this way:
Information managers are concerned primarily with the management and retrieval of information (including its generation, storage and disposal). The information may be the content of a record, a database, a journal, or something else. In this con text and with a business process focus, all information management professionals have a vital role:
• Records managers have a role as managers of the business ruics that surround an organisation's records (evidence of business), their generation, management and disposal
• IT professionals have a role as providers of solutions to facilitate the routine conduct of business which is enabled by technology
• Corporate librarians have a role as classifiers and retrievers of information from sources within the public ;ircna.

Knowledge management and records Management1
n contemporary organisations and their wider social environments, records nanagement forms a major part of developments described by terms such as ywfnvar^ intranft, extranet and knowledge management. The intranet movement uses he technical protocols (TCP/IP) of the Internet to provide a platform for .ommunication within organisations no matter how large or physically dispersed they nay be. Groupware is software which facilitates collaboration among members of an organisation in the development of documents and is increasingly becoming :ompatible with such intranets, Extranets—which also conform to Internet standards— JIow the selective sharing of communication between organisations and selected :lients, suppliers, or other external collaborators, for mutual benefit. Commonly ntranets/extranets also link to information resources on the wider Internet, where :hese resources are relevant to the knowledge-base in the organisation.
Knowledge management aims to create a learning organisation (Boisot 1995). It is t concept which identifies the tacit knowledge of members of an organisation as imong its most important assets. Through appropriate human resource policies md practices, it seeks to achieve a translation from tacit to explicit knowledge which :an be shared among members of the organisation (Nonaka & Horotaka 1995). iuch explicit knowledge, appropriately disseminated, stored and retrieved, can :ontribute significantly to the avoidance of risk and the realisation of opportunities jy organisations.
Databases of evidential records are likely to be among the information assets to .vhichan intranet would typically provide access. Like other categories of information Jn an intranet, such access might be restricted to defined categories of users.
However, these databases of evidential records would not necessarily constitute the whole of the content of an intranet, or even a major part of it. Intranets comprise operational and strategic communication of all kinds—much of which may never be captured in documents or organisation-level databases- Of that which is captured and organised, some would be evidential records and some would be other knowledge-base documents.
All information practitioners, including recordkeeping professionals, would today be expected to understand and contribute to the development of organisational inir.mels and knowledge management strategics. Records managers need not only 10 understand in depth their own special roles within ibis context, hut also to acquire sullinent skills ami insight, to contribute overall. The iulnmet/knowledgc manage­ment arena is a locus of rapid convergence among information roles, where nutUi-skilling and versatility are greatly valued.

The records management role
In ihe past, records management was most commonly perceived as maintaining a registry of policy and correspondence files. The emphasis was on centralised 1 so that anyone in the organisation could gain access to files when needed, ai ivi me could find oat what files existed, and duplication could be avoided. There could he several physical locations for the files but the system was still based on centralised 11 mil ul of the tiles. Business unit files remained the domain of the business units which t iL-atetl them. And the management of electronic records was the domain of the »ouuniier staff. This is still the situation in many organisations but the last decade has seen a gradual change in thinking within the records management profession on the mlr ot records management within organisations. \Vhile centralised physical control i»i vuiie categories of records may still be seen as important, it is now generally ,u knowledged that records management should be concerned .vith the management nt lecurded information across the organisation, regardless of format (paper, imi uilonn, eleiiioiiu . etc.), originator or location. And that records management is nui just concerned with managing records that have already been created, but with establishing programs and systems to ensure that the information necessary to record the business activities of an organisation is effectively captured in the first place.
Records managers must be pro-active in working with other information professionals in their organisations, as well as the managers responsible for the different business lumiiom, to achieve the following:
• Define the recordkeeping needs relating to the business activities of the business units—define records should be created and how long they should be kept
• Develop business rules and standards to support the creation and capture of complete and accurate records
• Develop systems and controls to ensure the capture of complete and accurate records
• Develop systems and services which will provide efficient and appropriate access to records
• Set up processes to iponitor compliance with external and internal recordkeeping requirements
• Ensure the organisation is appropriately prepared for audits of records by external bodies, such as the Australian Taxation Office and the Australian
Records managers must demonstrate to management the cost and efficiency benefits that can be achieved from good records management practices. In fact, some large organisations have made this a fundamental requirement by structuring records management so that it is provided on a 'user-pays' basis; business units must be convinced of the need for records management systems and services and be prepared to budget for them.
