Good morning ladies and gentlemen and thank you very much for allowing me to participate in the ARMA Canadian Region Conference in this way. I very much regret not being there in Vancouver with you this morning. I had been looking forward to taking part in your meeting and to meeting many friends and colleagues whom I know were there but as you know, many things are happening here in Ottawa. The Library and Archives have come together to form a new cultural institution just a few days ago and my presence is required here but I hope this sort of artificial, virtual, substitute, it is a copy as it were, of me, but there has been no digital enhancement, no change. This is as I am; flaws and grey hair and all. But I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you about the information management agenda and the Government of Canada and the changes that are going on because it is a very active and fluid environment at this point. Many things are happening and I hope to touch on those this morning.
First and foremost, Library and Archives have come together to form one new national cultural institution. As we do so, we find that we, and the Library and Archives and all the information disciplines share a variety of problems. I now carry the heavy title of Librarian and Archivist of Canada. I know in many private sector corporations they would have eliminated those titles long ago as being out of date, stereo-typed and in the course of my career I have found a variety of stereo-types from when I was first Archivist at Queen's University, I was introduced as being the University Archivist and someone responded "you're not old enough to be an archivist" and I would certainly like to hear that again.
Later in my career I was Archivist in Saskatchewan and one evening down south of Regina, speaking to a rapier's dinner to talk about archives and promote history and sitting beside a municipal counselor. He wouldn't talk to me. Couldn't get him to talk to me at all and he stood up and he proceeded to introduce me as the provincial anarchist. This is a little problem about our profession but I'll tell you there are advantages to being an archivist because I am also married to an archivist and as someone at our wedding some years ago observed "Marriage between two archivists? Could be an ideal marriage because as they both grow older, both be more interested in each other".
Anyway, I'll wait now for the laughter to die down because that is the entire body of humour known to the Canadian archival profession. I am now out looking for some good library jokes as well to add to this repertoire but the interesting part is it all has to do with stereo-type. It all has to do with received image and understanding of what we in various information professions do, and I think what we are embarked upon in Library and Archives Canada is a process to change the image, to change the public understanding of libraries and archives and what their potential is in a modern, information knowledge-based society. That is an area that we certainly share with the ARMA community.
I have been asked to talk about what is happening at the Government of Canada. Where we are going with the information management agenda. I think one of the key themes of this talk, that knits it all together, is really on a larger scale what we are seeing happening on a smaller scale at Library and Archives Canada and that is that the information disciplines are coming together, realizing common cause, realizing common objectives and beginning to realize that we need to come together in order to better serve our governments, our institutions and our society at large. That a knowledge society, a knowledge organization, requires the skills, the capabilities, the capacities of all the information disciplines.
There have been times over the years we have debated on relationships between librarians and archivists, and archivists and record managers, and computing science and information systems and the fact is a modern government, a modern society requires the skills, the capabilities, and the professionalism of all these disciplines in order to work today and we in turn need to learn how to best work together, how to respect what we each bring to the table, where the areas in which we're each expert, and how do we then put it together for the benefit of our society and our governments because they really needs us and this is a time when I think there is a real challenge to us.
So I'm going to talk about a bit about the Libraries and Archives and what this means. I'm going to talk about information management in the Government of Canada. I think saying some things that I expect all of you know very well about the importance of information management and managing our information asset. The challenges… But also more importantly, about what is the response because what I am seeing, having been here in Ottawa for the last five years, I'm beginning to see now some real change and some real movement in the system and I'll talk about the opportunity and I think one of our senior archivists, Bob Provick, will be there with you and will be able to respond to questions and follow-up with you in the discussions that are going to follow today and in the next few days of the meeting.
First of all, let me talk about Library and Archives Canada. It is an interesting initiative, perhaps unique in Ottawa. The two departments, themselves, decided to come together to form a new knowledge based institution, perhaps even, if we do it right, perhaps a new type of knowledge based institution to serve Canada and to serve Canadians for the 21st century. It is our decision. This was the librarian and myself sitting down, working through, right in this office, working through…either we can continue to argue, and discuss, and debate as to what's library and what's archives and our websites, library or archives, and our maps, library or archives, or we come together and put our futures together into a new institution. That's what we decided to do. The legislation came into effect two weeks ago and we are now embarked, with all staff, on an interesting journey to create this new knowledge based institution.
