7.3. Placement of institutions
The operations of an archival institution are determined by its placement. For an archival institution to function effectively it needs to be in a ministry that is in harmony with its activities. a ministry which is able to facilitate the archival operations and which can enforce any requirements over the other ministries. Making comparisons of placings is rather difficult because the designation of ministries differs from country to country and there tends to be different combinations of functions. In logging the responses below the predominant ministry is the one that was considered. Hence while in the responses, Culture and Tourism, Culture and Sports, Youth, Sports and Culture were mentioned, Culture was taken as the predominant ministerial element under which the institution fell.
It is significant that so many institutions should be under the Ministries of Culture or Education. To a certain extent this placement has historical roots where archives were considered as a cultural activity because of their place in history and historical research. There is no question that archives still have a paramount value as a component of a nation's cultural heritage but archives are increasingly becoming the by-product of a long process in which other considerations are more paramount. The involvement of archival institutions in the management of current and semi-current records is increasing and gradually taking up a great deal of the energies and resources of many institutions. This involvement is making it necessary to reconsider the placement of archival institutions and to demand their transfer from culturally oriented ministries. The number of archival institutions that fall directly under the President or Prime Minister is relatively high supporting this gradual shift to a position where archival institutions need the backing of the highest authority in order to carry out their mandate and to be seen to be above or across the government service organisation rather than just be seen as a segment or component of one ministry only. Where, for instance, the archival institution falls under the Ministry of Arts, and even Fine Arts for that matter, other ministries cannot see the relevance when the archival institution seeks access to their records and tries to impose controls for the better management of the records.
While sixty of the institutions were satisfied with their placement and only nine were not, it is perhaps time to seriously review the placement of archival institutions. As long as archival institutions continue to be identified primarily as cultural organs then they will in the competition for the allocation of scarce resources continue to be given the low priority that cultural activities generally receive. It is not accidental that nineteen of the institutions felt that they received low budget priority. Significant also was that five institutions felt that they had insufficient legal authority, that their placement was wrong' that their budget allocation was unfavourable and that they had low priority. These were the National Library and Archives Service of Ethiopia, the Brunei National Archives, the Provincial archives of Alberta in Canada, the National Archives Division of Trinidad and Tobago and the National Archives of Zambia. Those that indicated that placement was wrong generally wanted to be placed under a ministry or agency with government wide responsibility. In this respect perhaps the Australian Archives that fall under the Ministry of Administrative Services would provide a useful example as does the National Archives and Records Administration of the United States of America which is an independent agency in the Executive Branch of the Government.
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