Good Records – Good Governance: Advice for Senior Government Officials
Your responsibilities for good governance
As a senior government official, you are responsible for making sure that your organisation applies the principles of good governance.
Governance is the way an organisation arranges its processes and structures so that it can make decisions, carry out its work and monitor its progress.
Good governance means making sure that your office or agency is organised and does its work in a way that is efficient and accountable, and complies with laws and regulations.
Meeting your responsibility for efficiency
You are responsible for making sure that staff in your organisation use information efficiently.
Using information is a cycle. You need accurate information to help you to make good decisions. Once you have made a decision, you can take the right action. Information about the action you have taken is important to help you make your next decision.
If you cannot quickly find the right information about your previous decisions and actions, your next decision could be too late, or even the wrong one.
Keeping good records helps you to organise the information you have about your actions and decisions.
Good recordkeeping is important for meeting your responsibility to protect the government’s interests
You are responsible for protecting your government’s interests.
Having good records can help to do this by proving that you have taken a certain action or complied with a particular law.
- if you cannot prove your department has paid a bill, you may have to pay it again
- if you cannot prove that the government owns some land or a building, you may not be able to stop someone else from claiming they own it
- if you cannot prove that your department has spent its money fairly and wisely, donors may be reluctant to provide further funds
- if you cannot prove what you agreed to do in a contract, you may be accused of not doing what you promised to do.
Keeping good records helps to protect the government by proving what action it has taken.
Recordkeeping is important for meeting your responsibility to protect the community’s interests
You are responsible for protecting your community’s interests.
Records should document your dealings with external parties, such as individuals, community organisations, contractors and other governments. Failing to keep good records can have a serious impact on others.
- If a hospital cannot find a patient’s records in an emergency, they could receive the wrong treatment—they could even die
- If you lose an invoice from a supplier and do not pay your bills, the supplier might go broke, or refuse to deal with you in the future
- If you do not keep records of land sales, developers might make agreements with people who do not own the land
- Keeping good records helps to protect the whole community by protecting the information that the government has about other people.
Where to get help
It is your responsibility to ensure that your organisation is keeping good records. Employing a senior, well-qualified records manager within your organisation can give you a ready source of advice on the best way to manage the records of your organisation’s business.
If you are not sure where to find help locally, the Pacific Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives (PARBICA) can point you in the right direction. PARBICA has existed since 1981, and aims to share information about archives and records management throughout the Pacific.