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8. Details of Individual Metadata Elements

8.4 Agent Individual Name

Attributes

Attribute

Value

Identifying Attributes

Name

agentIndividualName

Label

Agent Individual Name

Defined by

Government of Canada Records Management Metadata Standard - agentIndividualName

Element URI

[To be actioned by Treasury Board of Canada, Secretariat before publication]

Definitional Attributes

Definition

The name of an individual who performed an action on a record or file at the time the action was taken.

Purpose

To identify the person who has carried out a specific action on a record or file for evidentiary requirements.

Rationale

"Techniques to ensure capture of records may include…d) systems which profile or template the actions undertaken in doing business, which…4) identify who has accessed a record…" ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 9.3

"Managing the use of records encompasses a) identifying the records system user permissions associated with individuals and their positions within the organization…" ISO Technical Report 15489-2, s. 4.3.8

"At the point of record capture, metadata should include metadata about agents associated with records and their management. Ensuring metadata about agents that are captured enables contextual information about agents involved in record creation and management to be documented… Agent metadata at the point of record capture should
a) identify the agents involved in records creation,
b) identify the agents involved in records management processes and their authorisation…
c) identify the agents authorized to access records." ISO Technical Specification 23081-1, s. 9.4.1

"The role of agents changes over time. Records systems need to capture these changes. This contextual information is necessary for understanding records." ISO Technical Specification 23081-1, s. 9.4.2

Value Domain

Enumerated strings of text representing names of individuals.

Datatype Name

String

Constraint

Applicable at record level and file level.

Obligation

Optional at record level; optional at file level.

Relational Attributes

Encoding Scheme

Institution-specific scheme

References

-

Linkages

Agent Individual Identifier; Agent Institution Name; Agent Institutional Entity; Agent Position Title; Agent Role; Event Date/Time; Event Description; Event Type; Security Clearance

Conditions of Application - Record

Format

Text, based on encoding scheme.

Modifiable

Pre Record Declared Locked

Post Record Declared Locked

No

No

Occurrence

Not repeatable

Conditions of Application - File

Format

Text, based on encoding scheme.

Modifiable

No

Occurrence

Not repeatable

Comments and Guidance

a) Explanation of Definition/Usage

This element is also used to identify a particular person who performed an action on a record or file. It is one of the elements that constitute a management and event history log. Agent Individual Name is important for accountability purposes and may have legal implications if it must be proven in the future that a person performed an action on a record or file.

This element is not the same as the element Agent Individual Identifier which records a code that represents the agent, but rather is the actual name of the agent. In order to ensure consistency and accuracy, the values entered in this element must come from an institution-specific scheme. This scheme may come from any number of lists including PeopleSoft, SAP, email access account, network account ID, etc.

Agent Individual Name is not to be confused with Creator or Trustee. Agent Individual Name does not appear on a record or file profile screen for two reasons: 1) it is not descriptive in nature; and 2) the value is auto-populated into a log file that cannot be altered. Creator is a descriptive element that is, in most cases, end-user input and is related to the making of the record. Trustee is also end-user input and is related to the stewardship of the record.

Agent Individual Name will be repeated in the log file for each action that is taken, but since only one action can take place at one single point in time, it is deemed as "Not repeatable".

b) Best Practices

Recommended best practice is to format the value for an individual's name using surname, first name.

Since this element is used for audit purposes, the value cannot be modified.

If an institution uses a Human Resources Information System such as PeopleSoft this system should be the authoritative source for all agent data; however this data must be reliably maintained over time to be useful. Agent data must be retrievable as a "snapshot" for any given date and time in order to prove in what capacity the agent was acting when performing an action on a record or file. Links to databases that are dynamic in nature and retain only current information about an agent do not satisfy the requirements of a management and event history log for the record or file. Therefore, best practice may dictate that the information about the agent be brought inside the EDRMS and possibly stored within an agent database.

It is up to the institution to determine how to implement the management and event history log. Each time an agent performs an action on a record or file, all information about the agent may be written to the log of the record or file, or alternatively, only one element (e.g. Agent Individual Identifier or Agent Individual Name) may be written to the log of the record or file yet permit linkage to the separate agent database containing other information about the agent.

In order to minimize storage concerns of writing to each record or file all information about the agent, recommended best practice is to maintain a table within the EDRMS that records information about each agent and the elements that relate to them. This table will be maintained as a type of agent database, with new entries made for each change of the agent's information. In this way, a "snapshot" of an agent's status can always be retrieved for evidentiary purposes. This agent database would then be linked to the management and event history log of the record or file through the common element Agent Individual Identifier or Agent Individual Name, i.e. as long as Agent Individual Identifier or Agent Individual Name is written to the management and event history log of the record or file, information about the agent can be retrieved from the agent database.

In the above scenario, when moving records and files out of the institution, the information about the agent must be moved also in order to properly maintain the integrity of the management and event history log of the records and files.

c) Obligation

This element is optional because the Agent Individual Identifier has already uniquely identified the user. However, a link between this element and the Agent Individual Identifier must be maintained in order to identify the agent's name at a later date.

d) Default Values/Auto-populate

This element is used as a log entry only and is not part of a record or file profile; therefore, all values for this element will be auto-populated by the EDRMS.

e) Linkages

This element is linked to all other agent elements and all event elements in order to constitute a management and event history log. It is also linked to Security Clearance in order to match an agent's clearance with the sensitivity of records and files.

f) Examples

  1. "Smith, John" - John Smith performs an action on a record or file. The EDRMS recognizes John from his login and applies his name to the log file

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