Introduction

Welcome to my Weblog. This site is dedicated to my thoughts, views and understanding on anything that touches upon records management, archives management as well as information management in Malaysia. I believe in becoming a 'functional and meaningful' information professional, the term I refer to as person who can function in many ways possible for the betterment of this discipline. Interested parties, may reproduce or quote materials published with the condition that they are credited to alwiyunus.blogspot.com Comments must be accompanied by names or pseudonyms. Anonymous postings and those containing profanities and obscenities will be rejected. http://adf.ly/8Y1UN

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Records Management: a career perspective

CAREER OF RECORD MANAGER : FROM MALAYSIA PERSPECTIVES

BY ALWI MOHD YUNUS

Abstract

Government departments and other organizations create and receive records in the

course of their business transactions. They are responsible for managing their

information in a way that allows them to conduct agency business; ensure agency and

government accountability; protect the rights of all stakeholders, including the public;

and identify records with archival value. Organizations now face the phenomenal

explosion of records due to the increase in economics, and social activities. This

problem has been compounded by the shift to electronic systems or e-government,

which results in the increasing amount and proliferation of electronic records. There is a

keen interest in the records management discipline and records management as a

career in Malaysia now than ever, which has paved the way for more discussions,

renewed policies and Government undertakings in the discipline as well as its

implementation in government agencies. Records Manager is a new, emerging career

in Malaysian administrative system. It is the job of the records manager to provide

efficient access to the right information to support decision making, for operational

purposes, as evidence of policies and activities and for litigation support, meet legal

obligations for the creation and retention of paper and electronic records, maintain

operational efficiency by controlling the volume of records created and stored identify

those records to be preserved for historical and research purposes and eliminate the

rest as early as possible.

Keywords; records manager, archivist, administrative structure, records management,

archive management, government agency2

1. Introduction

Every day we are bombarded with information. It comes to us via the mail, over

telephone lines and across computer networks. If we are to put it to good use it

must be organized in some ways. It is the job of the records manager to provide

efficient access to the right information to support decision making, for

operational purposes, as evidence of policies and activities and for litigation

support, meet legal obligations for the creation and retention of paper and

electronic records, maintain operational efficiency by controlling the volume of

records created and stored, identify those records to be preserved for historical

and research purposes and eliminate the rest as early as possible.

Mismanagement of these records affects, not only the effectiveness of the

administrative machinery but also may lead to their irrecoverable loss of the

nation’s history. At this critical juncture, the need for qualified records managers,

supported by trained personnel is regarded as crucial.

“Records are the memory of agencies’ activities, the asset that must be

managed systematically so that it can be fully utilized. Records

management program can only be effectively implemented with the

training of the qualified records managers.” 

Raja Abdullah Yaacob

Records managers achieve these goals in many ways, including; designing

systems, analyzing business processes, designing business classification

schemes, undertaking records surveys, establishing retention schedules,

designing and running record centers and devising business continuity policies.

They are dynamic professionals, interacting with senior managers in their

organizations to improve efficiency and to help ensure the preservation of the

archives of the future. 

2. Background

Malaysia gained its independence since 1957. The rapid economic development

has led to the creation of new government ministries and departments and the

mushrooming of agencies. The same scenario occurs in the private sectors with

the increase industrial activities and investments activities. In the last 47 years,

the amount of the nation records that were created is phenomenal. As stipulated

in the National Archives act 1966 and Amended in 2003, government

departments must be involved in:

• Effective records management

• Efficient record keeping

• Ensure safekeeping of national heritage

• Disposition of records for final archive management

3. The skills

Records managers need to be multi skilled in term of being:

confident communicators: records managers deal with colleagues from all

backgrounds, from the Managing Director/Chief Executive/Top Officials,

Policy Makers down. They also have to contact suppliers, contractors and

outside organizations.

good negotiators: it is not always easy to persuade senior colleagues to hand

over 'their' records, or to agree to a retention period/destruction date for a

record they wish to preserve forever.

analytical thinkers: records managers need to understand how their

organization works to be capable of constructing systems that are integrated

with business processes and organizational culture

flexible: records managers are often expected to turn their hand to anything

remotely connected with the provision of information. 4

comfortable with new technology: there is a need to demonstrate the ability to

use and adapt to rapidly evolving ICT (Information Communication

Technology) packages and systems

4. Job description

A records manager is responsible for the effective and appropriate management

of an organization's records. Records management professionals are employed

in a wide range of roles. The job increasingly involves advising on records

management issues, as well as undertaking practical and strategic activities. The

role is developing in scope because there is an increased understanding of the

value of effective knowledge and information management, particularly in the

corporate sector.

Effective records management requires an organization-wide commitment to

planning, implementing, overseeing, and participating in the records

management program. To achieve this, members of organization with a range of

records management–related roles and skills must support the effort. 

