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Issues with contact centres: as a new interface between public organisations and citizens
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Science, Technology and Media, Department of Archives and Computer Science.
2013 (English)In: Records Management Journal, ISSN 0956-5698, E-ISSN 1758-7689, Vol. 23, no 2, 90-103 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Various levels of government offer citizens different channels and services using information technology (IT). Within e-government different types of “e-services” are used. The communications are made through a user interface consisting of an e-service application. E-services are used for digital management of routine matters: records are created, received, maintained, used and disposed during the processes of capturing and maintaining evidence about business activities and transactions. Besides e-services, public administrations are establishing new channels organised as contact centres, in order to interact more efficiently with the citizens. The establishment of contact centres could be seen as an expression of an integrated approach to manage and control information flows in order to improve and ensure effective services. The purpose of this paper is to identify recordkeeping challenges related to public organisations’ e-government development and documentation practice. The data presented and analysed are based on a qualitative study of Swedish local governments’ (municipalities) establishment and implementation of contact centres during 2011. The study was designed as a multiple case study, using interviews as a data collection method. The findings demonstrate that the establishment of contact centres has other motives than the traditional need to use information as evidence for decision making: namely internal business process development and cost savings. The information is captured proactively and serves different purposes, which challenges the strong bond between processes, legislation, organisation and accountability. This paper will be of interest to record-keeping practitioners working in the shift to e-government. Information is captured in new ways where the same information serves several interests. This research addresses the importance of including research in the beginning of the life of the record in relation to the influence made by the creator and the social construction of the record as part of archival thinking and research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2013. Vol. 23, no 2, 90-103 p.
Keyword [en]
Sweden, Local government, e-Government, Digital storage, Documentation, Archiving, Records Management, Cross-Border Organisation, Recordkeeping, Processes, Accountability
National Category
Computer and Information Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-19635DOI: 10.1108/RMJ-01-2013-0002Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84880145840OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-19635DiVA: diva2:637983
Available from: 2013-07-24 Created: 2013-07-24 Last updated: 2016-09-21Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. '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)
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Supervisors
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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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