From: Alison Drew - Archivist, City Museums and Records Office M
*** Resending note of 12/07/00 12:28 E
To: 141MLPR --PCC Alison Drew
From: Paul Gibbons
Subject: FOI,DPA Survey
Alison, I wonder if you could forward the following to the NRA list. Many thank
I have been asked to provide a summary of the responses to the mini-survey that
Alison kindly posted to the list on my behalf a couple of weeks ago. The resul
ts are interesting, if perhaps a little worrying. I received responses from 10
1. Staffing. In local government, staffing for RM ranged from 1 (2 part time po
sts) to 5. Those with more staff have been better placed to take advantage of c
urrent developments. In 2 cases, a records or document manager had been employe
d corporately to oversee RM throughout the organisation. They were independent
of the existing archives/RM set up. The respondents appeared to see this as a p
ositive thing - one said "Archives will at long last break free of RM, knowing
that there will be a responsible person in charge."
2. FOI and DPA. One service was taking a proactive approach (notably a fairly w
ell resourced RM service), sending out questionnaires to departments and planni
ng follow-up surveys for depts who didn't respond. A few others were liaising w
ith the corporate Data Protection Officer to greater or lesser degrees. Most we
re "monitoring developments" - or waiting to be told what they needed to do.
3. E-government & EDMS. The authority mentioned as taking a proactive approach
to FOI and DPA was equally active on this issue. They have set up a working par
ty, chaired by the Modern Records Archivist, with 3 main aims:
i. replace paper records with electronic
ii. promote and train for better use of existing software
iii. meet govt. targets (aiming for original 2008 target)
They have set up 4 pilot schemes, one for each dept.
In other authorities, departments are working independently, and don't appear t
o be involving archivists or records managers. Some saw Best Value and similar
schemes as providing a basis for this work in the future.
4. Best Value. Most have not been assessed as yet, archives and RM being left u
ntil last in most local authorities (no surprise there then). One which had bee
n assessed reported that they were undergoing market testing (though with the l
evel of staffing that they had, it seems difficult to envisage a cheaper option
Susan Healy also reminded me that the Lord Chancellors code of practice, when p
ublished, should strengthen our case for improved RM.
Interesting reading I'm sure you'll agree. Though the sample was small, I think
it supports my own belief that local government is extremely unprepared for cu
rrent government initiatives and legislation, and that we as a profession are i
n danger of missing out on the best opportunity we have had to improve our serv
ices. I hope this will provoke some discussion amongst the profession - I don't
believe that these issues are being discussed enough at present.
Thanks again to those who responded to my survey.
Modern Records Archivist,
Portsmouth City Council