Managing Electronic Records

The National Archives and Records Service of South Africa (NARSSA), in terms of its statutory mandate, requires governmental bodies to put the necessary infrastructure, policies, strategies, procedures and systems in place to ensure that records in all formats are managed in an integrated manner. The NARSSA endorses the SANS (ISO) 15489 Records Management Standard, SANS (ISO) 23081 Metadata for Records and SANS (ISO) 15801 Trustworthiness and Reliability of Records Stored Electronically. These are benchmarking tools for sound records management.

The primary standard for creating and managing electronic records in office environments which is endorsed by the NARSSA is SANS (ISO) 16175-2:2014 Ed. 1.00: Information and documentation - Principles and functional requirements for records in electronic office environments -- Part 2: Guidelines and functional requirements for digital records management systems.  The standard relates to the structured records systems such as those in which records are managed according to a file plan.

Any product that complies or benchmarks or shows the functionality as required in SANS (ISO) 16175-2:2014 or the European Commission’s Model Requirements for the Management of Electronic Records (MoReq2010) or the Design Criteria Standard for Electronic Records Management Software Applications (US dod 5015.2), would ensure that an electronic records management application has the generic records management functionality required by the NARSSA.

The NARSSA requires governmental bodies to implement and maintain Integrated Document and Records Management Systems that provide as a minimum the following records management functionality:

·         managing a functional subject file plan according to which records are filed;

·         managing e-mail as records;

·         managing web-sites as records;

·         maintaining the relationships between records and files, and between file series and the file plan;

·         identifying records that are due for disposal and managing the disposal process;

·         associating the contextual and structural data within a document;

·         constructing and managing audit trails;

·         managing record version control;

·         managing the integrity and reliability of records once they have been declared as such; and

·         managing records in all formats in an integrated manner.

Not many governmental bodies have the capacity to implement fully automated Integrated Document and Records Management Systems. This does not however mean that they should not manage their electronic records. If these records are created to aid in decision-making and to perform transactions that support the governmental bodies' activities, governmental bodies are responsible for the proper management of those records. If records generated in such an environment are not managed properly it can lead to the possible illegal destruction of records. To enhance their accountability, bodies should ensure that, even without the benefit of an Integrated Document and Records Management System, they exercise effective records management.

Detailed information regarding the management of electronic records is contained in the NARSSA's two publications Managing electronic records in governmental bodies: Policy, principles and requirements and Managing electronic records in governmental bodies: Metadata requirements