Friday, 25 November 2011

Comments on LAC 2010-2011 Departmental Performance Report - III

The first of four program activities at Library and Archives Canada is Managing the disposition of the Government of Canada (GC) records of continuing value.

Expenditures for this program activity of $10.5M exceeded authorities of $7.3M by 44%.

While expenditures decreased by 7% from the previous year. That was a smaller decrease than the 9% for LAC overall.

Human resources employed for this program activity were 189 FTEs, 17% above the planned level.

What did our tax dollars buy?

The expected result was "Relevant GC information is managed by federal institutions in a manner that is coherent and that demonstrates accountability to support the rights, obligations and privileges of Canadians."

More specifically LAC conducted "Recordkeeping training, awareness building, support and guidance activities" and "support(ed) the Assistant Deputy Minister Task Force on the Future of Federal Library Service."

The performance indicator was the "Proportion of institutions that receives or maintains an “acceptable” or “strong” in the information management report card."

LAC considered it exceeded the standard, but the document is silent on what had to be done to attain that standard.

Under the heading Lessons Learned we read that "our lessons learned concerned the necessity to engage and collaborate with federal departments and agencies." Nothing startling there -- perhaps a lesson LAC will one day learn regarding its client relations.

Not explicitly in this document, but in the corresponding section of the departmental Report on Plans and Priorities for 2011-2012, is this section:

Benefits for Canadians
Implementation of the new recordkeeping regime across the Government of Canada will allow Canadians to exercise their rights as citizens to have access to government records of business or archival value.
A focus on retaining only records of business or archival value and the use of digital tools will facilitate preservation and resource discovery of the records that are retained, enabling timely responses to access to information and privacy requests under Program Activity 1.3.
The commitment to store only records of ongoing business or archival value will enable federal institutions, including LAC, to control document storage conditions and costs.

This begs the question as to which records are of business or archival value? In days gone by we have already experienced cases where an archivist did not see value in records that were of value to the family historian. Will the updated regime be more or less likely to retain such records?

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