File mangement

Date: 7 Nov 2003

Aims and Objectives

Streamlining and consolidation of corporate support services and management of files and document to facilitate effective and efficient front-line service delivery is one of the big challenges facing many government departments. The aims and objectives of the learning session is to share and exchange experiences on: best practices on shared corporate and other joint back office support services effective file and document management system


1.Gauteng Shared Service Centre - Ms. Athene van Mazijk

The shared corporate services was premised on a consitutional mandate in search of what was inhibiting service delivery in Gauteng. Findings of a functional audit carried out in 1998 revealed that there were lots of duplication, resources were not being optimised, disproportionate allocation of resources and skills, etc. Decision was taken to implement a shared corporate service centre. Athene indicated that Shared service centre is best of centralisation and decentralisation, and she mentioned the pros and cons of each. The centre offers five core corporate services. The centre offers services at a competitive cost advantage, using enabling technologies, ensuring accurate information for decision making, supporting leadership in professional support areas, and capturing the economies of scale. This is a transformation process, and relies very much on zeal, enthusiasm, creativity and innovation of people. There is a document management centre which it is anticipated will handle about 1,600 000 documents per year. More than R4bn goods to be procured per annum by the centre. A lot of lessons have been learned in the past few years of the Centre's conceptualisation and existence, and those include the need for political support; acknowledging risks and need to exercise caution; doing benchmarking well; having vision as the driving force all the time; and develop a business model and case that will work.

Issues raised:

  • Service Level Agreements SLAs with departments - it was stated that yes SLAs do exist Benchmarking - yes benchmarking has been done
  • Is service provision costed - the plan is to charge client departments over time.
  • Consultant support - yes initially, but over time in-house consultant capacity is being built.

2. Back-office support in Eastern Cape- Mr. Ian Assam

The back-office project is linked to other transversal projects to turn service delivery in the province around. Project is made of two phases, viz. scoping and then comprehensive support through service level agreements. Ten functional areas have been identified for back-office support, and both joint and departmental specific project delivery teams have been set up. The project idea is based on premise that some level of centralisation is need to be established for control and efficiencies, and insourcing that is limited outsourcing and not total outsourcing. After two years consultants will move out, having transferred skills.

3.Eastern Cape social development electronic file management system - Mr. Mark Rasmussen

The problem found in the department was loss of file and documents, and unreliable and incomplete checks and control over file movements, resulting in delays and fraud and litigation cases against the department. Electronic capturing and management of the files/documents was devised as a solution.

Logistical requirements included transport, storage, equipment, personnel and security. The project involved a very detailed and intense logistical arrangements of appropriately packing in boxes and securely transporting all files from all 24 districts to one big warehouse in East London. It also involved getting the necessary IT infrastructure and system security, and other working tools and materials to do the job of capturing and electronically recording everything.

Personnel employed for the project, totalling about 800, worked two shifts a day. Processing of information involved a very detailed process of filing according to district, checking and validation to ensure correctness and authenticity of information. Processing included activating files and archiving them as well. The project went on very smoothly, and the target of 45 000 completed files a day was exceeded to 60 000.

There is now an electronic file register database. The way forward include linking this to the management information system MIS to ensure work flow monitoring, tracking of data, and ultimately ensuring a functional registry system.

Records Audit of Eastern Cape Health and Public Works departments - Mr Selelepoo Sebaka, National Archives The aim of the audit was to highlight records problems in the province and sensitise HODs on records management issues, through interviews with relevant's parties and visits to department sites. Major findings was that there was lack of senior management support; records managers were at assistant director levels; there existed no records management policy/guidelines, amongst others. Essentially it was found that in the two departments there were dysfunctional registry system, and electronic records were not managed well. With regards to provincial archives service, the problem is that there is no legislation and archives are ignored by department and their supposed transversal and central role are ignored by departments. They found the social grants project see previous presentation above as a model of excellence.

The team recommended that DGs commit their HODs to record management capacity building project; that provincial archivist be appointed to at least director level and department al records managers be appointed at senior management levels; and commitment of top management to sound records management practices.

Key Discussion Issues

Buy-in, support and sensitising of provinces and provincial DGs in particular on the importance of records and documents management Developing standards performance and compliance and benchmarks Funding and support work of provincial archives by departments Location of records management and archives: because it is a transversal function should it not be relocated to Premier's office? Level of records managers, mostly assistant directors and as such have no clout and influence Legislation, ensuring enforcement and compliance on records managements

4. Way Forward

Action Responsible person/s
The learning group/network will exchange ideas and develop proposed file standards and indicators which could be used to assess the adequacy of existing system and their applicability by applying them in departments Louisa Venter
Discuss feedback on the application of indicators/standards and agree on them in the February 2004 workshop Learning network
Propose a monitoring and evaluation mechanism Learning network
Need to do environmental scanning as different provinces are at different levels of progress with regards to their file/records management Learning network
Sensitize provincial DGs in a session Learning network
Look for centres of excellence on file/records management and learn from them Learning network
An e-mail/address list of the participant members of the network to be compiled and encourage others to join network Bongani Matomela
Convene a workshop in February 2004 Bongani Matomela


Last update: 31 August 2011

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