Records managers may also need to demonstrate to management the dangers of nor having adequate recordkeeping systems. They can readily draw, if it is useful to do so, on well-publicised cases to demonstrate the potential difficulties faced by organisations unable to produce sufficient documentation of business activity.2
Records management personnel
Depending on the size of the organisation and the size and complexity of the records management program, there may be three categories of records management personnel:
• Professional staff
• Para-professional staff
• Clerical staff.
Records managers have a major coordinating role; being responsible for the development of policy, systems and procedures and for working with the units within their organisations on their records management needs. They may have direct responsibility for all records management activities and records management staff in the organisation, or may have an advisory role, or a mixture of the two. An example of a mixed role would be where a records manager has total responsibility for certain records management functions, for example, the management of inactive records, but provides a 'user-pays' consultancy service to the business units for the development of recordkeeping systems and other records management practices relating to current records.^
The para-professional staff are responsible for the day-to-day running of records management services and activities such as co?Tespondence filing systems, electronic document management systems, secondary storage, filing equipment review and maintenance. The para-professional staff may include analysts working under the direction of the records manager in analysing records management needs and setting up systems. The clerical staff undertake tasks such as filing, retrieving, and processing records for storage.
Needless to say, in small to medium organisations, the roles will often be filled as part of the dudes of the office manager and selected clerical and secretarial staff.
In addition to records management staff, many other staff in an organisation have recordkeeping responsibilities. These responsibilities should be clearly documented in the practice manuals relevant to the particular functional areas, and where appropriate, included in job descriptions.
Figure 1.3 lists the types of responsibilities that may be attached to a records manager's position. Figures 1.4 and 1.5 present some sample advertisements and job specifications for records management positions. Ir should be borne in mind that these advertisements and job specifications represent a view of how particular organisations perceive the records management role, not necessarily how the records management profession perceives it.
• Overseeing the entire records management program
• Recruiting, supervising and training staff
• Managing budget and equipment
• Liaising with relevant personnel at all levels
• Developing and documenting recordkeeping and records management procedures Systems
• Developing, maintaining and reviewing systems
• Selecting and implementing commercially available systems
• Monitoring new technology
• Advising on controls, standards and systems for electronic recordkeeping Classification and indexing
• Classifying and indexing records
• Maintaining and reviewing indexing and file numbering systems
• Maintaining and developing in-house thesauri Enquiries
• Satisfying enquiries from the user departments
• Satisfying enquiries under freedom of information legislation Records appraisal and disp^al
• Establishing recordkeeping requirements and monitoring compliance
• Establishing approved disposal schedules
• Determining records disposal action
• Implementing records storage procedures, including organising of secondary and archival storage.
ABC Company
Records Officer
[Salary and benefits]
An experienced Records Officer is required to assist with the Records Manage­
ment function of ABC Company. ..- .
The Records Management function involves itself with a variety of project and consultancy tasks, including:
• Application of workflow and imaging technologies
• Creation and implementation of document standards
• Establishment of disaster recovery plans and vital records programs
• Participation in working groups, project teams and management committees » Planning of facilities and site inspections
• Development of an electronic work management architecture
« Management of existing and proposed contracts with external suppliers of
various records management products and services.
Records Management is well supported by senior management and offers an innovative, diverse and challenging records and strategic information working
• Overseeing the entire records management program
• Recruiting, supervising and training staff
• Managing budget and equipment
• Liaising with relevant personnel at all levels
• Developing and documenting recordkeeping and records management procedures Systems
• Developing, maintaining and reviewing systems
• Selecting and implementing commercially available systems
• Monitoring new technology
• Advising on controls, standards and systems for electronic recordkeeping Classification and indexing
• Classifying and indexing records
• Maintaining and reviewing indexing and file numbering systems
• Maintaining and developing in-house thesauri Enquiries
• Satisfying enquiries from the user departments
• Satisfying enquiries under freedom of information legislation Records appraisal and disp^al
• Establishing recordkeeping requirements and monitoring compliance
• Establishing approved disposal schedules
• Determining records disposal action
• Implementing records storage procedures, including organising of secondary and archival storage.
environment for a records professional. Most work will be conducted in the ZZZ Office, but interstate travel will be required from time to time. Records Management works with various areas of ABC Company to offer an integrated records manage­ment architecture for all aspects of Company operation.
The successful applicant will have a tertiary qualification in records management or a related field and at least three years experience in the industry. Applicants who have completed a substantial part of their tertiary course will also be considered. IT skills or qualifications would also be an advantage.