The mission was rather clearly given to us in our legislation. There is a strong preamble. You might want to check it but it says "…whereas it is necessary that Canada be served by an institution that is a source of enduring knowledge, accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada as a free and democratic society…" That encapsulates who we are, what we are, in a free and democratic society. And it is fascinating.
We've been working together now for a year and a half, a whole range of committees dealing with issues on terminology, on meta-data, on looking at processes cause we're out to integrate the two institutions. There won't be a separate library and a separate archive. We are integrating public services, we're integrating preservation services, we're integrating collection issues and we have a mandate now to collect documentary material relating to Canada in all media from electronic and film through traditional paper, through print, to manuscript, to maps, to stamps, to architectural drawings, to newspapers and city directories and all the print material that we have under legal deposit.
It is going to be an extraordinary institution. The resources, our collections, are impressive. We have a mandate to preserve this, to collect it systematically, to preserve it and, most importantly, one of the new parts of the legislation is the mandate to make it accessible and to work with our partners, the other libraries and archives across the country, in order to open up these collections…and make them accessible.
As well, it looks to us to develop the transformation and convergence that's going on in professions and in the technologies, but more important the convergence in terms of public expectation. Because what we said to ourselves clearly was Canadians want access to authoritative information about our society, about where we've been, where we are, where we're going and they don't care whether it comes from a library or an archive. They want access to the information and that is what we have to now respond to. Also, this process brings together expertise. There is extraordinary expertise in the staff of the two institutions and it makes this a critical mass of information professionals coming together, increasingly working together, to focus our expertise both within government and at our broad mandate of taking the collections and making them accessible and visible outside.
I think it is bringing together people who really value and know information and that clearly, in talking to the Clerk of the Privy Council, the senior public servant, that clearly is at the top of his mind. We need the information professionals together, working together, to make a difference to the way in which we manage information and frankly, the way in which we deliver our services to Canadians. It's a major process underway. We also have our broad role on information management and it is clear, it continues and it expands. The Act also goes on to talk about the institution. I described the broad mission but it's also that the institution facilitate in Canada, co-operation among the communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge and finally that the institution serve as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions. It puts us right in the middle of information management for the Government of Canada and broadly speaking, for Canada as a whole. Because it's given us a broad mandate to work in the overall information community with partners, you know there are 21,000 libraries in the country, over 800 archives. We have a mandate to work with them - a very clear and explicit mandate. It gives us some leadership role which we have already begun to assume.
Last fall we've a major national consultation on metadata, looking a Canadian metadata, standards for metadata both in government and outside. We filled our main floor of our building here last fall with another major consultation on the preservation of electronic materials. We were doing it for government and industry but we also opened it up to the public and we found we'd struck a chord because on a Sunday afternoon our main floor was filled with people asking "What do I do with digital photographs?" "What do I do with my email?" "What do I do with my financial records?" "What do I do with video tape?" "How do I maintain it?" "How do I keep it for the long term?" We had great interaction. The place was filled. This is a public issue and we were delighted to see it coming onto the agenda publicly. It's not just discussed amongst us.
It is also clear in the government that a strong information management role is essential to protect long term accessibility and integrity of information. It's needed for the long term and I guess that's our perspective. Our perspective is the long-term integrity of the official record, the memory of Canada. It has to have integrity. It has to have authenticity. And that's I think what we add to the equation in this process because we are the ones who see the long-term value. It is in our reading rooms here where issues like First Nations land claims, residential school issues for First Nations, where issues on the borders and the obligations of Canada as a country. Issues like the sovereignty of the Canadian arctic are documented in our collection. That's the value of the record. Fundamentally, it is the evidence, it is the accountability of the Government of Canada. It protects our rights in society and those records that we treat often so casually and informally are absolutely fundamental to our future as a society and to our future as a government and that's the perspective we bring and we certainly will continue to advocate for, and be very visible in terms of information management both within the Government of Canada which is a challenge in itself, but also, more broadly, with our colleagues in the other information disciplines and our colleagues in the other institutions across the country.
