Integrity in Recordkeeping

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Submitted By
Arthur Doughty
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Votes: 103

The day to day records of government are the foundation of accountability, transparency and the rule of law.  Effective recordkeeping enables government to manage ongoing operations, deliver programs and services, and ensure accountability, stewardship, evaluation, audit, access to information, privacy, security and the continuity of government admin. Justice Gomery noted that he did not trust the integrity of the official record and advised that there should be a legal requirement for “mandatory record-keeping in government”.

Subsequent reports by the Information Commissioner and by the Auditor General have highlighted the absence of records and recent events have brought to light issues with regard to the records of ministers’ offices.  Others note the emergence of an 'oral culture' at senior levels.  Effective recordkeeping must be done with integrity and become part of the culture of all who are paid by the public.

Pass and implement mandatory recordkeeping legislation requiring that all government ministers, ministerial office staff, and the employees of all government departments and agencies create, maintain and archive a record of all actions, decisions and transactions. Establish auditable standards for records.

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Comments

Submitted by Arthur Doughty on June 17, 2014 - 7:37 PM

Thank you for responding. Yes, I am familiar with those directives. They are an excellent step towards effective recordkeeping within the Public Service. Has the review required by section 6.2.3 of the Recordkeeping Directive been started? Has the Auditor General noticed an improvement? The directives, though, have certain weaknesses: 1) they do not apply to ministers or to their staff. These public officials obviously play a key role in governance. In the search for the emails of Benjamin Perrin in the PMO, the PCO stated that their standard protocol was to delete the email accounts of staff once they leave. This appears to be contrary to the commitment to Open Government and to the spirit of the Directive on Recordkeeping and it should be contrary to law. One suspects that similar practices were followed in the offices of previous prime ministers. 2) Implementation of the Directive on Recordkeeping was not costed or funded.

Submitted by open-ouvert on June 12, 2014 - 6:34 PM

Thank you for submitting your idea! As a point of reference, you may want to check out the Government of Canada’s Policy on Information Management (http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=12742&section=text) and Directive on Recordkeeping (http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=16552&section=text). The mandatory Policy has been in effect since 2007 and requires departments and agencies to ensure that “decisions and decision-making processes are documented to account for and support the continuity of departmental operations, permit the reconstruction of the evolution of policies and programs, and allow for independent evaluation, audit, and review”. The Directive has been in effect since 2009, and requires departments and agencies to “identify information resources of business value, based on an analysis of departmental functions and activities, carried out by a department to enable or support its legislated mandate” as well as protect these information resources of business value. Do you believe these documents respond to the issues you are raising?