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Audits and Evaluations

Results-based Management and Accountability Framework

For Disposition of the Government Information of
Continuing Value
Program Activity Architecture 1.1

2.1 Context

The mandate of Library and Archives Canada is:

  • To preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations;
  • To serve as a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada as a free and democratic society;
  • To facilitate in Canada cooperation among the communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge; and
  • To serve as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.

To achieve this, LAC is constantly building a collection of materials, including various documents and records from the Government of Canada (GC). One of LAC's roles is to be the permanent repository of Government of Canada records of long term or archival value for reference by the public. LAC ensures that records are available in response to public requests and to support departmental and government-wide decision-making.

Federal departments and agencies are expected to preserve the records for a certain amount of time, and eventually transfer the records of archival value to LAC. LAC works in partnership with the Departments/Agencies to transfer the key Department/Agency records. LAC provides assistance, advice and recordkeeping tools to Departments/Agencies to help them meet their responsibilities. A number of mechanisms and tools are used or will be developed to manage records disposition, including the following:

MOUs and RDAs. Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) are signed between LAC and Departments/Agencies to carry out the departmental/agency responsibilities under the Library and Archives of Canada Act. An MOU indicates the responsibilities of the Department/Agency, including the provision of information, and providing access to records to LAC. The MOU also indicates the intent to negotiate the "Terms and Conditions Of The Transfer of Archival Records", and prepare the "Records Disposition Authorities" (RDAs). RDAs provide the Department/Agency with the written consent of the Librarian and Archivist of Canada to dispose of its records having no operational or archival value at the end of their retention period1, and identify archival records to be transferred to the LAC. They ensure that LAC will acquire the best documentary heritage from the Department/Agency. The RDAs also assist the Department/Agency in processing legacy documentation. Departments/Agencies can have many RDAs.

Recordkeeping Delegation Instrument. The Recordkeeping Delegation Instrument will ensure that the appropriate controls are applied to the decision process related to the management of Government information.

Recordkeeping Regime : The recordkeeping regime is about establishing methods for Government of Canada departments to effectively manage the information they create to aid decision-making, demonstrate what they do for Canadians and satisfy accountability requirements.

New Storage Model. LAC has developed a new storage model to provide secure, accessible, and cost-effective storage for Government of Canada records of long-term business and archival value in all media. The model will ensure that the recordkeeping process of dormant records is better controlled.

The project is continuing to develop the model further and continuing to study and present additional options for presentation to the ADM Level Taskforce on Recordkeeping. The project will begin to articulate specifications for the storage and management of GC records, this taking the form of a Request for Proposals from the private sector records storage industry.

Other tools have been developed by LAC to help Departments/Agencies manage their records. These include, but not limited to:

  • The Models for Common Administrative Functions and Business Activity Structure Classification System (BASCS) methodology.
  • The Regional Services Center, which assists clients with requirements for accessing and storing records.
  • A draft Records Management Metadata Set and Application Profile has been completed and is being functionally tested in departments.
  • A draft Executive Correspondence Metadata Set and Application Profile has also been completed and is being functionally tested in departments.
  • Risk-based disposition approach (RBA) tool to dispose of legacy information.
  • Readiness Assessment tool.
  • The Multi-Institutional Disposition Authorities (MIDAs)

LAC also provides advice and sessions, such as sessions on LAC's Guidelines on business administrative records.

Disposition of Federal Government Records: Position in PAA

LAC's responsibility for managing the disposition of the government of Canada records of continuing value is reflected in one of the three activity areas of the PAA. Among its various records management responsibilities, LAC is responsible for managing the collection of federal records of continuing value. This refers to the first activity area of the PAA. According to the Report on Plans and priorities (2007-2008), the Program Activity Architecture of LAC includes three activity areas, including:

  1. Managing the disposition of the government of Canada records of continuing value;
  2. Managing the documentary heritage of interest to Canada; and,
  3. Making the documentary heritage known and accessible for use.

The activity area is related to LAC's Corporate priority 2, which is to "increase the relevance and accessibility of LAC collections and expertise to Canadians outside Canada's Capital Region". The activity area is also related to LAC's Corporate Priority #3, which states that "LAC will focus its role in Government of Canada information management on the development of effective recordkeeping".

LAC's leadership role in the records management field is reflected in the Treasury Board Secretariat's Policy on Information management. The objective of this policy is "to achieve efficient and effective information management to support program and service delivery; foster informed decision making; facilitate accountability, transparency, and collaboration; and preserve and ensure access to information and records for the benefit of present and future generations." The policy lays out the roles and responsibilities of the federal organizations, as well as of LAC in this area.

Issues and Challenges

The long-term challenge for federal organizations and LAC is to determine which of the government records are of business value, and therefore require ongoing management to preserve them for later use when needed by government Departments/Agencies, as well as by Canadians. Information resources of business value are "those formally captured in an institution's recordkeeping repository because they are of sufficient documentary evidence and utility (or usefulness) to satisfy, enable, and support the institution's business performance requirements and legislated mandate"2. According to the same source, a declaratory process is in place within institutions that identifies and determines the point at which information resources of business value for government institution are captured, and managed within an institution's recordkeeping repository.

One of the immediate challenges is to manage and process the records for this purpose, including the process of legacy information, that is, dated records and information stored by Departments/Agencies that need to be sorted, processed and transferred to LAC, or destroyed in the case of records that have no value3. As well, According to the OAG November 2003 report, "Many departments hesitate to transfer their records; they claim that they need immediate access to meet their needs. When the federal Departments/Agencies finally transfer records to the National Archives, it is often storage needs that motivate them to do so."

The November 2003 OAG Report also indicated at the time that the RDAs had limited coverage (the Report quotes a study conducted in 2000 indicating "that records disposition authorities of 21 main federal Departments/Agencies covered a maximum of 67 percent of operational records created for non-administrative purposes"). Many RDAs were obsolete, mainly due to structural changes in government. According to the OAG, "the use of inaccurate or inappropriate authorities is a serious threat to fulfilling the National Archives' mandate. The resulting risks are incorrect identification of records of historic value, the destruction of valuable records, and the use of too many resources (time and space)." LAC is also challenged with the reception of massive amounts of information that have little historical value. Many RDAs were also not implemented properly in the sense that the terms and conditions were not met. Finally, LAC did not have specific information on the nature or condition of archival records kept on departmental premises or in the federal records centres, according to the OAG Report.

The OAG recommendations and LAC's responses are appended to this RMAF.

1 Federal Departments/Agencies may keep their records for 5 to 30 years or more.
2 LAC, Business Value Guidance - Concepts, September 2008
3 OAG report, November 2003

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