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Columnists

LETTERS: Accurate record keeping key to accountability

Poor record keeping. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Poor record keeping. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently outlined his economic plan, which is expected to shape his administration over the next five years.

One of the highlights of his speech focused on strengthening fiscal discipline and accountability at both the national and county levels in a bid to improve revenue utilization, seal revenue loss and curb corruption.

A good starting point in establishing a more efficient and accountable government will be in allocating more resources to information communication technologies (ICTs).

ICT has been used by the government to modernise administration and to deliver some services. It is now beginning to transform governments’ relationships with citizens.

While, quality customer service, performance of tasks, and measurable outcomes are increasingly important responsibilities, a majority of government departments and agencies, still continue to struggle as record-keeping systems are unable to cope with the growing mass of unmanaged records.

The loss of control of records has consequences for all citizens, especially for the vulnerable who are least able to defend themselves. It is important to acknowledge the fact that most vulnerable groups often lack information vital to their lives such as information on basic public services.

The problem is further compounded by the unavailability of accurate records which negatively affects the delivery and output of public servants.

The absence of organised records creates opportunities for fraud, leads to haemorrhage of revenue, and impedes fiscal planning as inadequate record keeping systems make it virtually impossible to determine responsibility for actions and to hold individuals accountable.

Well managed records today provide a cost-effective deterrent to fraud and corruption. They can serve as evidence to identify abuse, misuse, and non-compliance with financial instructions and other laws and regulations.

Without well-managed records, anti-corruption strategies are largely weakened. Modern Document Management Solutions can help the government interact with the public faster, uniformly and clearly.

They also contribute to a more candid government, removing much of the human influence from the service delivery process. Aside from the potential increase in efficiency, the government stands to benefit from increased transparency, reduced perception of regulatory prejudice and lower administrative costs.

Relevant and accurate public records are essential to preserving the rule of law and demonstrating fair, equal, and consistent treatment of citizens.

Without access to records, the public does not have the evidence needed to hold public officials accountable or to insist on the prosecution of corruption and fraud. With standardised document management processes, the public sector can serve constituents with speed and quality.

For example, automated workflows can help government offices identify delays and eliminate bottlenecks when communicating across teams or when routing documents across various government agencies.

By introducing modern document management processes, government agencies can mitigate the chaos that comes with working across departments.

We need to introduce new polices that allow government institutions to develop a programme for the co-ordination of information management and information technology programs, ensuring compatibility across government, between data and records and the technologies used to create and manage them.

Moreover, there is a need to create mechanisms for the care of records in all media (including electronic records) and archival of records. We need to preserve public records in such a manner that they will be legally admissible as evidence in a court of law.

To this end, I hold the opinion that a policy may need to be developed to ensure that all government agencies recognise the role of the records and archives departments in the protection of records for posterity.

By implementing a modern document management solution, government departments will be able to spend less time handling paper and start spending more time on service delivery. This will ultimately result in a more efficient and accountable government.

Tony Olang, head of LASER Infrastructure & Technology Solutions (LITES), a subsidiary of CPF Financial Services.

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