I need hardly tell you, you in ARMA, you're very aware of these arguments that information is a critical resource. You know the importance of the information of the record. Information is in many senses, the business of government. That's what government does - processes, gathers, analyses, makes available, interacts with information. The business of government is information. It's key for documenting our decisions, our actions, and our transactions. It's absolutely fundamental. That's basically, from my point of view as an archivist traditionally, is that archives are evidence, evidence of actions, decisions and transactions and that's why the record is so vital. It then has longer term cultural importance and importance for identity, and who we are as a nation but first and foremost it is evidence of what we do. It is fundamental for good governance and program delivery. It is fundamental to any assessment and increasingly governments are focusing on evaluation, assessment, and risk management. Without information, a good information base, this is just so much rhetoric that goes nowhere.
I am Information Co-Champion in the Government of Canada for information, with Janet Charrette, who is the Associate Deputy Minister of Health and she is eloquent on these issues around information, the role of record in enabling health to deliver on their programs and they have experienced, first hand, some of the serious problems and issues when the record is simply not available, not accessible, or has been treated in a casual way and simply can't be used. She is very effective on this and I expect many of you have developed your own cases, and your own examples, as all of us have, on what happens when the record system isn't there and when the information isn't there. What are the legal liabilities of a government or a company? What are the administrative problems?
And, the argument I often use…what is the personal accountability of us as public servants because I am finding that public servants are accountable for what they've done, how we fulfill the public trust. And in a recent discussion I had over at the Canada School for Public Service, a senior official of the government asked me what I thought about public servants who take records home and I was very concerned about this because of certain legal requirements, and ownership, and so on and I asked him why would he do it and he said frankly because he doesn't trust the record system in his department to protect him and demonstrate that he, as a public servant, fulfilled the public trust. And frankly, if, as a public service here in Ottawa or in any of the provinces, or the municipalities, or in the universities if we are not able to maintain a record system that has integrity, that has trust, that we can maintain for the long term, we have fundamentally failed as a public service. That is one of the characteristics of the public service, effective record keeping, and that goes back as a tradition of five thousand years in organized government and if we are now at the point where senior public servants will not trust the record system to demonstrate that they have fulfilled the public trust, we have an extraordinary problem - we have failed.
And I think, in terms of failure, there has been a series of reviews and audits that reveal the weaknesses of the federal record keeping system. I am sure many of the provinces and municipalities you can point to similar kinds of reports. The most recent Auditor General's report, back in February, talked about federal sponsorship program, issues about what happened to the money. Partly, and very seriously, that was an information management issue because certain people working in that area decided not to keep records. Deliberately decided not to keep records.
A few years ago we had the HRDC issues around what happened to grants that HRDC gave out and I think the various enquiries have indicated that in that process really the public service fulfilled most of its requirements in terms of what it was supposed to do. The problem is they forgot how to keep a good record for accountability. In this transition period we live in between electronics systems and paper systems, with fax, and phones, and blackberries, and all sorts of other communication devices, the interesting thing is most of our public servants do what they're supposed to do. They fulfill the trust, they check, they monitor, they evaluate but what we have forgotten and a skill we lost, and certainly in program review many of the people who had this skill left the public service, we've forgotten how to keep the record. The record that's required for audit and evaluation and ultimately it is going to be required for other purposes as well in the long term.
Interestingly enough, the Auditor General's recent report, buried after the section on federal sponsorship, she also dealt with issues on preservation of heritage materials and looked at the information management process within the federal government. She touched on it. She had some very strong, good recommendations. She criticizes, I think. Raises questions about some of the things we've done traditionally as an archives. Urged us to do more. And we are responding, in fact responding very quickly to it.
A week or two ago Sheila Fraser gave one of the main plenary addresses at the Association of Canadian Archivists annual meeting in Montreal. I encourage you to go and look at her speech. It is on her website. It is a very powerful statement about the importance of effective record keeping in terms of audit. And right now there is no one with greater authority or integrity, right now, than the Auditor General. It is a very useful statement, I think, for all of us to use and back up our arguments about the importance of effective information management in our various organizations.
The audit, like many other reviews, point to a whole series of problems, not knowing, not creating information, not being able to rely, not using, not protecting. These are all issues, I think, all of us have seen in different places and we asked the Auditor General at the meeting whether she would agree with the Information Commissioner that we need legislation to require the creation of a record. Nobody in public service in the past ever said you have to create records. The usual issue - too many records. But in this case they're beginning to see maybe we need legislation. Her reaction was "We don't need it. The requirements are already there. It is just if certain individuals choose to ignore those requirements that is when we have a problem."
