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E-government Development and Recordkeeping: A Comparative Study of e-government Best Practice in Swedish Municipalities
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Science, Technology and Media, Department of Information Technology and Media.
2011 (English)In: iRMA Information and Records Management Annual 2010, ISSN 1836-3202, 83-94 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

While information technology plays an important role in the delivery of e-government services there are other issues and processes that are of equal importance to successful e-government programs, namely the appropriate consideration of laws and regulations, sound business processes and change management. Records are also an important element of e-government as they support and demonstrate accountability and transparency and are a source of information for the citizens. In Sweden, the documents produced by public organisations are official records, and Swedish citizens are entitled to free access to them. These official records have been defined as an organisation’s archives.

 

During the last 10 years, there have been many government programs and initiatives in Sweden aimed at achieving world class practices in e-government. Given that records are a part of e-government, this paper addresses whether or not consideration has been given to the role and importance of recordkeeping in developing best practice e-government. The specific context for this study is local government municipalities as the aim of world class, or e-government best practice, includes this level of government in Sweden. In particular, the paper investigates whether or not the municipalities that exhibited best practice in the delivery of e-government services have embraced recordkeeping as important to their strategic development. If so, to what extent have recordkeeping principles and practices been incorporated in the processes? 

 

The paper focuses on the establishment of policies and business process descriptions such as retention and disposal schedules, preservation plans, the use of electronic records and competence issues. The underlying assumption is that municipalities that are good examples of e-government development are aware of the recordkeeping expertise, involve the archivists in working strategically with mapping processes, and have established routines, policies and guidelines for recordkeeping.

 

The study presented in this paper is part of a larger body of research that is still in progress. This research aims to contribute to a better understanding of the importance of recordkeeping competence as a valuable component of best practice in e-government implementation. It also aims to identify recordkeeping challenges related to e-government development and electronic recordkeeping.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
St Helens, Tasmania: RIM Professionals Australasia , 2011. 83-94 p.
Keyword [en]
E-Government, recordkeeping, local government, municipalities
National Category
Other Computer and Information Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-14701OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-14701DiVA: diva2:455380
Projects
CEDIF Centre for Digital Information Management
Available from: 2011-11-09 Created: 2011-11-09 Last updated: 2013-11-15Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Professional challenges in recordkeeping in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Professional challenges in recordkeeping in Sweden
2011 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sundsvall: Mid Sweden University, 2011. 66 p.
Series
Mid Sweden University licentiate thesis, ISSN 1652-8948 ; 72
Keyword
E-government, electronic recordkeeping, recordkeeping awareness, professional challenges, local government
National Category
Other Computer and Information Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-15727 (URN)978-91-86694-63-0 (ISBN)
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-01-18 Created: 2012-01-18 Last updated: 2012-07-30Bibliographically approved
2. 'The Emperor's New Clothes' Recordkeeping in a New Context
Open this publication in new window or tab >>'The Emperor's New Clothes' Recordkeeping in a New Context
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines if and how information capture and documentation practices and the function of the public archive are changing in relation to archival concepts in contemporary administrative settings, as a result of e-government strategic development. The study aims for a holistic approach from the beginning of the life of the records to their long-term preservation.

This research is situated in Sweden where the recordkeeping legislation takes a holistic approach: records management is understood as a dimension of the archival function and therefore records managers have not been recognised as a professional group, however recordkeeping practice involves two occupational groups: registrars and archivists. Swedish recordkeeping legislation is based on long administrative traditions in which the public right of free access to official documents is fundamental. Registration of official documents is important as the means of facilitating the citizens´ right to free access information and registrars are primarily responsible for this process, including classification. Archivists manage the full range of recordkeeping tasks, acting not only as custodians of repositories but also strategic experts on recordkeeping as well as auditing on behalf of the archival authority.  The archive legally consists of all the ‘official documents’ created or received in the organisation.

This is an explorative and documented case study that used several local government bodies (municipalities) for the data collection by document analysis and interviews. Swedish municipalities are particularly interesting because they are autonomous in relation to the national government, with complex organisational structures consisting of several politically controlled committees and administrative departments that implement political decisions and provide services to the public. The National Archives does not have any supervisory role or monitoring function over local governments, but it does publish guidelines on recordkeeping. Nevertheless, the municipalities are controlled to a large extent by the implemented policies decided at national level by the Government and Parliament. Therefore, national initiatives regarding e-government have impacted on the municipalities’ recordkeeping.

A theoretical lens combining archival science and theory of professions has been chosen to analyse the observed changes in practice. The thesis analyses the issue of recordkeeping awareness in three arenas: the legal arena; the political arena; and the workplace arena in the light of the records continuum model.

The research findings demonstrate a gap between the legal and workplace arenas caused by lack of recordkeeping awareness primarily within the political arena. Despite the holistic view of keeping archives expressed in the recordkeeping legislation, observed practice appears closer to a life cycle model than proactive continuum thinking and planning.  A lack of recordkeeping legislation awareness in the wider organisation is potentially leading to a division between records management and archives management, jeopardising the continuum approach. Consequently registrars may in the future become more like records managers and archivists may be losing part of their professional jurisdiction. There is a strong focus on business benefits to the organisation rather than the wider view of democratic values and cultural heritage. As a result: archivists seem to suffer a lack of resources as well as skills in order to carry out their responsibilities. The future role of archival authorities such as the National Archives is unclear.

