Elements of a Sound Records Management Programme
Records management policy
Records managers should implement records management policies, which are endorsed by the heads of the governmental bodies and their top management teams as well as by the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa (NARSSA).
The records management policy should address, within the broad policy guidelines provided for by the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act (Act No. 43 of 1996, as amended) (NARSSA Act) all aspects of the identification, security, safe custody, disposal and retrieval of records.
Records management procedures
The records management policy should be backed by the governmental body's records management procedures. These procedures should be designed within the broad records management principles established by the NARSSA Act and take into account the unique functions, structures and resources of each governmental body.
Records classification systems
Each governmental body should develop, implement and maintain the following prescribed recordkeeping systems:
- File plan, which is a plan by which documentation is arranged and stored to facilitate efficient retrieval and disposal. The file plan is used for both current paper-based and current electronic correspondence systems; and
Schedule for records other than correspondence files, which enables governmental bodies to manage records other than correspondence systems. These records are subject to the same requirements of control, care and disposal as records kept in correspondence systems. The records control schedule consists of the following parts:
- Schedule for paper-based records other than correspondence systems, which contains a description of all paper-based current records other than correspondence files;
- Schedule for microfilm records, which contains a description of all micrographic records and projects;
- Schedule for electronic records systems other than the correspondence system, which contains a description of all electronic information systems other than the electronic correspondence system;
- Schedule for audio-visual records, which contains a description of all audio-visual records.
Record control mechanisms
Each governmental body should develop, implement and maintain the following record control mechanisms:
- Register of files opened, which contains a description and opening dates of all files that were actually opened according to the subject provisions in the filing system.
- Register of disposal authorities, which contains copies of all disposal authorities issued by the NARSSA, to that specific governmental body.
- Destruction register, which contains information on the year in which non-archival records are due for destruction.
A systematic disposal programme should be implemented -
- Templates for applications for disposal authority
- by applying the NARSSA's General Disposal Authorities for records that are common to most offices;
- by applying for disposal authority (part 4 of the Records Management Policy Manual) on all current and terminated paper-based, electronic, micrographic and audio-visual records, which are not covered by the General Disposal Authorities;
- by ensuring that retention periods are determined for all non-archival records when the disposal authority has been issued; and
- by ensuring that the disposal authorities are carried out on a regular basis.
Records managers should attend training courses to equip them with the necessary skills to enable them to perform their tasks. Training courses in records management are offered by universities and private service providers on different levels. South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) accredited courses are recommended.
After attending training courses the records managers should ensure that all staff members are capable of reading the filing system and allocating file reference numbers to documentation. They should also ensure that all staff members are conversant with the proper registry procedures to enable them to support the Registry to function properly.
The records managers should ensure that all registry staff are equipped with the necessary skills to enable them to carry out their functions properly.