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The Recordkeeping Initiative: Findings of Assessment Projects and the Way Forward

Prepared by Daniel J. Caron
Presented to Ian E. Wilson
Librarian and Archivist of Canada


Executive Summary

In the Fall of 2007, the ADM-level Task Force on Recordkeeping (RK), chaired by the Librarian and Archivist of Canada, concluded that the Government of Canada needs a standardized, yet customizable, regime based on emerging RK standards. It recommended that this regime focus on increasing DM accountabilities and that it should contribute to improved business performance. While the ideal should be long-term and sustainable solutions, some preliminary measures could be instituted to provide immediate relief from the paper burden faced by Departments. The institution of the components of the regime should be followed by the introduction of monitoring and evaluation.

Based on these recommendations, the Treasury Board Portfolio Advisory Committee asked Library and Archives Canada (LAC) to carry out assessment projects to more closely delineate the proposed RK regime and the outcomes that might be expected once it was introduced.

Altogether, working groups carried out 15 assessment projects with two fundamental purposes: To test the overall logic of a RK regime model and the robustness of the individual RK components that support it; and to help determine the cost, time, and effort necessary to implement required elements of the proposed model. In addition, the projects aimed to satisfy three needs: to develop a recordkeeping regime (RK); to improve RK capacity within the Government of Canada (Capacity); and to help agencies respond to the immediate problem posed by legacy records (Legacy).

This report details the summary findings of the assessment projects. It outlines potential improvements and details the recommendations of the working groups.

The Recordkeeping Regime Assessment Projects found that the current culture of document creation does not lend itself to structured management unless there is intervention. The RK Regime would offer ways to effectively manage records within the new information reality. Departments could tailor RK to their needs and according to their level of readiness with a standardized yet customizable regime. These qualities might require more effort at first, but they would offer cost savings because the models would be applicable to a variety of activities and would even be usable by other Departments. Part of existing system funds would be freed up for reinvestment.

The Capacity Assessment Projects found the traditional view of records management to be that of a technical activity conducted by file clerks and concerned primarily with the archiving of records. This view does not recognize the link to business operations in Departments. Moreover, RK skills and competencies are lacking in the public service and among key stakeholders. All of these factors contribute to a general resistance to the introduction of RK. However, the regime is readily accepted when programs see how it can be applied to their business needs and customized to any program environment.

While essential to RK implementation, functional communities also do not make a strong enough link between RK and business needs, with a tendency to focus on their traditional, well-entrenched methods. The success of these projects depended on the presence of program leads within the Department who would advocate for change. For a variety of reasons, strategic information managers were especially receptive to RK.

Legacy assessment projects took a risk-based approach to reducing paper clutter in government. They studied three existing models and methods that might help eliminate the paper mountain. Along the way, they found more records of business value than were originally expected. The projects demonstrated that significant cost savings could be achieved with the adoption of new ways of approaching storage and disposition of legacy records.

Overall, the assessment projects verified the need for a combination of a RK Regime, capacity enablers and new approaches to legacy records as pre-requisites for cultural change in individual Departments and across the federal government.

Two main conclusions emerged from this report:

(1) RK needs to be formally recognized by the GC as a distinct core resource management function, and to be treated accordingly, under the direction of an assigned Domain Lead.

(2) LAC be tasked with developing a strategy to both operationalize and communicate the results/findings to date.

The target date for the presentation of the strategy to TBPAC in the Fall of 2008.

1 Introduction

1.1 Purpose of the Report

In the Fall of 2007, the Treasury Board Portfolio Advisory Committee (TBPAC) accepted the recommendations of the ADM Task Force on Recordkeeping. At that time, the Committee asked Library and Archives Canada (LAC) to undertake a series of assessment projects that would point toward a Government of Canada RK regime. This document has been prepared by LAC in response to a request for a progress report on the initiative.

This report details the summary findings of 15 assessment projects completed during fall and winter 2007-2008, outlining the potential improvements they identified and the recommendations they contain. Specific information about these projects is found in the final reports for each assessment project in separate appendices available on the LAC website.

The report also sheds some light on the background of the overall LAC RK Initiative to date, as it was largely affected by the analytical work undertaken prior to the assessment projects. The analysis that concludes the report summarizes all work to date. It identifies general opportunities and specific next steps and recommends future directions for the LAC RK Initiative.

1.2 Background

LAC's RK Initiative has involved ongoing horizontal consultation across the Government of Canada with key Central Agencies, program Departments, and Agents of Parliament. The efficacy and substance of the proposed solutions have been advanced by the vertical participation of staff from LAC and policy and operational areas of government as well as subject matter specialists.

This broad-based, inclusive approach has been essential to the development of the proposed RK regime/model. It is therefore worthwhile to review the progress of the initiative since it was first considered almost three years ago.

In the fall of 2005, the Librarian and Archivist of Canada wrote to the Clerk of the Privy Council outlining a state of urgency that resulted from the lack of consistent RK in the Government of Canada.

One year later, this concern led to two Deputy Minister Roundtables on Recordkeeping and Information Management, co-hosted by the Librarian and Archivist of Canada and the Chief Information Officer Branch (CIOB). Acknowledging that there was a crisis in RK, participants in these Roundtables advocated a strategy utilizing an outcomes-based approach, focusing primarily on the records that were of business value. They also felt it would be necessary to examine the benefit of a formal compliance environment. To continue the momentum created by the Roundtables and to provide a strong ongoing governance framework for this work, the Deputies supported the creation of an ADM-level Task Force on Recordkeeping, to be chaired by the Librarian and Archivist of Canada.

Special attention was given to the composition of this group, as it was deemed extremely important for its work to focus on the business areas of government. To facilitate the integration of a business perspective, a number of senior program managers were invited to participate with ADMs responsible for recordkeeping under corporate functions and activities.

In addition to the governance structure, five working groups (WG) were created to carry out the foundational analysis necessary to inform the deliberations of the ADM Task Force (TF). The working groups focused on the following lines of inquiry:

  • Documentation Standards and the Creation of a Regulatory Regime
  • Capacity Building
  • Legacy Solutions
  • Electronic Records Sustainability
  • Monitoring

These working groups, co-chaired by LAC and a member from another government organization, included representation from across the Government of Canada. They held meetings between January and September 2007 and produced a final briefing report for submission to the ADM TF.