And similarly, finally the Access to Information Review Report in 2002 simply noted that we are asking public servants to manage information they create without this being clearly communicated, without adequate training and support. And that's part of the problem. That's part of the diagnostic of where we are and where the problem is.
As well you are all aware of the changing information management and technological environment. The electronic systems, which are becoming more and more complex, more and more difficult to relate to. Going far beyond simple database management and simple electronic email systems. Huge benefits. Social benefits. Huge challenges to us. The technology area, I think, has seen, from my point of view and one of the stories I use to highlight the problems of effective information management is to ask about "what's the greatest failure as a public service?" In my view, it was something we called Y2K, we solved it. We threw different governments through billions of dollars to solve the Y2K problem back a few years ago. The real question is: in a modern public service that's effectively managed, why did we allow it to happen at all? Why didn't we foresee it? There was nothing unforeseeable about the year 2000. Why didn't we manage it more effectively? That too, Y2K was an information management problem and it wasn't addressed and I'm wondering what other information management crisis do we have now implicit in the use of our current technologies, in the use of blackberries for more and more communication, in email and so on. We are facing these. We are already bringing email systems into the National Archives but this remains a huge challenge.
Fortunately, the technology and the increasingly number of services on-line is pushing…bringing towards interest in information management. We are doing very well in terms of electronic government, e-governance, the IM and the IM infrastructure that has to underlie effective government on-line and on-line programs simply is very weak. The standards. The directions. The infrastructure necessary to maintain it is still weak. And I think that is the next area that we have to work on and as I'm going to be mentioning in a minute, fortunately we are seeing change, significant change, cultural change going on in this direction.
I guess the image I have been using in this paper and in the title of the paper is from "Paper Mountain to Data Stream". It is our journey, it is a journey we are in the midst of moving along. Paper. There are still immense amounts of paper in all organizations and I think a head of a Japanese technology company recently said we're more likely to have a paperless bathroom before we have a paperless office. That's an interesting image but we may get there. I think we are still coping with a transition point between full electronic I think is where we're moving, from this combination of paper and other formats with electronic which does complicate life immensely.
A large part of it and a large part of this process has to do with culture. We can talk about technology and standards and guidelines. A little while ago we had a symposium here for deputy ministers and senior assistants to deputy ministers to talk about information management and we asked them to rate what are the factors involved in effective information management? What's it going to take to get effective IM in place? Very few said technology. Less than 5% said technology. Everybody else was up talking about organizational culture and leadership. Those are the basic requirements for an effective IM infrastructure and IM approach. It's a key point on culture and how we regard information and how we deal with it. Culture and values are shifting. Obviously in most organizations from bureaucratic objectives to user needs, from centralization to shared decision making, from risk avoidance to risk management. Though, given these problems we are having in Ottawa it is interesting, risk management is interesting, but we're increasingly being controlled and directed and more rules and regulations are coming into place.
Another piece, which does go to culture, is shifting from seeing information as being my information, to seeing it as a corporate resource that needs to be shared, that needs to be mined and used effectively across the whole of the enterprise, not just one corner of one department that might want to use it. These have to come together if we are going to solve these complex, inter-connective problems of modern society.
And this is the key culture shift. It has to do with shifting information to being a resource management process, to recognize information as a valuable asset. In the course of my career I have sometimes felt that a lot of what we were doing on records management had to do much more with waste disposal then being management of an important, vital asset. And I think the message I have been taking, repeating everywhere, is information is an asset. It must now be managed as effectively as we manage the other assets that are entrusted to us as public service managers like finance and human resources and space. Information is the other key asset. We must protect it, use it, and consider it as a vital government, corporate resource. And that is the fundamental shift.
I go to many meetings and the issue is Information Technology (IT) - IT management. It is interesting but the comparison in paper-world would be how do we manage filing cabinets and file folders. The asset isn't the IT. Oh it's fun, it's interesting and it's expensive but the real asset is the information that it contains. That's what happened with Y2K. We didn't manage information through its full life cycle. We were playing with IT but we didn't manage the information and that's what we need to avoid now as we go through continuing shifts in the technology and continually move forward.