Applications close [date and time] and should be forwarded to: [Position, address, phone, fax]
Further information can be obtained from [contact details] on the above telephone number.
Records Management Officer/Archivist
This newly created position reports to the Library and Information Manager. The successful applicant will be responsible for assisting to establish an integrated Records Management Program for the Company aimed at ensuring that all records are managed efficiently and that archival records are identified, preserved and protected. Specific responsibilities will include:
• The development of appropriate storage and retrieval systems
• Operation of the Company's archives and non-current records repository
• The development of a records retention and disposal schedule
• Provision of advice and training on records management procedures. Experience is essential; a professional qualification in records/archives manage­ment is desirable, also familiarity with online storage and retrieval systems.
Salary would be negotiable, depending on qualifications and experience. Further information may be obtained by contacting [name and phone details]. Suitably qualified persons should apply in writing by [date and time], to [name, address, fax].
Records Manager
The City of XYZ seeks applicants for the position of Records Manager to establish and implement a modern records management system.
The Records Manager would be required to develop and implement systems and procedures; establish a thesaurus of indexing terms; plan and commence the conversion of the existing records; develop user training procedures.
The successful applicant should have extensive experience in the establishment and operation of modern records management and information retrieval systems at both manual and automated level; have appropriate academic qualifications and a proven record in records management; be prepared to work cooperatively in transferring records management skills.
Salary would be in the range of [range specified] and normal local government conditions of employment apply.
For a job specification please ring [contact details]. Closing date for applications is [date]. Written applications should be addressed'to [name, address].

To develop and manage an organisation-wide records management programdesigned to ensure that records practices are effectively meeting the organisation's
records management needs. ; i
Duties and Responsibilities "!"
Establish procedures and direct the implementation of the records management program
• Cooperate with management to define and monitor functional recordkeeping requirements
• Establish systems and processes to enable those requirements to be met
• Monitor compliance with legislative and other recordkeeping requirements
• Develop recordkeeping and records management standards and rules, including those for electronic recordkeeping
• Provide technical support and coordination of personnel resources necessary for the successful operation of the program
• Provide technical training to business unit records personnel as required to achieve desired results
• Responsible for addressing and resolving problems within the records manage­ment areas
• Responsible to the Information Technology General Manager for the records management budget and cost control and provision of advice to business units with respect to business unit records management budgets
• Provide expertise and guidance to users in cost controls associated with records storage and retrieval
• Provide advice on systems and procedures to meet special business unit records and document management needs
• Establish procedures for the evaluation, implementation and review of manual and automated records systems
• Design and implement effective records disposal schemes
• Advise on and implement effective strategies for storage of active records (electronic and paper)
• Manage an offsite storage program for inactive records
• Prepare periodic reports for the Information Technology General Manager with respect to the record's management operations.
Qualifications and experience
Tertiary qualifications in records management are essential
• The incumbent should have at least five years records management experience, ideally in a supervisory role
• Experience in implementing and maintaining a computer-based records system is highly desirable.
City of Whitehorse Records Officer
Position objective
Assistance in the provision of an efficient records management system and mail
processing system to service the whole of Council's operations.
The Records Officer is accountable for:
• Accurate recording of file data and movement of files throughout the organisation
• Availability of files on demand
» Collection and distribution of outwards mail
» Processing of inwards mail
• Establishing files as directed
• Identifying property based data and establishment of property files.
judgement and decision making
• Needs to have sound knowledge of Council and departmental operations
• Needs to make judgement and decisions on property correspondence and data
• Needs to nominate and select correspondence for action officers when required.
Key responsibilities and duties System development
• Establish and maintain the property series files under the direction of the Records Coordinator.
File maintenance support
Assist with the sorting, opening and recording of all inwards mail
• Data entry of inwards mail; classification of same as required
• Assist with the maintenance of current file records; responsible for property files
• Circulate files to officers in accordance with established procedures
• Follow up unanswered correspondence
• Assist in file tracking and control systems
• Assist with archival culling and ordering of files
Provide assistance and information on status of files
• Operate the re-submit system.
Ceneral duties
Assist with coordination of copier maintenance
• Assist with files courier services as required
• Assist with collection and processing of all outwards mail as required.
Organisational relationships
Reports to: Records Coordinator and in his/her absence, Senior Archives
and Records Officer
Internal liaisons: Ail departments and management level External liaisons: Suppliers.
