Records management readiness for open government in the Kenyan judiciary.
Maseh, Elsebah Jepkemboi.
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Records are valuable assets that need to be managed by any organization or nation. They are vital to virtually every aspect of the governance process and fulfill important functions in society by providing evidence of and information about the transactions of individuals and organizations. Records are fundamental to the efficient and effective operation of the legal system of any country and are more critical to the administration of law than to any other function of the public sector. This study sought to investigate records management practices in the Kenyan judiciary with a view to promoting transformation and facilitation of open government for effective and efficient justice delivery. It sought to address the following research questions: How are records created, accessed and used, stored and maintained, appraised and disposed of, and preserved?; What records management policies, plans, and guidelines are available?; What skills and competencies do the records management staff have?; What is the level of awareness and attitude of staff towards sound records management practices? and What strategies is the Kenyan judiciary using to achieve openness? The study was underpinned by the Records Continuum Model, the IRMT e-records Readiness Tool and the Open Government Implementation Model. Literature was reviewed based on themes gleaned from the research questions, the underpinning models and broader areas of the study. The study adopted a pragmatic paradigm associated with the mixed methods approach (MMR) where the qualitative aspects were dominant and quantitative less dominant. The study adopted an embedded case study design and data was collected through the use of interviews, questionnaires, observation and document review methods. The population of the study comprised court registrars, deputy registrars, records officers, registry assistants, judges and magistrates in the high court and magistrates’ courts in Nairobi and Uasin Gishu counties. Since the population was considered small, a complete enumeration of the population (census sampling) was included in the study. Reliability and validity of the instruments was ascertained through the use of peer debriefing, triangulation, member checking and Cronbach’s alpha. The data collected were presented and analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively where the qualitative data were analyzed thematically and presented in narrative description ii while the quantitative data were coded and analyzed using computer software (SPSS) and then presented in tables, graphs and charts where applicable. The findings of the study revealed that although records management had been improved in the Kenyan judiciary it was still weak. Records were not managed well in a continuum of care from creation to disposition. Further, there were no records management policies and trained records officers were inadequate. Furthermore, though records were recognized as pivotal in the administration of justice, records management had not been fully supported by the top management. There was no independent budgetary allocation for records management for instance and records management had not been accorded the status of a directorate like other administrative functions such as human resources. Moreover although the Kenyan judiciary was only in its initial phase of implementing its openness, there were notable benefits that had already accrued to the judiciary. However, there were challenges facing the judiciary that needed to be addressed if justice was to be delivered effectively and efficiently. The study therefore concluded that the current state of records management was most likely going to impede successful implementation of judiciary transformation and openness and the delivery of justice thereof. The study therefore recommended that among other things, records management in the judiciary needed to be improved by: formulation of records management policies; building records management capacity by either hiring qualified persons or retraining the available staff; soliciting top management support; and using the Open Government Implementation Model (Lee and Kwak, 2011) as a bench mark for the implementation of open government in the judiciary.