FACS Works To Improve Record-Keeping Compliance

FACS Works To Improve Record-Keeping Compliance

The Department of Family & Community Services (FACS) has begun a pilot of a product more typically used in legal and financial service circles, including the Macquarie Bank, as it strives to achieve an electronic framework for capturing office and email documents.

Information Strategies Manager Tony Mee says FACS is implementing an electronic document management system (EDMS) as a key foundation step towards meeting the Department’s knowledge management agenda.

FACS issued an RFT in October 2002 after extensive consultation with departmental staff and eventually selected Inform Systems’ iManage product as preferred supplier. The pilot will see iManage progressively rolled out to up to 300 departmental staff over the next 12 months.

Mee says the key drivers revolve around improved compliance with record keeping requirements. A September report from the Australian National Audit Office (ANA), entitled Recordkeeping in Large Commonwealth Organisations, highlighted poor record keeping practices by FACS as well as the three other agencies audited: Centrelink; Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry; and the Department of Health and Ageing. It concluded failures in recordkeeping left these agencies exposed to the risk that important data would not be captured and that records might be released or disposed of without authorisation.

Amongst other failings, the ANAO also concluded that there was a significant risk of the non-capture and unauthorised disposal of records because:

— the departments had not sufficiently focussed on the risks associated with recordkeeping, especially those related to outsourced functions;
— were failing to enter all records into formal recordkeeping systems;
— had limited controls over electronic records, especially for those saved to shared network drives or personal workspaces;
— and had failed to put formal, long-term sentencing programs for the disposal of records in place.

Mee says iManage is likely to address many of the recommendations for improved recordkeeping made by ANAO.

“(iManage) should fit fairly well with our needs,” Mee says. “We don’t expect to have to shoehorn it in. There are Australian reference sites: we’ve looked at those, we’ve certainly also looked at other government agency implementations to learn from their experiences, so we’re fairly confident the product is a good fit for what we need to do.

“Probably the attractions for it were that it was competitively priced — obviously that’s important — but also ease of use and high compliance with assistive technology, which is fairly important for an organisation like ours.”

iManage WorkSite combines document management, collaboration, portal access, work flow, business process automation and knowledge management.

The ANAO points out that recordkeeping is a key component of any organisation’s corporate governance and critical to its accountability and performance. A sound appreciation of recordkeeping assists any organisation to satisfy its clients’ needs and also helps it to deal positively with legal and other risks. But sound recordkeeping practices are nowhere more important than in government, and the Commonwealth places significant responsibility for recordkeeping practices on the heads of organisations.

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More about Australian National Audit OfficeAustralian National Audit OfficeCentrelinkDepartment of Agriculture, Fisheries and ForestryDepartment of Family & Community ServicesDepartment of HealthiManageMacquarie BankNational Audit Office

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