Specialist skills and knowledge
• Needs records management experience
• Needs computer/PC/keyboard skills
• Broad knowledge of activities and operations of local government
• Experience with land management systems and property based records
• General understanding of Public Records Act and PRO schedules.
Management skills
• Ability to work within specified timelines to achieve set objectives.
Interpersonal skills
• Ability to liaise with staff at all levels and assist them in records and research functions professionally
• Needs to write, read and reason in English
• Needs to have good comprehension skills and be able to speed read and precis
• Essential to work in team environment to achieve a team objective.
Qualifications and experience
• Year 11 minimum
» Progress towards records management certificate
• Computer experience or formal qualifications in EDP field (certificate)
« Keyboard skills
» Physically fit, able to climb step ladders, carry reasonable weights
« Able to drive a vehicle.
Figure 1.5 Sample job specifications for Records Manager and Records Officer
Source: Reproduced with permission of KPMC, Melbourne, and City of Whitehorse, Victoria
A place for records management in the organisational structure
Most commonly, records management is placed within the business services area of the organisation. In some cases it is established as an independent unit reporting directly to the head of the business services area; in some cases it may be part of an information services unit which includes other information functions such as a library service; in other cases still it conies under the information technology umbrella and functions alongside the computer systems and services area. Whatever the vertical relationships are, it is essential that the records management staff work as a team with the staff of other units concerned with information and office systems. It is particularly important that a good working relationship is established between the computer systems manager and the records manager because the two areas need to cooperate closely in making the best use of technology to promote effective records management and recordkeeping in the organisation, and also in managing electronic records. It is also important that the records manager works jointly with the managers responsible for the various business functions of the organisation to establish the recoi dkeeping requirements related to those functions—some formal lines of communication may need to be* set up to ensure this cooperation occurs. Figures 1.6 and 1.7 present two examples of the placemen' of records management in Australian organisations.
Outsourcing of records management services
Outsourcing means to contract out services and functions, It is a strategy which enables organisations to concentrate their resources on their core business, leaving service delivery in selected areas to businesses which have proven expertise and can deliver at a cost-effective price.
Records and information management businesses in Australia are increasing in number and are marketing their products and services more aggressively than in the past. A growing number of government and private sector organisations, in turn, are investigating the benefits of outsourcing records management services. This is particularly the case with technology-based services such as document and image management but also with traditional paper-based systems and services, such as paper files management.
Whereas in the past outsourcing tended to be limited to managing resources that could be processed and/or stored away from the client's workplace, an increasing trend is for contractors to provide services on site, including the staffing of those ''services (e.g. m:iilrooin services).
Records management education
The changing role of records management professionals is reflected in the changing nature of education for records management in Australia and the sort of qualifications employers are seeking. Initially, training courses were mainly confined to the technical/TAFE (Technical and Further Education) area but over recent
-years more and more tertian- institutions ;irc offering records management courses. These van from full undergraduate and postgraduate courses in records management, often combined with archives administration, to single units within
•business, information technology, and information services/librarianship courses. Education for records management staff at the para-professional level is currently undergoing considerable change with the development of a comprehensive National Curriculum. This National Curriculum consists of a series of core modules to be taught at TAFE level. Individual institutions select from the range of modules to create a course leading to the award of certificate, advanced certificate, associate diploma or diploma.4
Records management and archives courses offered in Australia are listed in Appendix C. In addition to these courses, short courses in records management and archives are offered by the professional associations, including the Records Management Association of Australia, universities, state records and archives bodies, and consultants.
In Australia, only a small percentage of records management personnel have qualifications in records management. Many come up through the ranks starting as filing or records clerks; some come into the profession from related information areas such as Jibrarianship. Employers van- in the qualifications they seek, depend­ing on how they view the position and on their expectations. Some ask for records (management or archives qualifications, or qualifications in a related field such as |Iibrarianship; some specify information systems experience; some ask for under-(graduate qualifications, some for postgraduate qualifications; some do not specify (any qualifications at all.
The forthcoming publication of National Records and Archives Competency Standards by the Finance and Administration Industry Training Advisory Body for records management and archives personnel in Australia should provide a useful recruitment tool for organisations to help them clarify what level and type of personnel they need for particular roles.
Once published and implemented, the competency standards should have a major impact on future developments in records management education and training and certification. The standards define the skills, knowledge and standard of performance required at all levels in order to meet industry needs, and the education and training system must provide the appropriate courses to impart those skills and knowledge.
