Evaluation of Records Management Practices at the Ministry of Health, Abia State, Nigeria

By Alegbeleye, Prof Gabriel O.; Chilaka, Uzoma C. | Library Philosophy and Practice, February 2019 | Go to article overview

Evaluation of Records Management Practices at the Ministry of Health, Abia State, Nigeria


Alegbeleye, Prof Gabriel O., Chilaka, Uzoma C., Library Philosophy and Practice


Introduction

Records are documentary evidence of routine transactions made or received by an organization in pursuit of its legal obligations irrespective of the physical form or characteristics. They are category of information identified by the particular functions they perform in support of business, accountability and cultural heritage. They confirm who did what, where, and when. Therefore, records management is making and maintaining complete, accurate and reliable evidence of official business in the form of recorded information. Records are important to the administration of government institutions, because they contain the necessary information that helps government programmes function effectively. Records give government grounds for making decisions, administering programmes and providing administrative continuity with past operations. Records help to make the government and its officials accountable. It is therefore worth noting that for the purpose of transparency and accountability, government institutions should create and preserve reliable and usable records.

Records management is the application of systematic analysis and control of records from their creation through processing, maintenance and protection to final disposal. Records management is aimed at preparing, arranging, storing and retrieving of records and information when they are needed. It refers to the whole range of activities which an organization should perform to properly manage its records. The key activities include setting records management policy, assigning responsibilities, establishing and promulgating procedures and guidelines, as well as designing, implementing and administering recordkeeping systems. Records management is important because it supports an organization to make decisions based on evidence; meet operational, legal and regulatory requirements; be open and accountable; enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness; and maintain organization or collective memory.

There are five (5) stages involved in the efficient management of records throughout their life cycle: records creation, maintenance (storage and protection), use and disposition (transfer and disposal) and retrieval. The creation of records should be properly organized. This is necessary to ensure easy retrieval when they are needed for their purpose. Records maintenance (storage and protection) involves transferring inactive records from the main files into the transfer files to be stored away and ascertaining that records are kept for the predetermined length of time established by retention schedules and overseeing the actual destruction of unsafe records to pave way for useful ones. It is usually a management decision to dispose records that are no longer of any use. Records retrieval involves all those activities in locating and removing tangible records from the files or the file itself as a whole from the file cabinets.

The goal of records management is to ensure that civil servants create the records they need, keep these records in ways that allow for efficient access and use, maintain the records for as long as they need them for operational, legal, and audit purposes, and to dispose of them when they are past their retention period. Most records are destroyed at the disposal point; however a small percentage of records are identified as having permanent value to the ministries. These records should be transferred to the state Archives. For records management practices to be effective, policies need to be put in place that are needed for records creation, maintenance, and preservation. Records retention and disposal schedules are needed to guide and control the management of records from creation to disposal. Records management in developing countries, and indeed Nigeria is yet to attain the level of attention and support it has received in countries of the developed world.

Abia State is one of the thirty-six states (36) that constitute the Federal Republic of Nigeria. …

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