Abstract [sv]

Just nu pågår en omdaning av den offentliga förvaltningskostymen för att möta politiska mål vad gäller utveckling av den offentliga sektorn med stöd av informationsteknologi. Denna avhandling undersöker konsekvenserna av en sådan ambition genom att använda den nuvarande offentlighets- och arkivlagstiftning som en referenspunkt i syfte att undersöka vad, varför och hur implementeringen sker. I Sverige utgör de allmänna handlingarna myndighetens arkiv och skall enligt rådande arkivlagsstiftning vårdas och förvaltas så att de tillgodoser behov rörande offentlighetsinsyn, rättskipning, förvaltning och forskningen. Det finns en lång förvaltningstradition och reglering kring registrering av allmänna handlingar relaterat till offentlighetsinsynen. Myndigheternas arkiv är per definition en del av det nationella kulturarvet. Allmänna handlingar är teknikoberoende, vilket medför att oavsett om handlingarna är pappersbundna eller digitala omfattas dessa av samma regelverk. Avhandlingen söker besvara frågan: Hur medvetna är offentliga organisationer om vikten av att hantera sina allmänna handlingar i det pågående e-förvaltningsarbetet på ett sådant sätt att de uppfyller kraven i offentlighets- och arkivlagstiftningen samt hur påverkas arkivariers och registratorers professionella status (positioner och arbetsutövning) inom organisationerna? Vidare analyseras relationen mellan nya strategiska initiativ avseende informationsfångst och arkivlagstiftningen.

Avhandlingen förenar arkivvetenskap och professionsteori. En teoretisk analysmodell har skapats för analys av tre arenor: den legala, den politiska och arbetsplatsarenan vad gäller medvetenheten om de legala kraven gällande offentlighets- och arkivlagstiftningen. Förändringar avseende styrnings- och kontrollsystem på legal och politisk arena kan få konsekvenser, dels för synen på vad som definieras som arkiv, dels för professionerna (arkivarier och registratorer) på arbetsplatsarenan. Om professionerna minskar jurisdiktionen, dvs. länken mellan professionen och arbetet, riskerar de att bli marginaliserade.

Avhandlingen baseras på fallstudier i svenska kommuner. Kommuner utgör till följd av den kommunala självstyrelsen inkluderande arkivorganisationen och mångfacetterande och komplexa organisationsstruktur intressanta studieobjekt. Datainsamlingen har skett via analys av dokument och intervjuer.

Forskningsresultatet tyder på att det råder ett gap mellan den legala och verkställande arenan beroende på att de legala kraven inte beaktas tillräckligt på den politiska arenan, vilket i sin tur kan få konsekvenser för arkivets roll i samhället, inte minst när det gäller rättssäkerhet och demokrati. Arkivarier och registratorer finns företrädesvis representerade i hanteringen av traditionell arkiv- och dokumenthantering. Resurser liksom kompetens saknas dock när det gäller att arbeta strategiskt med e-förvaltningsfrågor. Omedvetenhet på politisk och verkställighetsnivå om vikten av att arbeta proaktivt med arkivfrågor resulterar i att professionerna exkluderas. Tillsyn kan ses som ett verktyg för att bibehålla och ytterligare stärka arkivariernas professionella jurisdiktion samt att bidra till en ökad medvetenhet i organisationerna.

Fokus för e-förvaltningsutvecklingen har främst legat på verksamhetsnytta med betoning på den interna verksamhetsutvecklingen i organisationen, samt relationen till den enskilde medborgaren. Nya möjligheter att fånga och använda information väcker dock frågor kring informationens legala status i relation till offentlighets- och arkivlagstiftningen. Att strategiskt verka för offentlighetsinsyn och säkra informationen i ett vidare perspektiv som en del av ett kulturarv tycks inte ha samma dignitet. Arkivmyndigheternas framtida roll är oklar.

Avhandlingen bidrar med ny kunskap om relationen e-förvaltningen och arkiv- och informationshantering ur ett praktiskt, legalt och arkivvetenskapligt perspektiv. Avhandlingen kan därför vara praktiskt användbar på politisk och verkställighetsnivå när det gäller att öka medvetenheten om dessa frågor i offentlig sektor. Avhandlingen bidrar även till teoriutveckling inom den arkivvetenskapliga forskningen genom kombinationen av det teoretiska ramverket med arkivteori och professionsteori.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sundsvall: Faculty of Science, Technology and Media, Mid Sweden University, 2013. 277 p.
Series
Mid Sweden University doctoral thesis, ISSN 1652-893X ; 175
Keyword
recordkeeping, e-government, recordkeeping awareness, information management, continuum, public archive, archivists, registrars, local government, Sweden
National Category
Computer and Information Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-20217 (URN)978-91-87557-21-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-12-12, Sigma, Mittuniversitetet campus, Härnösand, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
CEDIFGOINFO
Note

The result presented derives from four years of research conducted within the Centre of Digital Information Management (CEDIF) at Mid Sweden University. During this time I have been involved in two research projects; the CEDIF project and the GOINFO project. Without funding, this research had not been possible. Therefore, I would like to thank EU Objective 2, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth, the County Administrative Board of Västernorrland, Härnösand Municipality, Sundsvall Municipality and Mid Sweden University – who all funded this research.

Available from: 2013-11-15 Created: 2013-11-15 Last updated: 2014-01-08Bibliographically approved

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