In order to provide oversight and input into the more specific investigations undertaken by the five WGs, the ADM TF met three times during 2007, in January, April, and September. The conclusions of the individual WGs, which were later validated by the ADM TF members, indicated that a successful RK regime would result in the following outcomes:

1. Ready access to the right records or evidence at the right time. This capacity would result in:

  • better decisions,
  • better business results and outcomes, and
  • better administrative and business coherence.

2. Improved productivity and increased efficiencies.

3. Reduced business risks.

4. Leveraged IT and other infrastructure investments and rationalized costs.

5. Fulfillment of accountability and stewardship requirements.

6. Rational disposal of unnecessary records.

With these benefits in mind, the ADM TF made the following recommendations:

  • There exists a strong need for a standardized, yet customizable regime based on emerging RK standards.
  • The regime should focus on increasing DM accountabilities and should contribute to improved business performance.
  • Solutions should be long-term and sustainable, but some preliminary measures should be instituted, providing immediate relief and preserving the momentum of the current initiative.
  • While essential, monitoring and evaluation should be introduced only after the components of the regime are in place.

These conclusions formed the core of a larger brief presented to the Treasury Board Portfolio Advisory Committee in the fall of 2007. The LAC presentation proposed a series of assessment projects that could develop, or test, elements of the RK regime recommended by the ADM TF. These would provide greater insight into the exact nature of the proposed regime and the outcomes that might be expected once it was introduced. The assessment projects were felt to be the most appropriate means by which LAC could comply with the recommendation of the ADM TF for preliminary measures that could provide immediate solutions.

Expressing its strong support for the work undertaken thus far, TBPAC asked LAC to move forward with its proposed assessment projects and to report back with findings in spring 2008. The current report represents the formal response of LAC and the ADM TF to this request.

1.3 Purpose of the Assessment Projects

Guided by the recommendations of the ADM TF, LAC identified and developed assessment projects that were deemed necessary to satisfy three needs:

  • the development of a RK regime,
  • the improvement of RK capacity across the GC, and
  • to help agencies respond to the immediate problem posed by legacy records.

This graphical representation identifies the record keeping assessment projects, September 2007to March 2008
Records keeping Assessment Projects Sept 07 - Mar 08

Recordkeeping Assessment Projects Sept 07 - Mar 08

Within the GC Culture and the Dept Culture, and the Business Architecture, there are four categories of assessment projects relating to Recordkeeping - Legacy Records, Capacity, Recordkeeping Regime, and Incubator projects. The projects that fall under the category of Legacy Records are: New Storage Model, Risk-Based Approach to Unmanaged Legacy Business Records. The projects under the category of Capacity fall into two sub-categories: Solutions/Tools and People. The Solutions/Tools projects are: RK Functional Requirements for IT Systems; Functions Based Analysis; Email Management; and E-disposition of Records. The People projects are: Profile of the Information Specialist and RK Course Content for Managers and Public Servants. Under the Recordkeeping Regime category is the RK Documentation Standards Guidance for Policy Function; Information Access; and HR Function, and the RK Litigation Protocol. A fourth category of Assessments Projects is the category called: Incubator Projects. Two such projects are the E-Library Readiness and Improving Access to Information Resources.

In accordance with these priorities, LAC grouped the assessment projects into three primary clusters: Recordkeeping Regime (see Section 3.1); Capacity (see Section 3.2); and Legacy (see Section 3.3).

The assessment projects had two fundamental purposes. First, to test, in an operational environment, both the overall logic of the regime model developed by the ADM TF and the robustness of the individual RK components that together support the model. In this sense, each project had both an individual and collective purpose, and was evaluated as such.

Second, the assessment projects were to help determine the cost, time, and effort necessary to implement required elements of the proposed model. Since much of what was proposed had not previously been implemented in an institutional setting, a number of significant unknown factors had to be evaluated, and it was felt that this could only be truly determined in a real operational environment.

In addition, with the observations drawn from the evaluations, it would be possible to identify the gaps and opportunities existing between the work completed to date and the outcomes associated with the broader strategic focus of the RK Initiative. These inferences are spelled out at the end of this report as recommended next steps.

2 Approach and Methodology

From the beginning it was deemed essential for the assessment projects to be managed rigorously. Therefore, like the work undertaken in the earlier phases, the ongoing management of these projects incorporated broad horizontal consultation (to maintain the overall link to the regime model and to align with broader GC requirements) and deep vertical analysis (to bring subject matter expertise to bear in a live operational environment).

Horizontal alignment was attained in two ways. First, the ongoing input of a Recordkeeping Assessment Project Advisory Committee provided strategic input into all phases of the Assessment Project process. The terms of reference for this group included the following:

  • Provide advice, guidance and direction to LAC concerning the RK Assessment projects recommended by the ADM Task Force on RK.
  • Validate the development projects and their results.
  • Contribute to the communication of the projects benefits, goals and achievements to participating agencies and to the broader GC community.
  • Promote information exchange and communication among the participants
  • Provide input into the LAC RK program of change as directed by the ADM Task Force on RK.
  • Help define the scope of future projects in order to identify further partnering opportunities and linkages.

Second, weekly meetings at LAC involving the Government Records Branch Management Team and individual project leads provided a continual review of work to date and permitted a high degree of coordination among the Directors responsible for the management of the three clusters.

Expert staff from LAC and partner agencies applied subject matter expertise to the project work, as did specialized contracted resources. Significant effort was made to work closely with business areas to align the work closely with operational needs, processes and outcomes.

Finally, each cluster held invitational meetings and workshops with GC representatives who knew the subject matter well or had close links to the issue. These meetings reviewed progress on the initiative, solicited comments and feedback, and further developed the eventual deliverable.

The methodology of each assessment project varied according to need. Some projects aimed to validate a concept. Others were designed to gather and synthesize information for consideration by advisory groups (such as the Recordkeeping Project Advisory Committee) or one of the cluster briefings.

Partner government agencies were chosen for the projects in a variety of ways. Some volunteered to help move specific elements of the regime forward with experience they had gained as members of ADM TF Working Groups. Others were offered the opportunity to participate in the assessment phase of the RK initiative because they were well known to LAC and were considered capable of testing some aspect of solutions that would be proposed.

