Denmark: Toward Global Leadership in Electronic Archives and Records Management

By Stephens, David O. | Records Management Quarterly, July 1997 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Denmark: Toward Global Leadership in Electronic Archives and Records Management

Stephens, David O., Records Management Quarterly

According to a recent article in Fortune magazine, the nations of Europe are far behind both Asia and the United States in the use of new information technologies, and the gap is growing wider. This matter has recently received public comment from world leaders in information technology. In separate addresses, Andy Grove, CEO of Intel, and Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft, both gave vent to dire warnings of this widening technology gap. Mr. Grove observed that Europe's companies "operate like old-line U. S. companies did ten years ago," while Mr. Gates spoke urgently about Europe's radically lower rates of business Internet usage compared with those of the U.S.[1]

The Fortune article did, however, indicate that the information technology picture in Europe is not all bleak; it observed that a few of Europe's smaller nations are among the world's most technologically advanced. One such country - the Kingdom of Denmark - is the subject of this article. This small, industrial nation in northern Europe has a population of just over five million, but it has recently become very aggressive in assimilating new information technologies into its recordkeeping systems, particularly in the public sector. In fact, if the Danes can do what they say they want to do, we would feel comfortable in using the term "global leadership" to characterize their initiatives in electronic recordkeeping and records management.


What are the Danes doing to justify such an accolade? On January 1, 1996, the Danish National Archives issued new regulations on electronic recordkeeping in the public administration, authorizing public institutions to introduce "full electronic case administration and filing systems." These regulations were issued as the "Circular on Electronic Filing with National Authorities." According to Frank Jensen, the Danish Minister of Research and Information Technology, and Jyette Hilden, Minister of Culture (to whom the Danish State Archives reports), these new regulations make Denmark "the first country in the world where a national registry authority [the Danish State Archives] authorizes public authorities [ministries of government] to discontinue using paper archives and introduce full electronic filing systems."[2]


Let's present some background on this aggressive initiative toward an "all paperless" national government, and then we will offer some comparisons to the situation here in the United States. To begin with, "going paperless" is one of the Danish government's highest strategic objectives. In fact, the transition to electronic recordkeeping in the public sector is a "major element in the Danish government's IT Political Action Plan for 1995."[3] This came about as a result of a report entitled "Information Society 2000," which was prepared in October 1994.[4] As its major strategic objective, the report envisaged "radical upgrades ... to strengthen Denmark's realization of the information society." Among its many recommendations, the report envisaged the complete interconnection of the central and local governments throughout Denmark in a comprehensive electronic network, and the introduction of electronic instead of paper-based recordkeeping. It is further envisaged that future filing systems must be designed in such a way that the potential of new information technologies (i.e., for automatic registration of electronic records, for grouping them in "electronic file folders, and for searching across entire enterprises) are utilized to their full extent.

In December 1994, the Ministry of Information and Technology formed a working group on electronic filing. This group declared that the Danish State Archives should, by January 1, 1996, allow public agencies to replace traditional paper-based filing with electronic filing as the formal filing method, thereby paving the way for governmental institutions to drop paper filing completely and introduce fully electronic filing systems and workflows.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Denmark: Toward Global Leadership in Electronic Archives and Records Management


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?