05 November 2007

Need for proper records, says Chief Sec

The Star

PUTRAJAYA: The wide usage of personal computers in government offices has led to negligence on the part of civil servants in keeping proper records of their work and department transactions.

In revealing this Monday, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan said such neglect on the part of civil servants meant that it had become harder to trace official documents, particularly when the officer in charge had been transferred, was on leave or retired.

Mohd Sidek pointed out that traditionally, government record-keeping was based on conventional methods, such as in paper form, and documents were filed and given reference numbers based on the date and subject matter.

"These documents are part of a department's institutional memory and are a source for all reference, information and knowledge.

"Apart from this, a copy of any letter is also kept in a floating file and distributed to all department heads for their attention and comments. But nowadays, many government staff have either forgotten this method or do not know how to do it. This means that there are many matters of which we do not have a complete record.

"Government officers today are given their own computers and all documents or letters prepared by them are stored individually in there and not filed accordingly," he said in his speech at the launch of the National Record Management Convention here Monday.

Mohd Sidek said such neglect was worrying because if this continued to happen, a department's institutional memory would be lost and there would no longer be any source for reference on historical facts, which were important as a base for procedural matters, particularly during negotiations for contracts or agreements.

"This is the one challenge facing us. It should not be happening if we put into practice a proper system of storing and managing our records. I want to recommend that manual record-keeping be continued, enhanced and streamlined," he said, adding that a weak filing system contributed to a poor public delivery system.

Public records, added Mohd Sidek, were also essential as evidence of past events that had happened as well as the basis for implementation of future projects.

As a measure to prevent the loss of such institutional memory and enhance record-keeping, Mohd Sidek said all public offices were now required to implement the Government-wide Information Management Agenda, designed to simplify its working environment.

"The National Archives Department will be the lead agency. The department has also been tasked to come up with better management of electronic records in public offices.

"The Electronic Records Management System (ERMS) will ensure that all our records are complete, valid, reliable and trustworthy," he said, adding that this would ensure more accountability and integrity on the part of departments and agencies.

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