Records management is a fundamental activity of public administration. When public service institutions conduct daily business and transactions, huge amounts of records are generated and received.
For the purpose of business continuity officials must have access to this information to enable them to carry out their work. Records are the crucial source of information needed because they provide a reliable, legally verifiable source of evidence of decisions and actions.
They document compliance or non-compliance with laws, rules, and procedures. Without well-managed records, government and institutions cannot justify their past performance or future goals nor can they justify parallel or duplication of services which could have been combined to reduce costs and economic depression.
Client service, quality performance of tasks, and measurable outcomes are increasingly important responsibilities, and these aspirations all depend on accessible and usable records.
Yet, in many public institutions, record keeping systems are unable to cope with the growing mass of records created and accumulated.
This is particularly true in institutions with limited financial resources for records management programs or where records managers lack training or professional development opportunities.
When records are poorly managed officials find it difficult to retrieve information needed to formulate, implement, and monitor policy and to manage key personnel and financial resources.
Such situations delay the capacity to carry out economic and administrative programs aimed at achieving efficiency, accountability, and enhanced services to citizens. When records are stored and not made accessible, it is as good as being non-existent.
This is because without records government and public institutions will not function properly because officials are forced to make decision without institutional memory.
Furthermore, without well managed records the public does not have the evidence needed to hold officials accountable or to insist on the prosecution of corruption and fraud. This shows that the effectiveness and efficiency of the public service administration across government depends upon the availability of and access to this information.
For instance, for government to manage state resources it requires the availability of well-organized policy files, budget papers and reports, accounting records, personnel records, payroll records, procurement records, fixed assets register and property registers among others. In conclusion, to enjoy the benefits of records, institutions should be encouraged to make progress in the area of records management, as it is concerned with the generation, receipt, processing, storage, retrieval, distribution, usage and retirement of records.
It encompasses a wide variety of activities and sub-disciplines such as the management of mail, correspondences, reports, forms and directives. Good records management enables quick decision making and good service delivery in all public sector institutions.
• Beauty Matongo works as the regional archivist in //Kharas Region.