Government of Canada Records Management Metadata Standard - fileCode
[To be actioned by Treasury Board of Canada, Secretariat before publication]
The unique code, derived from a classification scheme / file plan, of the file.
To associate the record or file to the classification scheme / file plan which supports the functions and activities of the business/program area.
To ensure that records and files are linked to the classification scheme / file plan in a consistent manner over time.
To assist in the retrieval of all records and files relating to a particular function or activity.
A mechanism that allows for the application of retention requirements and disposition actions for records and files.
"Classification of business activities acts as a powerful tool to assist the conduct of business and in many of the processes involved in the management of records including
a) providing linkages between individual records which accumulate to provide a continuous record of activity,
b) ensuring records are named in a consistent manner over time,
c) assisting in the retrieval of all records relating to a particular function or activity,
d) determining security protection and access appropriate for sets of records,
e) allocating user permissions for access to, or action on, particular groups of records,
f) distributing responsibility for management of particular sets of records,
g) distributing records for action, and
h) determining appropriate retention periods and disposition actions for records." ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 9.5.1
"A useable record is one that can be located, retrieved, presented and interpreted. It should be capable of subsequent presentation as directly connected to the business activity or transaction that produced it. The contextual linkages of records should carry the information needed for an understanding of the transactions that created and used them. It should be possible to identify a record within the context of broader business activities and functions." ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 7.2.5
"A records system should … b) organize the records in a way that reflects the business processes of the records' creator, …" ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 8.2.2
"Business or personal actions should be captured as records and linked with metadata which characterize their specific business context when they commit an organization or individual to action, render an organization or individual accountable, or document an action, a decision or decision-making process." ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 9.1
"Shorthand methods of referencing records by means other than the title are commonly used. The allocation of numbers or codes is usually undertaken for an aggregation of records." ISO International Standard 15489-1, s. 9.5.5
"Metadata for accessibility should do the following …
f) facilitate the classification of business functions, activities and transactions
g) facilitate the classification of records." ISO Technical Specification 23081-1, s. 126.96.36.199 and s. 9.6.1
Enumerated strings of text representing file codes.
Applicable at record level or file level. Must be applicable for at least one level; may be applicable at both levels.
Mandatory at record level or mandatory at file level. Must be mandatory for at least one level; may be mandatory at both levels.
Institution-specific approved corporate classification scheme / file plan
Container; Event Type; Essential Status; File Name; Location; Retention Period
Conditions of Application - Record
Text, based on encoding scheme.
Pre Record Declared Locked
Post Record Declared Locked
Yes, by authorized official only.
Conditions of Application - File
Text, based on encoding scheme.
Yes, by authorized official only.
Comments and Guidance
a) Explanation of Definition/Usage
File codes facilitate filing, retrieval, and retention and disposition of records and files. File codes are an important link to information on how long records and files are to be retained. Incorrect coding may result in records or files being disposed of too early, retained for too long or accessed by unauthorized individuals.
Depending on the system, files can be arranged block-numerically, alphabetically, or alphanumerically. In block-numeric filing systems, numbers are used as codes. The codes replace fully worded captions (e.g. 7000-1 represents the Finance and Accounting area). In alphabetical filing systems, numeric codes are replaced with descriptive titles (e.g. Human Resources represent records pertaining to the Human Resources area). In alphanumeric filing systems, a code consists of a combination of capital letters and numbers, or a combination of capital letters and lowercase letters in addition to numbers (e.g. AD5000-1 represents the Human Resources area).
This element is not to be confused with the element Subject which uses an enumerated value to describe the content of the record. A value from a function-based classification scheme / file plan is unlikely to be equivalent to a subject term. The Government of Canada is moving from subject-based classification schemes / file plans to a function-based approach.
In addition, this element is not to be confused with the element Identifier which is an unambiguous code that identifies one record from another.
b) Best Practices
Recommended best practice is to select a value from an institution-specific approved corporate classification scheme / file plan.
Many institutions will add an institution-specific prefix to their file codes to distinguish their classification scheme / file plan from that of another institution. They may also use this prefix to distinguish between branches and divisions within their institution.
This element is generally applied at the file level, with the records in the file inheriting the value. It can, however, be applied at the record level. It must be applied, if applicable, to at least the file or record level and may be applied, if applicable, at both. Some institutions base their retention and disposition processing at the record level rather than the file level.
The value of File Code may be concatenated with the value of File Name to better clarify the contents of the file.
Once the record is locked the value for this element may be modified by an authorized official only in cases when the record must be moved to another area of the classification scheme / file plan. Similarly, changes may have to be made to coding of the files themselves to accommodate changes in the classification scheme / file plan.
This element is a fundamental requirement for records management and is mandatory.
d) Default Values/Auto-populate
This element is auto-populated through the classification scheme / file plan.
This element is linked to the elements Container and Location in order to locate the record or file. It is also linked to the element File Name in order to gain context via the identification of the name of the file. As well, it is linked to the element Essential Status to assist in the maintenance of the record or file since the status will help determine where and how a record or file is stored. Additional, it is linked to the retention information through the element Retention Period element in order to ascertain how long the record or file must be retained and ultimately to identify its final disposition.
File Code is linked to the element Event Type in cases where a change to the classification code of the record or file must be noted in the management and event history log.