Records and information management (RIM) across government is being streamlined under a special RIM programme being implemented by the Jamaica Archives and Records Department (JARD), an agency of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, in collaboration with the Cabinet Office.
All ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) are being targeted under the initiative, which was officially launched in October 2018, following Cabinet’s approval of the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) RIM Policy.
The policy outlines standards for effective records and information management by MDAs through standardisation of their operations, thereby reducing the timeline for retrieval of material being requested by the public.
Acting Principal Director for the Information Division in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Dwayne Cargill, tells JIS News that a key element of the RIM programme is modernisation of the JARD, which is slated to be transformed into the proposed National Archives and Records Management Authority (NARMA),
The other focus areas are modernising the records management legislative and regulatory framework, which is governed by the Archives Act and accompanying Regulations; enhancing human resources and organisational structures for RIM in MDAs; implementation of RIM Standards, including a standardised RIM classification system; and digitisation of records and information and stakeholder capacity building for RIM practitioners/records managers.
The practitioners/records managers vary across MDAs and include directors with overall responsibility for documentation, information and access services; records managers; clerks; officers and registrars.
Mr. Cargill points out that the overall programme is intended to create an integrated, standardised and secure public sector RIM system.
“By this, we will facilitate access to government information and archival material, preserve and leverage Jamaica’s historical heritage and information and cultural assets, as well as enable efficient service delivery, enhanced decision-making and the overall attainment of national development goals,” he outlines.
Mr. Cargill advises that the programmed engagements are at varying stages of execution.
Regarding JARD’s modernisation, he informs that the Public Sector Transformation and Modernisation Division in the Cabinet Office provided financial and technical support to recruit a consultant, who commenced a strategic review of the Department in May.
“That consultancy will define the new organisational structure for JARD as well as the new functional profile in terms of what the agency will actually look like after being modernised,” he informs.
Mr. Cargill says it is proposed that the new agency’s activities will include continuous review of RIM best practices and provide guidelines to MDAs; monitoring MDAs’ compliance with RIM standards and reporting to Parliament on the adherence rate; monetising the national information asset; collaborating with key partners in leading the digitisation of Government records; and supporting the Government’s data-collection and information-sharing programme.
“Thus far, we received a preliminary report, in terms of the new structure proposed for JARD. We should have that structure finalised by the end of the 2020/21 fiscal year in March 2021, and a final report on what the new National Archives and Records Management Authority will look like,” he indicates.
Mr. Cargill also informs that work is under way to implement the standardised RIM system in MDAs, noting that an initial 45 entities, divided into three cohorts, have already been engaged by JARD.
Cohort 1 comprises the Office of the Prime Minister/Cabinet Office and the Ministries of Education, Youth and Information; Labour and Social Security; and Justice, as well as the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), Auditor General’s Department, and JARD.
The second includes the Ministry of Tourism, Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission, HEART/NSTA Trust, Broadcasting Commission, e-Gov Jamaica Limited, Institute of Jamaica (IOJ), Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA), and the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA).
The third cohort is divided into two groups. The first, 3a, comprises the Ministries of Tourism, Economic Growth and Job Creation, and National Security, as well as the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission (BGLC); Court Administration Division; Overseas Examination Commission; e-Learning Jamaica Limited; Private Security Regulatory Authority; Real Estate Board; Department of Correctional Services; Office of the Public Defender; and Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA).
Cohort 3b includes the Ministries of Finance and the Public Service; Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport; Science, Energy and Technology; Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Local Government and Rural Development; Health and Wellness; Agriculture and Fisheries; and Industry, Investment and Commerce.
It also comprises the National Education Trust, Forestry Department, Bureau of Standards Jamaica, Tax Administration Jamaica, and Hazardous Substance Regulatory.
Among the entities’ preparatory and ensuing engagements are establishing a Project Charter that outlines activities to be undertaken and completion timelines; establishment of a RIM Implementation Team; and training of RIM personnel by JARD in the various attendant undertakings and the agency’s assisting with entities’ development of classification systems unique to their operations, in keeping with the Programme’s broader undertaking in this regard.
Senior JARD Records Management Analyst, Krystelle Scott, tells JIS News that work with the first cohort was initially programmed for implementation over five months in 2017.
She notes, however, that the undertaking had to be rescheduled twice due to logistical challenges, and was slated to end in 2019, ahead of the commencement of activities involving cohort two.
That timeline was again pushed back to 2020 and is now scheduled for early 2021 for both groups, largely due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“We realised based on our interactions with them that the classification exercise would have taken much more time to undertake, in terms of hosting workshop training and participants’ grasping and fully understanding the concept. We had to ensure that the training was adequate; so that impacted our timelines significantly,” Ms. Scott explains.
Ms. Scott says based on the programme’s implementation schedule, JARD is looking to engage another 50 MDAs, which will comprise cohort four, by June 2021, and a further 100, comprising cohort five, by June 2022.
“So, we are hoping to have all MDAs on this programme, and work to this end, completed as soon as possible,” she adds.