It is fundamentally the responsibility of every public servant and certainly every manager, to manage information as being a vital program asset, not as something that is off to one side or something that somebody in a basement somewhere is going to look after it for them. It is an active daily process that every manager must take seriously and must be supported in doing. Need the supports and the training and the tools that are going to be vital to do this.
As I have said, it is very clear that there is a shift going on. The last five years I have felt at times we were out there rather lonely talking about IM and the importance of IM but what I am seeing over the last year or so are whole series of signs that indicate that this is beginning to be taken seriously by the central agencies of the Government of Canada and that we are responding. Certainly, simply library and archives coming together, the whole focus is around information knowledge and that is the key. That is one of the key strategic pieces that we have been working on with the center of government. Is get our act together, get our information people working together so that we can contribute to the broad agenda. The Chief Information Officer branch of Treasury Board is also an ally. They have key responsibilities on broad policies. We are now coordinating our work agenda with them - a very close coordination. And equally Public Works and Government Services Canada is developing a shared services area, a shared services approach with great emphasis on enterprise-wide strategies. And this is the other part of the culture shift is seeing that at the senior levels, and it is going to take awhile to work down to the junior levels, but most senior levels recognizing that silos, independent solutions are no longer appropriate, no longer valid. That what we need for a whole range of areas in technology, in services, in the service base, in our approach to delivering programs to the public. The separate independent silo-base solutions are not valid. What we need is an enterprise-wide approach. And that certainly is the issue in information management and we are now seeing, increasingly, this close cooperation across departments as we search for the right solutions that are going to serve all of us on information management.
There are five key areas and five key initiatives that we are working on and I will deal with each of these in the rest of this presentation.
One is increasing awareness about IM and responsibilities of managers.
Secondly is improving the information management capacity. Have the policies, the standards and practices in place that we need. Part of it, you know, is convincing some senior officials we can make a difference. Part of what I've seen, in government, is a sense that information management, our control of our information is so lost we can't do anything about it. It is simply the way of life now. And I think all of us know, in ARMA, that there are solutions, that we can make a difference and that a number of organizations, both private and government are making a difference on effective information management. We need to convince the people that there are solutions. They are very practical but they are going to require some investment, but they are going to have some very long-term impacts.
The third area: supporting the transition to e-information systems. That's where we're going. Nobody is trying to stop it but how do we make sure it is managed effectively?
We have a large area called the paper records legacy. There are millions of cubic feet of paper records in the Government of Canada. That represents a very significant cost centre. We need to find a way to tackle that mountain and reduce it down to something that is more appropriate.
And the final area is developing information management skills and leadership right across the system, and recognize, the skills, competencies that are require for an affective IM.
To increase awareness, the first of these initiatives, to increase awareness the two of us have been appointed Information Management Co-Champions we both site on the Treasury Board Information Management sub-committee. Some of us call us, as the sub-committee of TIMS, we are called timbits, but our role is to engage senior managers and public servants in this issue. Outlining, and I have here used some of the arguments and approach we are doing. We have developed symposia. We have run breakfast over at the Canada School for Public Service. We have done a series of awards to recognize departments in areas doing effective work in information management. And the interesting part is, for the symposia and breakfast, the armchair breakfast that we talked about information management, all of these were over-subscribed - they were all packed. There is a great deal of interest. We are not talking to ourselves. We are talking to a whole range of program managers across the system. We developed, with Treasury Board Secretariat, Information Management Day, and again four to five hundred managers in the public service come out for that every year now.
We develop, with the community, a case for action. I'd ask: "What is our best argument? How do we quantify it? How do we get through to program managers in everything else they are asked to do and they are asked to do a thousand things every week. How do we get IM on their radar? What is it that is going to make a difference?"
We looked at the risks, the costs, and the benefits of effective IM. We engaged Scott Campbell who's been with the Ontario government and the B.C. government. We engaged John MacDonald. We engaged others in trying to come together and define what is our best case. It's concise. It's convincing. It is up on our website. Take it. Use it. Adapt it, adopt it as you wish. And it does reflect very bluntly in the current state of information management in government and looking elsewhere at best practices. But that's our challenge first of all. That is where we want to begin with. That document is available and I encourage you to use it.We are moving to build information management capacity.
