Recordkeeping for Good Governance Toolkit Training in Ghana

Report On Workshop: Recordkeeping For Good Governance Toolkit Held In Accra, Ghana

In May 2011, Mark Crookston and Anna Gulbransen were fortunate enough to be asked to facilitate a training session on the PARBICA Recordkeeping for Good Governance Toolkit in Accra, Ghana.

The training workshop was funded by the International Council on Archives, through FIDA (Fund for the International Development of Archives) funding after a request from staff at the Public Records and Archives Administration in Ghana. Christine Martinez Deputy Secretary-General for the International Council on Archives joined us on the training workshop as she is leading the work to translate the toolkit into French.

The training was attended by representatives from five West African countries, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cameroon and The Gambia. Mrs. Bridget Katsriku, Chairman of the Public Services Commission in Ghana provided the opening address.

Effective records management, facilitate the achievement of transparency and accountability in public administration...

Research findings clearly show that many developing countries such as ours have severe record management challenges. As a result, effectiveness in public administration is directly undermined in a number of ways: the administration of justice is greatly compromised and government revenue cannot be fully collected because the records on which their calculations must be based are not comprehensive enough, or were never created at all.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in an environment in which records are poorly kept accountability is practically impossible, leading to poor governance. We, in the public service, on daily basis make decisions that relate to the provision of services. Rationale decision–making depends on credible and reliable records. Where records are disorganized, missing or lost, we are likely to make poor decisions, and sometimes delayed decisions. Our citizens are denied the benefit of quality decisions and therefore quality services. When citizens cannot get prompt services from public offices because the relevant records are missing or lost, or when the records in question have been intentionally hidden by some public servants, the citizens will be tempted to bribe so that somebody will “search” for them. Improper records management therefore, promotes corruption and I am sure we are all aware of it and it can easily be said that well-kept records are the greatest enemy to corruption.

Mrs. Katsriku's speech clearly articulated the many problems associated with poor records management and delivered the participants with a very clear direction to work to improve the state of recordkeeping in West Africa.

Mark and Anna were tasked with providing West African archivists with an overview of what the toolkit contains and facilitating discussion about how the toolkit might work in a West African context.

During the four day workshop, Mark and Anna walked through the toolkit products looking at what the products cover and how they could be applied in the African context. They spent quite a bit of time looking at the Model Recordkeeping Policy and the Appraisal Guidance as these were key areas of concern for the West African archivists. There was a fantastic session on the model policy with the participants having heated discussions about how the policy may need to be modified to work in their context. None of the countries in attendance had a formal government wide policy in place but all agreed that the model policy in the toolkit provided a great platform to build on. Anna and Mark are hopeful that they will see traction in this area in the near future.

Dealing with the paper back log seems to be a universal challenge. A session similar to one ran during the development of the toolkit products asking the participants to list the reasons you would keep something forever and the reasons why you would get rid of something. The participants gave some fantastic answers as well as some hotly debated answers, including that some people will destroy records to get themselves out of trouble! It was a great debate to have and participants all agreed that guideline 10 would be very helpful for providing a robust framework for undertaking appraisal.

In fact, the Ghanaian Public Records and Archives Administration are already using the criteria for permanent retention or disposal (in guideline 10) in the government semi-current records store. The Ghanaian semi-current records store is the largest in sub-Saharan Africa; it was great to see the toolkit products in action on such a big scale.

The final afternoon of the workshop included a session on strategies for implementing the learning from the workshop. As a result, participants agreed the following actions.

National Recordkeeping Policies

  • The members of the workshop agree to work to develop and implement national recordkeeping policies for their countries.
  • The toolkit model recordkeeping policy provides a good model that we will adapt to make work for our needs.

Developing a network in West Africa

  • The members of the workshop agree to work collaboratively, using WARBICA, with their regional colleagues to develop regional solutions to regional issues for example legislative issues, and developing digital recordkeeping capacities.

Working with Strategic Partners

  • The members of the workshop agree to work with their strategic partners, including Auditors General, Attorney Generals, Ombudsmen, IT Professionals, Public Service leaders, ICA and other stakeholders to support the aims of recordkeeping for good governance.

The PARBICA toolkit

  • The members of the workshop recognise that the PARBICA toolkit provides a good model for Recordkeeping for Good Governance in West Africa.
  • The members of the workshop agree to use the relevant guidelines of the PARBICA toolkit, adopting and adapting the guidelines to make them relevant to their country or situation.

On the final day of the workshop international delegates visited to Ministries and the offices of PRAAD to observe recordkeeping practices in a Ghanaian context. The visits were very rewarding and highlighted that recordkeeping challenges are the same the world over.

The toolkit began in the Pacific as a regional solution to regional issues – but the increasing international attention being paid to the toolkit is highlighting that despite slight regional differences, the core issues are the same across many regions and the toolkit provides a great base to build on. The toolkit is a great achievement for PARBICA and everyone involved should feel proud of their accomplishments.

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