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Digital Record Management System in a Government Agency

Digital Record Management System in a Government Agency

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An electronic records management system (ERMS) is an important software tool helping companies efficiently store, structure and track digital information in a timely manner. Implementing such electronic system is very important for a government agency. However, some pitfalls should be considered in terms of a legal and ethical framework. Therefore, successful ERMS implementation needs the development of an appropriate archive policy and strategy.

A Proposed Archive Policy

The Mission of ERMS

It is to digitally encode and organize all paper-based data valuable to the nation to improve company’s effectiveness by digital support and facilitation of the access to e-records.

Roles and Responsibilities

Roles and responsibilities necessary for ERMS implementation should be considered within the framework of the Federal Law №7 of 2008 (Ministry of Presidential Affairs, 2015). It states that the National Center for Documentation and Research (NCDR) is an ultimate authority of all controlling governmental records after five years from the date of file closing (Article 6) with the consideration of individual’s right to privacy given him by the Constitution (Article 31). The company should also take into account the public right to access all information unless it is confidential as defined by the Law, and individual’s right to data protection, according to Article 378 of the Penal Code (Federal Law №3 of 1987). It provides that the dissemination of any personal data and proprietary information is an offence (International Committee of the Red Cross, 2015).

Senior managers have the responsibility for the creation and implementation of new record storage policies, providing policy frameworks to guide the staff and establishing standards of data gathering and accessing according to the legal requirements. Record proprietors are responsible for determining what e-records should be created, maintained and gathered, and for producing e-records for audit. Record custodians maintain and care for e-records inaccordance with the Federal Law №7 of 2008 “to provide favorable conditions for the safety and preservation of documents throughout their holding thereof” (Article 9) (Ministry of Presidential Affairs, 2015). Local record coordinators are responsible for ensuring that all paper-based information is recorded and stored appropriately in every company’s location. Local archivists are responsible for e-data preservation, securing all information accessible to the public and future generations. The staff are responsible for making and keeping e-records needed for work-related tasks and must observe privacy, security, and confidentiality at all times as required by the current legislation and archive policy.

Draft of a Legal and Ethical Archive Policy

An effective Archive Policy should include the following aspects:

1) Purpose. The purpose of the Archive Policy is to establish a framework for effective use of an electronic record management system (ERMS) by all parties with the intention of complying with legal provisions and ethical rules of conduct. The transparency of electronic information use is fundamental for company’s accountability.

2) Scope. The Archive Policy is applicable to all locations of the agency and all staff members without an exception. Some divisions of the company may have additional guidelines for e-record management, but they should not contradict with the statements of this archive policy.

3) Legislative framework and standards. The Archive Policy is developed in compliance with the following laws:

  • UAE Legislation: Federal Law №7 of 2008; Federal Law №3 of 1987 on issuance of the penal code (Article 378); Article 31 of the UAE Constitution; and Federal Laws No. 3 and No. 5 of 2012 of the National Electronic Security Authority (NESA) aiming to fight cybercrimes.
  • Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct of the UAE (Federal Authority for Government Human Resources, 2010).

4) Creation of e-records. In accordance with Section 3, the staff must create and mannage accurately all e-records that are related to their job tasks. E-records shall be created and stored in an accurate and efficient way, being accessible to the scrutiny authority when demanded, being protected to the fullest extent in terms of privacy and commercial confidentiality of its users, and being accessible in regard of the public right to access information unless limited by laws stated in Section 3.

5) E-records control:

  • Version control. All previous versions (drafts) of the final paper shall be deleted unless they contain important information that the final paper does not contain. Employees may not keep and use other versions of the paper for private purposes.
  • Security. Personal and commercial confidential information shall be safeguarded fully unless it can be disclosed in some circumstances as required by the Law.
  • Storage. All hardware and software tools of ERMS must be kept in clean and secure conditions with a low risk of damage. Records of high value require high quality storage and handling.

6) Disposal or destruction. The staff may not dispose or destruct records that present national interest under no circumstances. The company must dispatch all governmental records after five years of information closing to the NCDR, as an ultimate authority, unless there is an exception determined by the cabinet. If the staff is uncertain about the status of the document, it shall be treated as confidential until proven otherwise.

7) Audit and review. All information is subject to a systematic audit and review by authorized entities to ensure the compliance with the current legislation and the Archive Police.

Training Requirements

In order to understand and handle the roles efficiently, employees should attend appropriate training sessions dedicated to providing information about the application scope and elements of ERMS; training on the legal framework of operation, public rights and confidentiality; training for the ERMS employees’ technical skills to manage the system efficiently and enter data properly.

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