Records are the backbone of any entity, be it the Government or the private world. Without good records it is impossible to achieve the purposes, objectives, or mission for which it exists. And because it is true that better records make better Government we would do well to give attention to the essential business function of Records Management.
The definition of a Federal record is basically any information regardless of the format that is created, used or received during the course of Government business. The management of records is the process by which records are managed from creation until they are destroyed or retired and sent to a storage facility. Records are like people in the since that they are born, which in the case of a record we call creation. From birth they are used and we call this managed or maintained, and lastly records are finalized or they reach their ultimate disposition either destruction or retirement where they are sent to facility that is meets all the codes and regulations to store Government records.
Government records are the second most important asset it possesses, preceded only by its people! The Government is as dependent upon its records as people are on the essential records it needs to function each and every day. Can you imagine living in a world that did not require such vital information as Birth Certificates, Drivers Licenses, Marriage Licenses, Passports, Estate Will, Property Deeds, etc? How would our world function if these items did not exist or how would you function if these items were missing or lost? Without these records it would be very difficult to justify our existence. We could not determine where we have been, what we do, where we are going, or how we are going to get where we plan to go. Likewise if a Government does not properly manage its records it can effectively fulfill its responsibilities to it citizens. Accurate, reliable, and efficient records make it possible for the Government to fulfill its obligations to people.
In closing there are three unique features about Government records that are worth mentioning:
• Government records are owned by its citizens
• Government records must be managed deliberately. Records management does not occur in a vacuum, and it will not occur without planning and exercising of proper procedures on a consistent basis.
• It is the irreplaceable nature of records that give them their supreme value. Records destroyed cannot be recovered. It may be a very tragic situation to destroy record too soon; it may also be tragic to keep records too long. And certainly there are some records that should never be destroyed. In any event records are very valuable and one of the main reasons for their value is because once they are destroyed it is impossible to gain access to them again.
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