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Audits and Evaluations

Condition of Archival Records in Federal Institutions (CARFI)
Issues and Recommendations

3.1 Issue

Records which cease to have ongoing business value but which are deemed to have archival value are not being transferred to LAC in an expedient fashion, and are likely to be exposed to various risks over time.

3.1.1 Recommendation

LAC to determine why archival records are not being transferred to LAC and to work with GC institutions to remedy this situation.

3.1.2 Suggested Actions

  • to monitor GC institutions' adherence to the terms and conditions of specific Records Disposition Authorities including the setting of retention periods; the protection of archival records under the GC institution's care and control; and the timely transfer of archival records to LAC
  • to develop standards for managing archival records in all media over time and provide these guidelines, checklists and other tools to GC institutions to ensure that archival records are safeguarded until they can be transferred to LAC
  • to increase awareness for recordkeeping responsibilities and practices by providing recordkeeping support and training to the GC institution to ensure that archival records are filed in corporate filing systems and managed appropriately
  • to provide alternate, cost-effective, and environmentally controlled storage options to GC institutions so that costly space and areas not appropriate for records storage are not used for semi-dormant and dormant records storage
  • to increase LAC capacity to accept the transfer of records in all media into appropriate storage facilities, in particular the capacity to transfer electronic records into a trusted digital repository.

3.2 Issue

Information on the status of Records Disposition Authorities (RDA) is not readily available throughout the GC even though LAC has developed a Records Disposition Authorities Control System (RDACS). The problem is two-fold: RDACS is currently available to many but not all GC institutions under the LAC Act; and the information on RDACS does not always reflect the operational status of the RDAs.

3.2.1 Recommendation

LAC needs to ensure that all GC institutions are provided with the appropriate RDACS access and that the information provided through RDACS is reflective of the operational status of the specific RDA.

3.2.2 Suggested Actions

  • LAC needs to develop procedures to ensure that Records Disposition Authorities are revoked in a timely manner: when they are superseded by a new Authority, and when all archival records under the Authority have been transferred to LAC
  • LAC needs to review the status of RDAs on RDACS on a regular basis and make recommendations as appropriate. Portfolio archivists need to make recommendations to replace/revoke the out-dated RDAs or issue new RDAs
  • LAC needs to ensure that all GC institutions under the LAC Act are provided with the appropriate access and necessary passwords for RDACS from their headquarters and regional locations.
  • GC institutions need to inform LAC when responsibility for records that are covered under a specific RDA have been transferred to another GC institution.

3.3 Issue

Factors influencing the moderate response rate to the CARFI survey may affect future LAC attempts to survey or monitor GC institutions on recordkeeping practices and adherence to RDA Terms and Conditions.

3.3.1 Recommendation

LAC to determine why GC institutions are not responding to LAC requests for information and to devise strategies to encourage a higher participation rate.

3.3.2 Suggested Actions

  • LAC to consult with GC institutions on the timing of future surveys and consider their resource capacity constraints
  • LAC to request that participation be incorporated into the institutional business plan
  • To increase GC capacity to understand the roles and responsibilities of LAC and GC institutions with respect to recordkeeping. LAC needs to take a leadership role in instilling good recordkeeping practices in all public servants, by providing training and support.

3.4 Advisory Group Feedback

The biggest problems identified by the Advisory Group were the lack of awareness in the Government of Canada concerning archival records and the need to train personnel in good recordkeeping practices and the importance of preserving archival records which are part of all Canadians' documentary heritage. The Advisory Group is looking to LAC to take a leadership role in establishing rules and standards for preservation and recordkeeping before records are transferred to LAC. This information should be readily available to Government of Canada institutions through training and on the Web.

The Advisory Group is looking to LAC for greater consultation. In particular Advisory Group requested greater involvement in the process to revoke RDAs, and in establishing procedures for notifying LAC of changes in responsibilities for the custody and control of archival records in Government institutions.

The Advisory Group suggested that in the event LAC conducts future surveys, greater consideration be given to the demands and capacity of GC institutions to plan and carry out the work associated with completing the survey.

The Advisory Group was very interested in the survey results and hopeful that follow-up actions will take place. In particular, they recommended that all Senior Executives responsible for MGI be made aware of the CARFI survey results on the state of archival records in the Government of Canada in order to increase support and resource capacities for recordkeeping operations.

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