Record keeping is a major problem

Letters, Normal

I REFER to the report “Poorly kept records not helping Govt” (The National, Sept 23).
The chief secretary is right to say that.
The heads of government departments and the chief secretary should come out with some programmes to develop a public record keeping system with advice from professional archivists.
There is an urgent need for record management directives to be developed and introduced to all government departments so that the traditional registry operations are put it place.
This is important since the chief secretary has expressed the need to make plans for better management of records of the country.
It is not only the records, but other data and historical sites, biographical data, etc, have been completely ignored and, thus, left to decay over the years.
Remember, a nation without a history is a lost nation.
Unfortunately, records of all Government departments have not been transferred to the National Archives for permanent preservation since political independence, and as a result, some of these records have either been destroyed or are left to the termites to destroy these files.
The departments have not been keeping records according to procedures. 
Unfortunately, I was not informed of the meeting and did not attend. 
I am concerned with the records management programmes for Government departments and the role the National Archives has been doing over the last few years.
The chief secretary is correct to say there is practically no record from Government departments at all.
The central registration and registry system was abolished when positions were abolished in the name of downsizing and multi-skilling.  
When this happened, the work was passed on to personal assistants, typists and secretaries who are often overworked and underpaid and are expected to look after files and records.
Some departments have hired their drivers, security guards and tea boys to perform duties of filing clerks and manage file.
It is good PARBICA will introduce the trainer of trainer’s toolkit.
I am sure that the Department of Education, which is responsible for the National Archives, will put aside some funds for a training programme for officers of the National Archives to go out and train officers in the entire country.
Our National Archives, which used to be one of the best in the Pacific Islands region, is slowly dying due to lack of support and funds.
Jacob Hevelawa is the only person committed to the National Archives while other archivists have left for greener pastures. 
There is no storage facility in the country for the National Archives to store the closed files.  
The repository of the National Archives is now full and it will not accept any more files as there is a lack of storage space.  
Government departments will have to develop their own means for storage of closed files, either buy shipping containers or rent warehouse facilities.
Lack of storage facilities has led to destruction of valuable records.
Destruction of records will lead to misleading and mismanagement of files and records.
This, unfortunately, has continued over the years since independence.
Lack of procedures and movements of records and files can lead to corruption and bribery.
Officers must realise that these files can provide evidence of official transactions. 
In the long run, the history of the departments and history of the nation are reserved in the archives as permanent records.


Sam Kaima
Records management consultant