Once initial contact was established with partner agencies, individual project charters were drawn up for each assessment project. Where necessary, memoranda of understanding (MOU) were negotiated and signed, to clarify roles and responsibilities, define specific outcomes (especially where work on the assessment project formed part of a larger intervention), or the expenditure of funds.

Funding was provided primarily by LAC with some participants contributing monies in special circumstances. More specific information on this aspect can be found in the related project charters and MOUs.

2.1 Activities

The nature of the activities varied in accordance with the type of work to be undertaken.

In some instances - as in the development of options related to the New Storage Model (outlined in 3.1.3 below) - the work focused primarily on an examination of storage models used in other public sector jurisdictions (NARA, Ontario), the possibilities offered through a P3 initiative (including the solicitation of information from the private sector through a RFI process), and on the advantages and disadvantages of a hybrid approach.

In other cases, external consultants were hired to undertake the necessary analysis on behalf of LAC and the client Department. These consultants, working closely with stakeholders, led specific projects and contributed significantly to the development of tools, templates, and procedures to be used in later phases of the initiative.

In all instances, activities were undertaken in close consultation with operational areas of government so that the resulting outcomes would meet or enhance the business needs of clients.

2.2 Impacts

There are three dimensions to the evaluation of the assessment projects:

  1. The first relates to how they provided direct insight into the various components of the proposed regime and allowed for their refinement.
  2. The second is the degree to which the work necessary to develop and implement the project will change the operational processes of the Department in question.
  3. The third reflects how the projects (whether by cluster or as a whole) will ultimately contribute to the work of individual Departments and agencies and to the GC as a whole. This evaluation considers the work of projects in light of earlier work undertaken as part of the ADM TF.

3 Findings

3.1 Recordkeeping Regime Assessment Projects

Recordkeeping Regime

A management structure and a set of socialization tools for enabling records compliance and business performance to enable efficient, responsible and accountable RK.

The Recordkeeping Regime Cluster defines and determines the elements that will be the pillars of the Regime itself:

  • Documentation standards guidance for departmental application; and
  • Protocols for the disposition of records and litigation readiness.

3.1.1 Necessity for a Recordkeeping Regime

It was found that:
The culture of creation does not lend itself to structured management unless there is intervention; and the recordkeeping regime offers ways to manage records effectively within the new information reality

Visible Outputs as a Direct Result of the Assessment Projects

  • Draft Recordkeeping Directive: This regulatory instrument identifies the requirements necessary to establish a Recordkeeping Regime and will help organizations manage information as a key business asset in line with performance, reporting and accountability requirements.
  • Draft Delegation Instrument for Recordkeeping: This regulatory instrument establishes recordkeeping roles and responsibilities and provides clear accountability and responsibility for RK in GC organizations.
  • Guidelines to Develop Documentation Standards: This methodology to guide the development of documentation standards in GC organizations helps to identify key records to support business, performance, legal and financial requirements.
  • Risk-Based Methodology and Approach to Unmanaged Legacy Business Records: This tool will provide the criteria and methodology necessary to support the rational disposal of legacy records, with commensurate cost savings to GCC organizations currently storing vast quantities of unnecessary records. LAC has tested this approach in partnership with NRCan, achieving dramatic results:
    • The appraisal cost per box was reduced from $104.76 to $25.67.
    • Review time per box went from 200 minutes to 12 minutes.
    • Using this risk-based approach LAC has disposed of 7 km of unnecessary records.
      There are large potential cost savings to be realized from government-wide implementation.

Additional savings and organizational efficiencies are anticipated from other RK assessment projects:

  • Guideline to Managing Electronic Mail Messages as Business Records: This guideline identifies best practices and requirements for developing tools and guidance on managing email messages as business records. This guideline will be issued formally in June 2008 under section 9 of the Library and Archives of Canada Act.
  • New Storage Model for Managing the Government of Canada Records of Business Value: Three options were developed in making a business case to demonstrate the considerable cost savings through the use of new approaches to the secure, accessible and cost-effective storage in appropriate environmental conditions of GC paper records that retain a business value.
  • Draft Recordkeeping Training and Learning Framework: This draft Recordkeeping and Learning Framework has been developed to ensure that recordkeeping regulatory issues are core elements of public service learning and training.
  • Information proliferation and reach - social networks, wireless technologies, instant messaging, desktops.
  • Rapid, unstructured information creation is the focus - not ongoing management or disposition.
  • Management requires structure, disposition requires risk acceptance - enabled by Regime.
  • Lack of skills and models for assessment of business value.

In large part, the RK crisis is the result of a culture of rapid information creation and the unstructured nature of work in the digital era. With a focus on the desktop and the use of "anytime anywhere" technologies, social networks and instant messaging, less emphasis is placed on the systematic management of information throughout its lifecycle. The paper mountain has grown rapidly in the digital era and will continue to grow until structures are put in place to intervene.

Public servants must expend considerable effort in the management of information, and technology alone will not ease their burden. Managing the right information requires a balanced approach of disposition, structure and human intervention. The RK Regime provides the necessary framework to address these factors. The policy documentation standard project will enable Departments to clearly establish the necessary RK rules for the entire workflow process, so that the records can be managed from creation to disposition.

RK is largely about government managing its information resources in a differentiated manner according to their business value and utility. The e-mail management assessment project revealed that many organizations automatically dispose of e-mail and other electronic documents on a regular basis simply because of their age or access levels; staff are not involved in RK beyond the creation phase. The legacy projects consistently demonstrated the need for structured approaches to legacy records, and the value of systematic records disposition based on business requirements.

At the same time, the projects demonstrated the utility to Departments of new approaches to determining the business value of records by creating documentation standards for program and internal service activities. The assessment projects also demonstrated the need for greater access to information resources to support informed decision-making on the basis of both published sources and government records, and indicated that the expertise of federal libraries could be leveraged in support of RK.

The RK Regime would not affect all information. Rather, it offers structured approaches to enable public servants to manage records of continuing business value and to dispose of other records once their operational value to government organizations has ended. Compliance with the Regime is a key concern because the level of autonomy at the desktop has increased with the information revolution. However, the RK Regime does not try to change the natural way of working with new technologies; rather, it provides a management structure for assessing the business value of records created with any technology.

