The significance of records management to fostering accountability in the public service reform programme of Tanzania.
This study investigated the extent to which records management practices fostered accountability in the Public Service Reform Programme (PSRP) in some government ministries in Tanzania. The effective implementation of the PSRP depends largely on many factors, the most important of which is the proper and well organized methods of managing public records. It is essential for government ministries to ensure that records are properly managed at every stage of the records life cycle, so that the information they contain can provide evidence of transactions and the efficient and effective provision of service to the public. The records life cycle model through its phases formed the theoretical foundation of the study. A mixed methods research approach was adopted and quantitative approach was used as a dominant paradigm. Both quantitative and qualitative data were gathered simultaneously during a single phase of data collection. Data was collected through a questionnaire administered to registry personnel from the government ministries, interviews with senior ministerial officials, National Archives personnel from the Records and Archives Management Department (RAMD) and staff from Tanzania Public Service College. The overall response rate from the questionnaire was 67%. An observation checklist was further used to verify data obtained from the questionnaire and interviews. Quantitative data was analyzed using the SPSS statistical package version 15.0 and the results of the study are presented in the form of figures, tables and text, while qualitative data from interviews was content analyzed and in some instances presented in tabular form. The findings of the study indicated that records in some government ministries in Tanzania were not properly managed to foster accountability in the implementation of the PSRP. The study established that although the introduction of the PSRP has resulted in some efforts in reforming records management practices in the government ministries, current records management in the government ministries was still weak, thus fostering accountability in the PSRP would be difficult. The findings of the study revealed a lack of registry mission statements, records management policy and dedicated budgets for registry sections. The majority of government registries in Tanzania lacked records retention schedules and systematic disposal of records resulting in heavy congestion of records and poor retrieval of information. Further, disaster preparedness and security control for records and archives did not form a significant part of the records management activities in the government ministries of Tanzania. On the extent of the use of computer applications in the management of records, the findings indicated the existence of computers in some registries but few computers were used to create records. National Archives and registry personnel faced challenges in the management of electronic records. The study established that National Archives personnel had not undertaken surveys to determine the number of electronic records created in the ministries. The findings of the study showed that although registry personnel received professional records management advice from the National Archives personnel, they did not implement the advice. The findings of the study revealed that the levels of skills and training of registry personnel was relatively low. The majority of registry personnel had not attended courses to update their knowledge and skills. To foster accountability in the public sector, the major recommendation of the study was the restructuring of records management systems. The restructuring should include enacting records management policies in order to accommodate the changes brought about by technology to enhance the proper management of records and effective implementation of the PSRP. The study recommends that government ministries should allocate dedicated budgets for registries. A budget should make provision for registry supplies and equipment and should ensure that registry personnel are provided with formal training in records management so as to develop their levels of skills and training. In order to ensure reliability, integrity, authenticity and long-term preservation of electronic records in support of the requirements of good government and fostering accountability, the study recommended for the integrated approach to records management to be considered in order to incorporate records in both paper and electronic formats. Further, the National Archives should undertake a survey at least annually, to determine the number of electronic records created in the government ministries. It is recommended that the government should update Records and Archives Management Act No.3 of 2002 to reflect the management of electronic records. National Archives should develop records retention and disposition schedules and records should be disposed of regularly in order to create more space for the current records, thus enhancing accountability in the implementation of the PSRP. The study recommends that professional records management advice should be provided on a regular and continuing basis. The National Archives should work closely with the President’s Office-Public Service Management to organize training for senior ministerial officials in order to create awareness regarding the importance of managing records as a strategic resource and its effectiveness in fostering accountability in the implementation of the public service reform programme. The setting up of standards and guidelines on the training of registry personnel is also necessary in order to enhance their status and skills. Enhancing their status and skills would be important for the proper management of records throughout their life cycle to foster accountability in the effective implementation of the PSRP. The study further recommended several issues which could be the subject of further investigation by other researchers in the field, including investigating the current records management practices in Judiciary, Parliament and local government authorities in Tanzania, a study to establish the levels of e-records readiness and e-government in the public sector in Tanzania, and a study to investigate the training of National Archives personnel in order to establish their levels of education and how they impact on the management of records in the government ministries. Furthermore, a study should be conducted to establish the role of records management in addressing corruption, fraud and maladministration in the public sector of Tanzania. A study to assess records management performance in the public sector using international standards such as ISO 15489 Information and Documentation-Records Management, General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD(G)), ISO/DIS 11799 Document Storage Requirements for Archive and Library Materials and ISO 11108: 1996 Information and Documentation-Paper for Archival Documents, is also important.