. ExCrcise
Choose any organisation (20+ staff) known to you and arrange an interview with the staff member responsible for records management within that organisation. The aim of the interview is for you to gain an overview of the records management systems and practices of the organisation.
Start with an explanation of what you mean by records management and recordkeepmg. Ask questions on the following topics:
• What are the positions of the staff with records management responsibilities? Is their records management role full-time or part-time? What are their records management duties?
• What is the role of the records management staff in assessing the recordkeeping requirements of the organisation and in designing recordkeeping systems?
• What are the main categories of records, including non-paper records, held by the organisation?
• What type of recordkeeping systems exist? How are records stored?
• Are there any procedures for separating active from semi-active and inactive records? When and how are records destroyed?
• Are records management procedures documented?
Summarise the results of your interview.
Case study 1.1
The Head Office of the Oil and Gas Mining Company in Perth, Western Australia wishes to appoint a records manager.
The company has been involved in expensive litigation on two occasions because it was unable to produce adequate evidence that it had carried out the appropriate actions in particular situations. It recognises the importance of getting its recordkeeping and records management procedures in order.
There are 450 staff in Head Office. They are all housed in the one building.
Th:re are approximately. 30 000 file folders containing information on all topics of concern to the company. There is also an increasing amount of information being stored in electronic format.
There are at least seven different file locations in the building. Secretarial staff, who are responsible to the business unit heads, are expected to maintain files for their business units in addition to their other duties. There is a central registry of policy and correspondence files run by a records clerk and three assistants. There is little formal communication between the registry'staff
and the secretarial staff and practically no communication between the registry staff and the computer staff who are responsible for maintaining control systems for electronic records.
Storage facilities for many of the records are inadequate. No files have been destroyed for the past ten years. There is no uniform language for naming files, and no common retrieval system. Each file location has its own system for file retrieval, some of which are numerical, others are alphabetical and others depend on the memories of the secretarial staff. Files are often missing or difficult to find. There is no standard charge-out system for files.
Most staff members store their electronic documents on their PC hard drives. There is a central server with a directory structure but there are no controls to ensure this server is used for storing particular categories of documents.
No automated control systems have been applied to the company's records.
On the understanding that the company is prepared to pay whatever is necessary to attract a competent records manager, prepare a job advertisement for the position.
To complete this task you may find it useful to scan the newspapers over a two to three month period for sample advertisements in records management and related information fields; there are also some sample advertisements reproduced in this chapter (see Figure 1.4). Studying these advertisements will help you to ascertain appropriate terminology and layout.
1 List some of the business activities in organisations which require a significant expenditure of time and resources on recordkeeping. What type and ievef of staff are likely to be involved in the recordkeeping?
2 Are there certain types of organisations which are particularly vulnerable to legal action if they do not keep accurate and complete records of their business activities? If so, which and why?
3 The definition of documenf in the Commonwealth Evidence Act 1995 is quite detailed. What is it trying to achieve?
4 Look up some dictionary definitions of record and compare them with the definition in the Australian Standard AS 4390-1996. Are there differences? Do they present different perspectives?
5 List some records management functions and activities which might be candidates for outsourcing. What are the advantages and disadvantages that would need to be considered by an organisation in deciding whether to outsource these functions and activities?
1 This section \va.s paraphrased from personal lecture notes supplied to the authors by Don Schauder, Monash University.
2 For some Australian examples from the 1990s see Roberts (1994).
3 See Smart (1994) fora case study of an internal records management consultancy
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Holswich, R. 1995, 'The three "Ws" of competency standards', Infarmaa Quarterly, vol. 11, no, 3, pp. 20-22.
Jose, M L. 1996, 'Implications of outsourcing record keeping and the effect on government accountability', Informaa Quarterly, vol. 12, no, 4, pp. 23.
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Southwood, G. 1995, 'Outsourcing your information resources', Records Management Journal, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 101-13.
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Upward, F. 1990, 'Records resource management', Informaa Quarterly, vol. d, nc. 1, pp. 48-52.
——1997, 'Structuring the records continuum part one: post-custodial principles and properties', Archives and Manuscripts, vol. 24, no, 2, pp. 268-85.
Wilson, V. 1995, 'Sources of expertise: education and training for tomorrow's records and information manager', Informaa Quarterly, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 7-20.
Vorke, S. 1995, 'The role of the records manager—threats and opportunities', Records Management Association of Australia, 12th National Convention, Melbourne, September 1995, RedefiningRgcards Management: Conference Papers, RMAA, Melbourne, pp. 115-32.