The documentation standard and delegation instrument are critical for Deputies to link RK to the business of their Departments and to fuse business architecture with tools and the Regime. By making RK a work practice, the government begins to deal with the creation bubble. It allows records to be managed at the point of creation so that they are accessible throughout their lifecycle. Once decisions about disposition are codified in relation to business practices, the paper mountain can be controlled.

3.1.2 Balancing Customization with Standard Approaches

It was found that:
A standardized yet customizable regime allows departments to tailor RK to their readiness and needs; and
facilitates the emergence of more standard enterprise approaches

  • Regime meets departmental needs in a standardized yet customizable fashion.
  • Documentation standards provided in the form of guidance; delegated authorities custom per Dept.
  • Not a "1 size fits all," but repurposing and broad application feasible - leveraged by alignment of MIDAs.
  • Application to common internal services, common GC-wide functions (e.g., G&Cs).
  • Leverages IT investments in enterprise systems and desktop tools.

The assessment projects demonstrated the importance of a guidance-based approach to documentation standards, delegation authorities and tools. Such an approach would allow Departments to develop and apply standards, authorities and solutions for their unique needs. These would offer a high degree of flexibility, tailored to the level of readiness and business value assessment within a particular organization.

Departments have specified the need for customized, scalable, and flexible solutions to storage requirements in the New Storage Model project. This is because storage needs vary in size, time and complexity, and Departments need to be able to base decisions on these considerations. The Risk Based Assessment project for legacy records also demonstrated the need for risk assessment frameworks within Departments, so that they could make their own decisions for disposition or transfer of legacy records.

Departments say they need an approach that is different from the traditional "one-size-fits-all" approach that many common services offered in the past. Though Departments appreciate the value of government-wide direction and consistency, these approaches have often failed because they were not adaptable to departmental needs. The assessment projects consistently demonstrated the need for an approach that would allow Departments to spend less time on non-mandated activities, adopt common service models for other functions, and focus on areas central to their mandates.

The guidance-based approach can offer benefits to the government as whole by giving Departments the ability to broadly apply the standards and authorities to common functions such as internal services (e.g., HR) and to GC-wide functions (e.g., security, Grants and Contributions). This greatly facilitates the leveraging of enterprise approaches in addition to leveraging current IT investments in enterprise systems (e.g., RDIMS, CASS) and desktop tools. It also allows agencies with common functions to leverage and share documentation standards, thereby building capacity. The existing administrative Multi-institutional Disposition Authorities (MIDAs) correspond well to the modular approach by function, but the assessment projects demonstrated that they require renewal in the form of alignment.

3.1.3 Cost, Time and Effort

It was found that:
Efforts for start-up might be higher; but
opportunities for ongoing cost containment are offered by reusable models and reinvestment of existing system funds

A great deal of effort had to be expended in explaining the concepts of RK and its value when documentation standard assessment projects started up. However, there is much less effort required when public servants are socialized to RK as a strategic resource.

  • Projects demonstrate RK Regime has the potential to be a resource neutral initiative - reinvest current $, leverage.
  • business expertise, leverage IT and ongoing investments.
  • Concepts are new, causing high ramp up guidance time and need for business analysis skills.
  • One time cost to create/apply reusable models, but ongoing costs lessen rapidly.
  • Cost containment and reduction over time for records evidence in litigation response.
  • New Storage Model and information resources projects demonstrate cost savings through enterprise approaches.

The assessment projects suggested that, in contrast to higher levels of effort at start-up, costs would decrease in the long run and that there were opportunities for reinvestment of existing system funds at all levels of government.

The assessment projects were funded from existing LAC funds. The returns in many project areas suggested that the expenditure was good value for money invested.

The assessment projects demonstrated that documentation standards can be applied elsewhere in a Department at a lower cost than in the first phase, primarily because the knowledge and experience gained by business analysts could be applied to additional functions. Ongoing costs within a Department decrease as expertise is gained in the development of documentation standards, since results can be reused for other functions. Departmental readiness and maturity increase as the Recordkeeping Regime is applied to each function.

The assessment projects also consistently found that the success and bulk of the RK efforts, particularly in the early stages, are related to cultural change activities. The relative costs to Departments will decrease over time with increased understanding of RK concepts and culture change. Cultural change in Departments and at the enterprise program and services level should be enabled through LAC's leadership and guidance as domain lead for RK and through partnerships with related Central Authorities including TBS, PWGSC, CSPS and ORO. The assessment projects demonstrated that RK is a natural fit with business and that ease of adoption of concepts and value to business enable rapid change over a relatively short time without the need for large expenditures and formal change to existing structures. RK is easily integrated into current government business.

In addition, the results of the assessment projects demonstrate that the standards developed within a Department for a function such as HR or policy could be applied in other Departments with relative ease. As such, clustered approaches could result in rapidly diminished ongoing costs. The multiplier effect of RK change is high. Moreover, cultural change spreads within a function, across the Department, and out to other organizations.

The links between RK, DM accountability and business performance mean that there will have to be a commitment to RK from Departments and from enterprise programs and services, and that they will have to evaluate their RK needs on the basis of the new reality. The needs of Departmental and GC-wide programs and services will vary, as they are based on such factors as current culture, risk, impact, maturity, and legacy issues, and these needs will determine resourcing requirements.

The New Storage Model for business records is seen as a common service in support of GC clients. Its broad application offers significant potential for cost savings through the adoption of common standards for internal services and clustered functions, particularly as it relates to the disposition of paper documents. Although it requires a one-time investment, it can lead to long-term cost containment.

The information resources assessment project identified the inefficiency and high cost of the duplication of procurement efforts for published information resources across government. As a cost-effective solution, it identified a GC-wide licensing option for these resources. The combined purchasing results in stronger negotiating positions with content providers, leading to the best possible price and eliminating duplication of systems and resources across Departments. The RK Regime could offer the necessary structure for change.

The litigation protocol project clearly demonstrated the value of the RK Regime, with expectations of high cost savings over time for legal case response. The RK Regime facilitates litigation work by offering consistent guidance for the legal hold process and time requirements.

All in all, the assessment projects found that many opportunities already exist to meet departmental RK requirements without the injection of additional funds. In fact, concerns were expressed that additional funding may be a disincentive to changing behaviours. Departments need to commit to RK by exploring the realignment of existing funds throughout the organization - not simply within the IM function.

