Thursday, November 16, 2006

Did the Australian National Audit Office Recommend E-Records Training?

I had an anonymous comment from someone in a government agency on my post "How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 1 - Why?":
You say in the first paragraph, 'The ANAO recommended training in recordkeeping.' And, it seems that you have been asked to create new courses based on this recommendation. Since none of the recommendations in the Report refer to training specifically, would you be able to post a comment explaining what where the ANAO made this recommendation. The [agency name deleted] has a policy of trying to comply with all recommendations, hence our interest.
The Audit report didn't actually say Archives should provide "training", it said "further practical guidance":
22. To assist entities in meeting their recordkeeping responsibilities, the ANAO considers that Archives should, in consultation with relevant entities, set minimum recordkeeping standards and requirements and develop further practical guidance. Archives should also coordinate, and periodically publish, details of the legislation, policies, standards, and guidance that impact on entities recordkeeping responsibilities. ...

3.7 The ANAO also considers that Archives should coordinate, and periodically publish, details of the range of legislation, policies, standards, advice and guidance that impacts on the recordkeeping responsibilities of individual entities. This task would require ongoing liaison with those entities that periodically issue, in the context of their particular responsibilities, such material. The coordination of existing material may also offer opportunities to identify any duplication or overlap that warrant its rationalisation. ...

3.49 To assist entities to improve their recordkeeping guidance, the ANAO considered that Archives should supplement its existing range of guidance, with more practical guidance. Such guidance could usefully address issues relating to the handling and management of email, documents in shared folders and information in electronic systems, as well as the use of scanning in an electronic recordkeeping environment. The guidance may also assist entities to:
  • determine for a particular business activity the information that should be created and received, and then determine the information that needs to be maintained as a record of the business activity in entities’ recordkeeping systems; and
  • how the record of a business activity is best managed in the context of entities’ recordkeeping responsibilities.
But from having chaired an interdepartmental committee which previously wrote such guidance, I think few are going to read it, unless you rub their faces in it, by sitting them down and telling them about it. Thus the need for training courses.

The report did say government agencies (called entities in the report) should provide training:
5.42 To assist with the implementation of a recordkeeping framework it is important for an entity to provide appropriate training to record users. This should include a combination of formal training and awareness raising activities that alerts and reminds staff of their recordkeeping responsibilities.Recordkeeping training should address the management of both paper and electronic records, IT security awareness, and assessing and assigning appropriate security classifications to sensitive information.
But it would seem difficult and wasteful for each agency to prepare and provide its own training program on what is essentially a standardized government wide function.

The courses need not be face to face, for example senior executives might like a few slides on their Blackberry they could read during the dull bits in meetings.

As an incentive to have them complete the course, the Public Service Commission could suggest each agency publish the number of staff who had completed the course. The Audit Office could then use that information to decide which agencies to audit and in what detail, on the assumption that those agencies with untrained staff were at higher risk. This would also make it easier to prosecute senior executives when there was unlawful destruction or falsification of records in their agency.

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