First of all a year ago, Treasury Board, after broad consultation, put in place a new management of government information policy. It's a key document to define requirements on information management and the principal is, very clearly, information is a valuable asset that the Government of Canada must manage as a public trust on behalf of Canadians. Pretty clear - that's what it is all about. That's the direction. It then sets out the context, it's a policy, it's a directive from Treasury Board backed up by the Library and Archives Act, around Disposal of Records, Access to Information Act, the Privacy legislation all of which provides a very modern, up-to-date legislative and policy framework, accountability for effective information management and indicates that departments and individuals across the system provides for program monitoring and evaluation. Makes the commitment to e-information saying we are moving, as a government, towards having the electronic record as the preferred record of government within the next six, seven, eight years. It is a little vague as to just when but we are making the commitment to e-government. There is an implementation plan for this new policy that has been worked on within the community and recently $6 million dollars has been allocated for projects across departments that will help implement this new information management policy. As well, Treasury has put in place the broad framework for the management of information defining the principles, activities, guidelines and resources. I would go through these in detail but they are all available on websites and I think it would be a little difficult to deal with those here this morning.
We did build and develop with the community one key tool, which is the information management capacity check. Building on capacity checks we are doing in finance and human resource capability it is asking departments to self-measure where they are in terms of range of skills and capacities in the broad information management area. Ask them to evaluate themselves on a scale of nothing in place, nothing happening, up to five, which is best national and international practice. It's a baseline document to identify where we are today and to help departments identify where they want to improve. Most departments working on it are sort of on a scale, rather than a one to five scale, they are on the zero to one scale as to where are they. But where do they want to be in each of these skills and areas. It's self-assessment, gives departments an opportunity to identify make themselves aware of their problems and it has been endorsed as an IM assessment tool for the Government of Canada. Twenty-five departments and agencies are working with it right now. Bob Provick is there. He is our main advisor on the use of this. And it's revealing and as we bring these together now we are going to be looking at so how are we going to be developing the strategy to respond. How do we develop the other parts of the capacity. This capacity check has been adapted and adopted internationally both in the Commonwealth and in the "Francophone" so it can be simplified, it can be moved forward. It is a useful tool but it simply establishes baseline and establishes an agenda for going forward.
We have also developed a records and information management lifecycle management guide again bringing together a lot of tools. These will come together very shortly on a new IM web portal where we are trying to put together all of the tools that are developed across the Government of Canada. All of these arguments, the capacity check and the case for action are coming together there.
We have also been developing a function-based records classification standard, models and appraisal methods. We have been shifting our own practice from the point of view of the archives trying to develop a function-based classification system which will assist departments with a variety of other reporting requirements they have on their program activities and architecture that they have to report to Treasury Board on in working with us. In using the common schedules that we have developed for broad administrative housekeeping records, the common functions of government. These are all coming together in a very unified way, in a very coherent way and these too, I think, are going to assist in our capacity to respond to the need to develop effective IM.
In terms of the transition to e-information we have been developing across the system and I have to admit I am very impressed with how things have come together. We have a whole series of committees now across departments in the federal government: The Information Management Champions; The Information Management Policy Committee; the IT people coming together; the Information Management Standards Board. Pieces come together because no one has the solution to IM. It has been very clear that different departments have been trying different things. So we have been working with some of them; let's pilot something here. Let's try out the idea. Is it scaleable? Will it work over in this department? Or, this department has worked out an idea can someone else try it out and work with it? It is a real community of interest that's been working here and is having an impact. I think that's what's changing. So we have developed certain standards around meta-data, certain work around the core subject thesaurus and a draft XML standard.
We've developed collectively RDIMS, the electronic records and documents management software that many departments are now adopting and using. Email guidelines - what to do with email. And, by the way, email includes blackberry. Records from blackberry are not transitory, they are not accidental, it's not a telephone conversation. It produces a record and that has to follow under email guidelines. We have developed electronic publications archives here; we've got 11,500 titles right now in the electronic publications archives. We are looking at the preservation of federal websites working with others but, incidentally, part of our new legislation enables us to sample Canadian websites that are freely accessible on the web. We need to preserve some record of the web and what's going on there and its impact on our lives. That is going to be one of our new challenges for the new institutions. We have recently developed and had adopted e-file formats for transferring electronic materials to the archives and library but also now it has become a standard for inter-operability across departments. And we have begun serious planning for the e-archival infrastructure. One of our key issues is how do we preserve electronic records that have integrity and authenticity for the very long term and that requires a suitable infrastructure. Either that, or every department and agency is going to have to invent it for themselves. We think that is another enterprise-wide solution that I think we can put in place in the near future.