These opportunities will allow existing funds to be reallocated or existing projects to be transformed to include RK. As a result, RK will be a cost-neutral initiative for Departments and enterprise programs and services. For example:

  • The leadership and solutions offered by LAC through the recordkeeping regime can be leveraged.
  • Culture change will be enabled with the application of documentation standards and the delegation authority.
  • Barriers between professions will be broken with the expansion of RK beyond the traditional IM function.
  • Current training programs can be retooled to include RK as part of core skills and competencies.
  • Existing PAA-related projects, workflow analysis, regulatory and IT initiatives can be expanded to encompass RK.
  • Costs can be controlled thanks to new storage models, information services acquisition and the like.

However, should Departments or enterprise programs and services require additional funding for RK changes, this funding might be obtained through the Strategic Review process.

The assessment projects found that the funding requirements for the Recordkeeping Regime are related to start-up transitional funding for the development of horizontal RK elements, including such factors as cultural change, Regime development, capacity strategies, and legacy solutions, to help bring about appropriate changes in Departments.

3.2. Capacity Assessment Projects

Capacity

Assessing and building the enabling capacity of GC and Departments and Agencies for RK.

Projects in the Capacity Cluster deal with a number of aspects of capacity for RK within the GC:

  • Skills, competencies and training for public servants, managers and functional specialists;
  • Recordkeeping profile of information specialists;
  • Solutions and tools to deal effectively with the management of electronic and paper records; and
  • The role of electronic information resources in informed decision-making.

3.2.1 Acceptance by Programs and Information Professionals

It was found that:
The link between recordkeeping and business is not intially understood; but
the practice is quickly adopted and the demand and uptake are high, particularly among operational programs, when there is a departmental business lead, and
information professionals are both barriers to rk and enablers

Preliminary misunderstanding of link to business

  • RK is a new concept and not part of culture; and
  • Selling RK is high ramp up time - but uptake is rapid.

Government has traditionally considered records management to be a technical activity conducted by file clerks and primarily concerned with the archiving of records. This view has not recognized the link to business operations in Departments and is far from the contemporary view of RK.

It was necessary for all the assessment projects to explain the benefits of RK, but this was particularly true for the documentation standards and delegation authorities. It usually took considerable effort because RK is not part of the culture and vocabulary of government; it is seen in traditional terms by business managers and information professionals alike.

The lack of an RK culture was a significant roadblock to uptake and project completion in all the assessment projects. Unaware of the value of RK, public servants dismiss business dialogue because they perceive no difference between its organizational placement and technical discipline and those of records and information management.

The IM community focus is internal and does not currently address the user needs of recordkeeping - the Regime, culture and public servant capacity.

Many groups tried to fit RK into an existing functional community. By viewing RK as part of the current IM/IT (information management/ information technology) construct, they expected RK to deal with updated tools to solve problems and they viewed RK as the responsibility of the Chief Information Officer. At the same time, they viewed RK as an opportunity to elevate information management's functional stature in Departments, especially in IM/IT units. Where information managers have been exploring strategies to forge stronger linkages with their IT units, RK has focused on linkages to business performance and Deputy Head accountability. The assessment projects found that the community focus is internal and does not address the user needs of recordkeeping - the Regime, culture and public servant capacity.

Program uptake is high

  • Access to information resources is seen as a key enabler to business performance.
  • Elements for RK success currently exist as individual pieces - HR, $, knowledge, IT.
  • Greater support from program leads in service, regulatory, legal environments where value added is understood.
  • Programs where documentation is dictated by regulatory or legislative imperatives, such as HR, are strong supporters of the initiative.
  • But, other priorities often now take precedence over RK.

When the focus of RK shifts to business value and the management of records from the point of creation throughout their lifecycle, departmental operations managers quickly adopt RK as a key to accountability and performance. The assessment project related to access to electronic information resources identified such resources as a key enabler in informed decision-making.

When programs see that the RK Regime can be applied to their business needs and customized to any program environment, they readily accept it. The assessment projects demonstrated that RK is driven by demand, not supply. Information managers supplied tools and conducted the work in traditional records management, but Departments can now connect RK to functional analysis activities (e.g., PAA) and their business architecture. Programs "pull in" the RK Regime and link it to their business.

The rapid uptake of the RK Regime assessment projects demonstrated their business enabling value for issues such as decreasing the reporting burden, facilitating access requests, and responding to litigation demands. This is because the RK Regime is based on business manager accountability, and operational managers acknowledge and accept their responsibility within an RK accountability framework. In the litigation assessment project, business managers were found to be aware of their responsibilities, risks and liabilities, and looking for the kind of support a regulatory regime can provide.

Departmental maturity in RK is another key factor for uptake. Higher levels of maturity or readiness can be found in Departments that have existing management structures around all or some of their records, with pockets of maturity often found by function (e.g., HR, financial, legal). There was generally less structure around practices for business records, although Departments tended to be more accepting of RK when they had experienced records scandals in the past or were regulatory or case management in nature.

The success of the assessment projects could be linked directly to participation by program leads. These people understood the value of RK, its direct link to performance and accountability in their programs, and the consequences of an RK Regime for their business. Their eagerness to get staff to participate was crucial in keeping the projects moving forward, particularly as there are many competing priorities within Departments. Leads among senior management will be critical to legacy management solutions and to the successful implementation of delegated authorities.

  • The business and accountability aspects of RK do not fit into the current IM/IT construct, yet it is where people naturally try to make it work.
  • The IM Community looks for tools as key to response to crisis.
  • Professional identities of IM Community are threatened; opposition is greatest at operational level.
  • Resistance to RK specialist role from back office to business analysis/program linkages.
  • Lack of clarity of RK Domain roles among Central Authorities.
  • Uptake greatest among strategic IM, especially in legal, regulatory.

There is a direct relationship between the need for leads and the lack of GC-wide commitment to RK. Because RK is not yet part of the culture of government and is not communicated as a core responsibility, staff question its value. A current disconnect in the RK initiative itself exists between executive and staff, with the assessment projects demonstrating that operational program managers are the key agents of change.

Response of Information Professionals

Even with the favourable response by business, the assessment projects demonstrated that RK was not uniformly accepted among functional communities. As key links between RK and specific functional areas, these communities are essential to RK implementation; but they are also traditionally groups with established working methods and the greatest resistance to change.

