n Mousaion - An exploration of records management trends in the South African public sector

Volume 27, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



Records management is regarded as one of the pillars of good public management because government activities are based on access to information contained in records. However, despite this crucial role played by records and records management, there is a consensus amongst researchers that many organisations including government departments pay little attention to the management of records. In South Africa, government departments are under legislative obligation to adopt a systematic and organised approach to the management of records. For example, the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act (Act No. 43 of 1996) requires government departments to develop, implement and maintain proper records management systems. This article explores records management trends in the South African public sector to establish if government departments are managing records according to legislative requirements. Data was collected through online questionnaires directed to records managers of all government departments and automatically analysed through an open source survey solution. The key findings of the study revealed that records managers are employed at a low level. The management echelon has also not shown commitment towards, and leadership in, records management in government departments. The article recommends that records management should be included in the balanced scorecards of all employees in government departments. As well, records managers should be appointed on managerial level rather than being designated. The article concludes by arguing that unless senior managers commit themselves to effective implementation of records management policies and strategies in government departments, the problem of service delivery and accountability in South Africa will persist.

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