There is of course the paper record legacy. Now most people don't want to talk about it. It's there; it's massive; there are millions of cubic feet of paper. Our records centres contain part of that but we know it is only part. We went into one department recently on a project with them and they said they had forty thousand cubic feet of paper records. Well, within a month or two that grew, well now they counted a hundred and forty thousand because they started looking in washrooms and closets and above the false ceiling and in this corner, and oh they had rented this garage once and they piled records there. Out of control. Cost centre. Serious costs. Nobody knows what's there. Oh people retired and they've forgotten what was in those records or is there anything of importance. We have developed some pilots with Justice, with Health Canada, with Citizenship and Immigration looking at risk management approach. It is a huge backlog if we do traditional archival approach, looking at everything and examining everything, and looking at potential values for the long term. It's going to take us forever so we are looking at how we adopt a risk management approach to assessment of the long term archival value and help the departments move, get the lifecycle moving again. In some of our departments the lifecycle hasn't moved for a decade or so, so there is a huge backlog to be dealt with. We have helped departments by developing a legacy business records tool kit. A whole series…to simplify, to demystify the process of how you deal with the records and we are also looking at consolidated storage space because I know if we can push departments to move the records through we are going to have pressures on our record centres and we are trying to identify what those pressures will be and how long we are going to require them for because we assume that it is a temporary need till we move on to electronic records solutions.
In terms of developing IM skills and leadership. This is a key area because I think most deputies tell me, "well, we simply can't find the people…at the executive level, who can manage information management effectively and at the working level." Because at some of these areas is the legacy paper; there's no technology solution. It is going to require muscle and sweat to deal with it and that requires people and people who are properly trained and frankly, with people who are properly trained they can move through this very quickly. But there have been a number of community-led human resource strategy initiatives that we are participating in with departments right across the government and this is where you really see the community coming together. Developing organizational models, developing the IM leadership competencies. What are they? Setting up the standard job descriptions and in fact, some signature positions are now available. These can be adopted and picked up by any department trying to define what they need in information management for leadership. Developing an inventory for training courses and e-learning modules. Recently put in place, the Department of Public Works Government Services, put in place an IM leadership initiative involving 25 Director level staff who have been going through a very intense process, with both very hands-on processes as well as classroom training and developing IM training and professional development. They are new skills. I think what we are finding is as the community comes together we have issues on terminology. There have been some very interesting discussions amongst librarians and archivists just trying to define just what it is we mean by the same term and that will be very useful, I think, for all of us in the information management disciplines but also how we pull together and see where the linkages are. How we each contribute our different skills and ability to a common solution.
And I think, for me, that is what I've been particularly pleased by is IM Champion for the government, seeing how these communities really are working effectively together. Territoriality silos are breaking down very quickly. We are seeing departments now talking very seriously about enterprise-wide solutions and recognizing that collectively we are facing a major information management challenge.
I think we are getting the message out there that information management is everyone's responsibility. We in the information management disciplines can help. We can provide the tools. We can provide the guidelines. We can provide the accountability structures but it's up to the departments. And I think what we said in the management of government information policy…it is very clear in there. The accountability rests with the deputy ministers with the directors and managers of the department in the program area. The accountability isn't elsewhere. The accountability is with them and they have to now manage information as effectively as they manage finance and human resources and other things and we as a community are helping to provide the tools, the training, developing the capacity and developing the encouragement, the rational and the business argument to make this happen.
But it is a great time. I think there are opportunities here. I think we are seeing this coming to place increasingly and certainly from the point of view of the Library and Archives Canada as a new institution - a new institution that has 180 years of tradition, but a new institution working within the context of the government, within the context of ARMA, of archivists, of librarians and all of our groups and associations and institutions. We are really looking forward to working together to make a real difference on information management in government and across Canada.
So, thank you all very much and again, I apologize for not being there. I had really been look forward to being in Vancouver and having some nice visits with you but work calls here and I hope I'll see you before too long.