Functional communities have strong professional identities that promote established ways of working and tend to hinder the cross-pollination of new ideas. An artificial distinction has developed between information professions over the past number of years, such that they are unaccustomed to working together to find solutions in the continually changing information environment. Whereas professionals define their activities in terms of objects or information products and services, the new RK context calls for an integrative view of information based on value chains. It is a challenging proposition to request new solutions from the same group of professionals who were involved in promoting past solutions.

A significant barrier was observed within the IM functional community at the operational level, in the form of opposition to changes in traditional records management methods. Instead of a focus on culture change and regime instruments, there was a push for new tools. Resistance from the IM functional community also arose around the lack of clarity of RK Domain roles and positioning among Central Authorities. This ambiguity reflects the lack of definition of the specific roles held by LAC, TBS, PWGSC and other central authorities within the IM Community and the question of who has authority in what area. This ambiguity led the community to focus on what a Central Authority should do instead of on solutions to RK problems.

The paradigm shift is clearly the most noticeable for records specialists whose role changes from back office support to business analysis and guidance in programs and functions, and who perceive RK as an IM renewal initiative. For example, many in the IM community viewed the information specialist profile assessment project as a threat, particularly because the current thinking is focused on the "passive" aspects of information management. The assessment projects also demonstrated the lack of commitment from information professionals for risk and value methods for records disposition and records value determination. These are basic principles of RK success, yet current reluctance is significant.

For a variety of reasons, strategic information managers were more receptive, especially those in the legal and regulatory fields. Strategic IM endorsed the Regime and the role of culture in enabling business change in the assessment projects, partly because this group had dealt with records crises and because it was more likely to believe that information is a strategic business asset.

Strategic IM indicated the need to link RK to Deputy-level performance and to expand its reach throughout the Management Accountability Framework. Records are currently evaluated within the stewardship area of the Framework, but their reach and breadth spans all areas and needs to be linked as such for cultural change to begin.

3.2.2 Skills and Competencies

It was found that:
recordkeeping skills and competencies are lacking across the public service and among key stakeholders

  • Core training for public servants and program managers is minimal and not current.
  • Traditional IM has lost traction and no longer responds to business requirements.
  • External stakeholders are not generally up-to-date on new RK directions.
  • Informed decision-making increases with access to information resources.

The assessment projects demonstrated a distinct lack of RK skills and competencies in the public service, among public servants, program managers, information professionals and functional specialists alike. RK is clearly not part of the culture of government: it is not considered a core responsibility in the training of public servants, and courses do not reflect RK requirements. The attention given to RK in IM courses at the Canada School of Public Service does not reflect the new realities of RK, particularly the needs of public servants, and is inadequate.

The deficiencies in RK skills and training was a barrier to all assessment projects, from a general lack of understanding and knowledge about RK and its benefits to business to a lack of ability to make good decisions around risk and value assessments for business records. Success in implementing the RK Regime instruments, legacy solutions and tools requires public servant knowledge as well as a capacity for making RK decisions.

As stated earlier, records management has traditionally been the responsibility of records managers and viewed more as a back office function than as part of the business of public servants. The gap between RK and business has widened in recent years, so that RK skills and competencies development and transfer are rare among public servants. This is also reflected in the strong focus on IM/IT and the relative lack of emphasis and resources afforded specifically to records in Central Agencies and in Departments.

The assessment projects identified RK knowledge and training requirements for public servants, supervisors and managers at all levels, as well as for functional specialists. The IM needs identified by functional managers are also being addressed by a community-driven initiative under way in partnership with the Canada School of Public Service. Unsurprisingly, in light of the differences between IM and RK, these needs are significantly different. Whereas IM focuses on tools, solutions and back office functions, the focus of RK is primarily on business analysis skills and embedding RK into the everyday operation of government business. Recordkeeping skills and competencies aim to make RK a core function for all new employees, functional specialists, and supervisors and managers at all levels.

External stakeholders, including consultants and private sector organizations, are not generally aware of the new RK directions of the GC. Until RK is communicated more broadly, the gap will continue to widen. This is a critical issue, as external resources often focus on IT solutions and traditional records management techniques, which differ considerably from those related to RK. The RK Regime provides a framework within which external stakeholders can develop standards, tools and solutions consistent with GC directions, and can update existing services and products to reflect new requirements, particularly in the development of systems and the provision of tools.

3.2.3 Modular Approaches by Business Function

It was found that:
modular implementation of standards, solutions and tools corresponds to a functional approach to business

The assessment projects found that all elements of the RK Regime, including standards, tools, and solutions, were optimally developed and applied when they used a functional approach that corresponds to departmental business programs and internal services. By adopting a functional approach, Departments determine the players, timing and implementation activities in a modular fashion based on factors specific to their readiness, maturity and available resources. In addition, RK is the construct with which all forms of documentary and decision-making activities can be organized no matter what the function, so that consistency is created across functions.

The necessity for modular implementation was identified in the assessment projects by the differences in departmental capabilities and readiness for IM. Some Departments have been using a recordkeeping system in electronic filing for many years, but others have no electronic IM tools and continue to print all records to paper systems. In still other organizations, particularly new and small agencies, individuals have limited experience in either electronic or paper IM. Any standards, solutions and tools must be usable by organizations at different levels of capacity.

The functional approach corresponds directly with the terminology and business process analysis required for GSRM, MRRS, PAA and other government-wide reporting activities. As such, the success of RK assessment projects was directly related to the adoption of functional approaches among operational staff in Departments that had already moved to function and activity approaches, or which were in the process of doing so. In addition, the documentation standard creates a broader understanding of an activity that is common to many business lines with higher demand and greater success. This was demonstrated in the policy assessment project in particular because of the similarities in workflow and process analysis. As well, the development of the HR documentation standard was relatively straightforward because the operational area saw the direct link to their program and the benefit of aligning information resource management with business activity.

Certain functional areas are more disposed to adopt the RK Regime, tools and solutions. Examples are service organizations, where case files and workflow analysis are critical to performance and accountability; regulatory and legal environments; and those related to standards, where the documentation of decisions is a routine business activity. There is greater receptivity to RK in these areas, in part because they share similarities with RK business value analysis and also because of the inherent element of accountability and performance that records bring to each of them. Programs rapidly understand that RK can be a key to the retrieval of documentary evidence and decision-making.

