3.5. The decision makers view of the relevance of records and archives
Fifty five responses were received in reply to the second questionnaire which was distributed to Government Ministries and Departments to obtain information about the use of records and archives in decision making.
The decision makers by and large seemed to value archives. Asked if they felt that archival institutions merited high priority in the allocation of financial and other resources, 34 said yes and eleven said no. Asked if records and archives played a vital role in their decision making process 35 said yes and eight said no. While however the vast majority said the records and archives were important in decision making a different picture emerged when they were asked to estimate the number of times they used records and archives in different age categories for decision making.
The most important point that emerged was that archives are not very much used in decision making. If a generalisation can be made that in most countries records become archives after some 25 or 30 years, then it would seem that really very few decision makers use archives in decision making. The usage statistics were obviously very rough estimates but in those institutions where accurate figures were available, the overall picture was the same.
3.5.1. Nineteen of the respondents positively did not use records and archives between 15 and 25 years of age.
3.5.2. Fifteen of the respondents positively did not use material over 25 years of age.
3.5.3. Eleven of the respondents positively did not use material between 10 and 15 years of age.
3.5.4. In the Land Office of the Ministry of Law in
3.5.5. In the Headquarters of the Ministry of Health in Singapore usage declined from 1200 times per year in the 2 to 5 years category to 240 in the 10 to 15 years category.
3.5.6. In the Ministry of Education in Botswana usage declined from 264 times per year in the 2 to 5 years category to nil in the over 25 years category.
3.5.7. In the Attorney General' s Department in Australia usage declined from 13200 times per year in the 2 to 5 years category, 1200 in the 10 to 15 years category to 100 in the over 25 years category.
3.5.8. In the Department of Social Security in Australia usage declined from 13500 times per year in the 2 to 5 years category to 30 in the 15 to 25 years category.
Asked if they used or considered using records and archives when making decisions on budgets, project and development plans and manpower planning only 32 used the records when making budget submissions, 43 for project and development planning and 31 for manpower planning.
While 25 respondents did not feel that blunders or errors had been committed, projects duplicated unnecessarily or the decision making process hampered as many as 17 felt that this had happened. Although it was found difficult to give specific examples it was pointed out that there was duplication of effort among ministries and departments, that there were cases where surveys were mounted when the data had been collected and already existed in other departments, that court cases had given verdicts at variance with early decisions or without taking cognisance of earlier decisions. Thirty nine of the respondents were making use of records centre and archives facilities and had deposited some of their records.
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