3.6. Decision making
Before examining records management and archives concepts as they relate to decision makers it is also necessary to look at the decision making process in order to identify the information that is needed.
It is basic knowledge that there are many governmental systems in the world ranging from countries that are run by Monarchies to those that are under Prime Ministers or Executive Presidents. While one can talk of democracies, autocracies, dictatorships, capitalism, socialism and communism each of these concepts has its own variations and peculiarities that make generalisation difficult and unwise. Within these confines however it is still possible to isolate certain common features.
In virtually all cases there will be on one hand the rulers and the political figures who wield power, make the decisions and strive in one way or another to fulfil the wishes of the governed. There will also on the other hand be the bureaucracy or civil service, the relatively permanent and stable corp of workers that is there to execute the policies and wishes of the rulers. The relationship between the two groups will of course differ from country to country, region to region and from continent to continent but at the end of it all records and archives are being produced and used whatever the system.
There is generally a mechanism for the formulation of the rules, regulations and laws that must guide and govern the conduct of the citizens or the ruled. These will be formulated in fore such as Parliaments where the civil servants still play an important role in the formulation of policy, in researching and designing programmes and in providing answers to the plethora of questions that may be raised. In the Western World the role of the civil servant in decision making is best exemplified by the comedy "Yes Minister".
The politicians or rulers usually have core groupings that meet to decide on important issues. Whether these bodies are referred to as Politburo or Cabinet nevertheless the civil servants provide a back-up service by providing the information that is required in the making of decisions.
The decisions are made at different levels of the organisation It is fairly obvious that the lower down the organisation one goes the lower the level of decision that must be made and in reverse, the higher that one goes the higher the level of decision. irrespective of the level however information will be required in one way or another. The births registration clerk will need proof of date of birth and parentage in order to issue a birth certificate. A doctor in a hospital will need certain information in order to decide on the illness and prescribe requisite medication. The immigration officer will need information in order to issue a passport or grant a visa. The senior economists in the Ministry of Finance will require certain information to produce the short, medium and long term economic plans for the country. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry will require certain information in order to prepare his Minister for the Cabinet meeting or to address a certain forum. In all spheres of activity decisions are being made about the allocation of budgetary resources, the prioritisation of programmes, the granting of social benefits, the opening of new mines, the closure of unproductive ventures, the information to release to the public or the level of classification that certain information requires.
Records and archives provide the information that is required by those who make the decisions. The question only is whether these records are available to these decision makers and whether the decision makers are aware of their existence and thus make use of them when making decisions.
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