  • Documentation standards connect to PAA and enable DM accountability via functional approaches.
  • RK leverages workflow analysis, enabling more rapid implementation of PAA and functions.
  • Departments choose solutions/tools depending upon functional needs and current state of readiness (+ custom).
  • Use of function-based tools enable the emergence of RK enterprise approaches (+ standard).
  • Common standards for internal services and clustered functions reduce costs to Departments.
  • Modular approach allows easier application to paper and electronic environments.
  • Functional communities are essential to RK implementation.

Rapid uptake also appears to be higher in Departments where resources and funding are already dedicated to projects related to functions and workflow analysis and business process definition. Through these projects, Departments have developed business analysis skills and expertise similar to those required for RK business value analysis. These similarities were most apparent in Departments and Agencies with important case management functions, regulatory environments and the like. One Department already had business flow analysis diagrams of all investigative operations and simply had to layer the other aspects of documentation standards. Another organization had already invested resources in developing what is conceptually very close to a documentation standard for common HR practices and was easily able to add the documentation standard component of the RK Regime.

By categorizing RK tools and solutions by function (e.g., HR, G&Cs, policy), it is possible to develop a menu of mandatory and desirable RK Regime elements to arrive at a documentation standard which meets institutional accountability, stewardship, and business delivery requirements. This highly customized approach enables Departments to introduce RK Regime elements by function based on their own needs and state of readiness. There are numerous advantages of a modular approach, including customization to specific Department needs over time, easier application to paper and electronic environments, and the opportunity to develop a catalogue of RK options.

The assessment projects also led to the recognition that the functions approach could be applied in a more standardized way to government-wide functions by clustering like functions for greater coverage. An example is the development of a documentation standard for the grants and contributions function that could conceivably be applied to other Departments with similar business line to manage their records. This approach would lessen the burden on Departments to develop solutions individually, and the advantages of a consistent approach would decrease the risk to the GC. The assessment projects identified the need for functional communities to participate in RK Regime and to explore the development of RK functional clusters.

3.3 Legacy Assessment Projects

Projects in the Legacy Cluster relate to ways of dealing with the paper mountain:

Legacy

Dealing with the paper mountain of unstructured and unmanaged legacy business and archival records.

  • The New Storage Model provides secure, accessible, and cost-effective storage in appropriate environmental conditions for GC records in all media;
  • The Clearing the Path methodology provides for the identification and disposition of government records of no archival value; and
  • The Risk-based Approach to Unmanaged Legacy Business Records offers a cost-efficient alternative methodology for the disposition of unmanaged business legacy records.

3.3.1 Eliminating the Paper Mountain

It was found that:
solutions exist to break the past inertia created by legacy records and to eliminate the paper mountain; but
they require new ways of approaching storage and disposition

  • Risk based approach can greatly reduce paper mountain, enabling rapid disposition of legacy records or transfer to business environment.
  • Risk model can be applied to all legacy records based on departmental needs.
  • Risk averse nature of Departments is a current barrier.
  • New Storage Model offers options for secure, accessible, quality and cost-effective storage.
  • Private sector appetite for P3 approaches is high; time to negotiate new storage options is ideal.
  • GC must decide on most appropriate storage model to meet its needs.

The assessment projects related to legacy records all demonstrated that solutions exist to break the inertia and to focus on the way forward. The projects demonstrated a direct linkage between the RK Regime and the ability to eliminate the paper mountain through the implementation of a New Storage Model and a Risk Based Assessment for legacy records management. These approaches also respond to the needs of the information culture and new ways of working, at the same time as they contribute to culture change throughout the system.

However, the legacy projects demonstrated the need for Departments and the GC to adopt new approaches to the management, storage and disposition of records. If the paper mountain is to be managed rationally, the RK Regime, delegation instrument and RK directive will be essential. They offer reduction and compaction investments focused on records of long-term business value and the systematic elimination of unnecessary information.

In the legacy projects, Departments indicated that they need customized, scalable, and flexible solutions to individual storage situations, and that they want immediate short-term solutions to help resolve pressing legacy problems. They do not expect a perfect solution, but they are looking for direction and advice from RK experts at LAC. Their first need is for the immediate disposal of records that have outlived their usefulness or those that could be discarded in the context of a risk-based approach to unmanaged legacy business records.

In the longer term, Departments want a comprehensive, fully integrated, strategic approach and focused interventions for legacy records: informed and easily applied standards; directives, tools and training; a full suite of negotiated services and options; and a central portal through which products and services can be provided. The New Storage Model offers three options based on modern service provision models that can be deployed in accordance with the RK Regime. Government needs to choose one model that is most appropriate to the needs of Departments and the Government of Canada.

The projects also found that about 45 percent of operational records and 95 percent of case files currently in storage at Federal Records Centres (FRCs) have no archival value. Even though there is no deliberate intent to transfer records without archival value to FRCs, they take up a disproportionate amount of system resources. Departments require tools and skills to make better decisions for records disposition, and LAC requires monitoring tools so that only archival records are retained. In a related matter, opportunities exist for the paper mountain to be relieved in government Departments through the retroactive application of the case file MIDA.

The Risk Based Assessment model offers a rapid method for ascertaining which legacy records can be disposed of immediately and which can be transferred back into the system to be managed as records of continuing business value. The Clearing the Path and Risk Based Assessment projects showed that the challenge related to risk assessment is significant. Departments are typically risk averse and reluctant to dispose of records. In light of the information context and the increasing costs of physical and electronic storage space, it is critical to the culture of the GC for Departments to accept disposition based on risk analysis techniques.

RK Regime and Legacy Linkages

It was found that:
the legacy solutions are key to freeing up deparmtental and GC resources; and
reinvesting existing funds in a new recordkeeping regime and program of change

  • Legacy projects support the Regime and are most effective with Regime in place.
  • Legacy frees up resources for reinvestment into new RK Regime.

The New Storage Model and Risk Based Assessment projects demonstrated that Departments and the Government of Canada could achieve significant cost savings by adopting new approaches to the management of legacy records.

The New Storage Model options offer cost-effective solutions ranging from private sector involvement to Departmental cost sharing, with all approaches offering consistency and cost reduction per square foot. Departments are already paying for records storage, but they see the advantages of a centrally negotiated common service agreement with standard costs and services, taking advantage of a competitive private sector environment.

The projects revealed that many unmanaged legacy records not stored in professional conditions are in poor physical condition as a result, some showing damage from mould, water or rodent activity. Mismanagement of records is not an acceptable option; the New Storage Model offers cost-effective solutions to Departments for managing legacy records.

A key finding of the Risk Based Assessment project is that the paper mountain contains records of business value. These records occupy valuable space and resources which could be better managed as records of long-term business value in a record centre environment.

The Risk Based Assessment project demonstrated that risk allows for a much more cost-efficient method of triage - $25.67 per box, versus $104.76 per box for the traditional method. There were also time savings: review time using the RBA method was 12 minutes, versus 200 minutes with the traditional method.

4 Improvements Needed

The assessment projects found that there must be a combination of RK Regime, capacity enablers and new approaches to legacy records before cultural change can occur in Departments and across the Government of Canada. Departmental participants and the DG-level advisory group delineated a series of improvements that would be needed beyond the assessment projects in order to bring about broad change. These include:

Awareness and Communication

To raise awareness and manage expectations, departmental programs and information managers need a socialization and communication plan. Putting such a plan together would be a significant change management exercise requiring cultural change across the public service and among key stakeholders. Getting consensus on a number of key messages would require outreach strategies in a consistent manner using common vocabulary. These include socialization of the RK Regime as the agent of change, the principles of value and risk approaches, involvement of public servants as critical to success, and the value of RK to accountability and business performance.

Focus on DM Accountability and Performance

Recordkeeping is a key factor in DM accountability and performance. As a result, it must be positioned strategically in the context of government business, and its relationship with functional communities should be defined. RK needs to be tied to senior management and senior planning networks (aligned, for example, with management tools such as the PAA, MRRS and MAF) and operationally embedded within the day-to-day business architecture of Departments and agencies. RK must expand in the MAF beyond its current stewardship area to all indicators. These activities will increase its effectiveness, likelihood of success, and ability to influence change to embed a recordkeeping discipline and culture in government. This position needs to be clarified in the socialization and communications efforts.

Capacity Strategy

The appropriate culture change will require a comprehensive Capacity Building Strategy. This will include a horizontal approach that incorporates training and socialization for current staff, identification of competencies and requirements for future information professionals, and cooperation with universities and colleges across the country to influence curriculum development.

All findings of the assessment projects are linked and will be instrumental in the creation of a holistic information resource capacity framework.

In the context of the GC's information resources needs, an E-Library, aligned with government business goals, could have a transformative effect on decision-making by improving the way Departments provide access to the information resources needed by researchers and decision-makers to deliver results to Canadians. A proposal is currently on the table to create the first pillar of a Government of Canada E-Library, the federal science e-library which would deliver scientific and technical information from six science and technology Departments seamlessly to the desktops of more than 24,000 federal researchers, policy analysts, and decision-makers. Such an electronic library would provide more immediate access to important information, which in turn will support greater collaboration and more horizontally-integrated decision-making.

RK Domain Definition

The RK Domain Lead must be defined, and the roles and responsibilities of other players should be known so that their efforts can be synchronized. These definitions should affect their relationship with functional communities as well as the business context.

Legacy Responses

Inertia in the current RK system can be broken with the immediate disposal of outdated records. Stakeholders must agree on methods for altering the practices that created the crisis. Partnerships for the New Storage Model among Central Agencies are one option that will lead to proper implementation. Opportunities also exist for projects to estimate the paper legacy storage demand and to rationalize future storage requirements.

Enterprise Approaches

Appropriate enterprise approaches for RK should be explored. These include functional implementation of tools and solutions, the alignment of MIDAs for pan-Government functions (including administration and operations), improved efficiency of procurement process for information resources in collaboration with all stakeholders, and the New Storage Model.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation are essential elements of an RK management framework.

5 Conclusion

The assessment projects confirmed that the development and implementation of a robust RK Regime is the best means to achieve the desired outcomes articulated by TBPAC and the ADM Taskforce on Recordkeeping. The projects confirmed that a significant link exists between a strong RK environment and the ability of DMs to meet their accountabilities and improve business performance. Finally, the work validated the need for a business-focused Regime that balances compliance with standardized yet customizable approaches.

The projects identified the costs, time and effort necessary to implement required elements of the proposed regime. They demonstrated that the RK Regime would not be a costly proposition for the Government of Canada. While there will be a need for funding for initial development activities, existing funds and resources could be repatriated to meet the RK needs within a new context. Similarly, while the efforts related to initial socialization may be high, these can be alleviated in a program of cultural change and communication. The projects also demonstrated an important gap between RK and existing functional communities. Solutions to bridge the gap must be explored if RK is to be effectively linked to business operations and accountability.

These solutions require a range of elements which must be combined for a successful RK change initiative, and there is an obvious interdependence among the components of the RK Regime - including cultural change, capacity, tools and legacy solutions, all of which reside at the core of this initiative. However, the cultural and change aspects of RK are such that a Regime alone will not provide sufficient systemic transformation and it is certain that Departments individually cannot get the traction necessary to achieve results on their own. Consequently, for RK change to be effective, and for the paradigm shifts to be realized, the Government as a whole needs to act in a concerted and collaborative manner.

With these understandings in mind, the primary conclusion of this study is that RK needs to be recognized formally by the GC as a distinct core resource management function, and to be treated accordingly, under the direction of an assigned Domain Lead. The contextual paradigm in which RK is seen to exist is important and emphasizing its identity through its link to business programs and services will provide the necessary weight required to allow it to develop properly within the Government's overall IM strategy lead by CIOB. Granting RK this priority status provides the structured and practical interventions necessary to guide and shape the required change into reality and consolidate the gains realized by the work undertaken to date while paving the road for successful IM/IT achievements.

Therefore, it is suggested that LAC be tasked with developing a strategy to both operationalize and communicate the results/findings to date, for subsequent approval by TBPAC in the Fall of 2008. The development of the strategy would follow the same "step change" approach as the method used to this point for enabling RK change. By identifying and attacking the causes of the current issues, this method has proven effective in putting forward a series of breakthrough improvements in collaboration with Departments in a relatively short period of time. The ongoing use of this continuous improvement model has allowed the system to reach a new level of understanding and should continue to be utilized to help hold these gains and build the new culture.

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