5. Competencies

The Records Manager generally provides expertise in records management,

constituting knowledge areas of:

• Records Creation and Use

• Active and Inactive Records Systems

• Records Appraisal, Retention and Disposition

• Vital Records Identification and Protection

• Records and Information Management Technology

The Records Manager may also have subject matter expertise in: 5

Law

Privacy and Data Protection

IT and Electronic Storage Systems

General Business Principles

6. The market

As a records manager one could find oneself working in local or central

government, for a company (which might be a multinational), in education, in a

museum or gallery, or for a charitable organization. Legislative developments,

including the National Archive Act 2003, Pekeliling Kerajaan, and other acts and

policies be it from government or the organization itself, have created substantial

demand from employers for qualified records managers.

In the United States of America, a Records Manager in nuclear power plants

specialize in compliance with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules

regarding the handling of nuclear materials. It is to say that, Records Manager is

well verse with the situational context of the organization needs with regards to

legal and policies established.

In Malaysian case, there is also an emerging demand from health care,

pharmaceutical and legal industry for medical records officer, legal records officer

and document controller as it is called in business and private organizations.

Organizations like Mahkota Medical Center, Pantai Medical Center at Kuala

Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Batu Pahat, Ayer Keroh, and other private medical centers

in the country, have already requested and employed Medical Records Officer

(MRO) whom has background in medical records management, records

management and ICD-10 skills. 

In other private sectors for instance service sectors, there are also increasing

demand for records officer and records executive. In as much, the demands from 6

other private industries to fulfill the position of Document Controller, a job

similarly associated with records management job are increasing. Some of the

jobs may not be directly named after records management but clearly from the

job scope; it is records management job. Among the job offerings for instance

are;

• Corporate Data and Resource Management Executive-Inai Kiara Sdn

Bhd.

• Document Controller at Carigali- PTTEPI Operating Company Sdn.

Bhd.(CPOC)

• Head of Department, Medical Records-Pantai Hospital Sg. Petani

• General Administration officer.

• Data Management Executive

7. Career Advancement, Professional and Skill Enrichment

The National Archives Act 2003 and other legislations are clear indication that

records management must be taken seriously. Some of the legislations are legal

binding associated with systematic records management of public records. The

following act and circulars revealed the seriousness on the parts of the authority

for public agencies to take good care of their records:

• National Archives Act, 1966, amended 2003 

• Arahan Perbendaharaan No.150 (tempoh minimum bagi menyimpan buku

akaun dan rekod kewangan). 

• Surat Pekeliling Am Bil. 1 Tahun 1997 (Peraturan pemeliharaan rekodrekod kerajaan) 

• General Circular No 1/1970 (requires all government departments to send

one copy of department official report to the Director General of National

Archives within one month). 7

• General Order Chapter 3 (letter writing and recording of outgoing letters in

a register book).General Order Chapter 4 (File classification open, limited,

confidential, secret, top secret file registration and maintenance, file

distribution, KIV file, and file preservation) General Order Chapter 5 (

preserving government records, role of National archives, role of records

officer, and preserving records).Treasury Instruction (instruction to get

approval from Auditor General and Accountant General to dispose book

accounts which are already obsolete).

8. Efficiency and Economy (2Es)

The two Es is concerned with achieving economy of space and the efficiency in

the creation, maintenance, use and disposal of the records of an organization.

Unfortunately, the lack of qualified records managers makes it difficult to

implement this concept.

What is inherent in most departments is the absence of fully trained records

managers who can handle the records management responsibilities. Records

manager is responsible in establishing the records management program in

compliance with the legal legislations, organization’s procedures and the

standards in records management. This role is taken over by other general

personnel, resulting in the inconsistencies in the records creation and

maintenance but more importantly, the absence of the disposition activities,

which is the final phase in the records evolution. Such situation may lead to the

loss of records while in the past led to the migration of the records and archives.

Many people come into records management from disciplines such as scientific

research, financial and retail management and the civil service. Many people

also enter records management from an archives background, as members of

both professions have a shared interest in the value of information and its uses. 8

9. Continuing Professional Education

Continuing Professional Education or CPD is now a feature of working life and as

part of human capital development in Malaysia. Therefore there is a need to

prepare people for a new lifetime learning environment. Because of the diversity

of and diffusion of records management activity, from the beginning till the end of

the records, there is an urgent need for CPD to be established and practiced.

This is to prepare for the career advancement of records management

practitioners to pursue professional education and offering them to embrace new

knowledge and pursuing after job engagement in private sectors or even in

government sectors. 

10. Training Programme

History

Malaysia has always associated herself with her former colonial masters even in

the earlier development of its national archives and the training of its personnel. 

Earlier personnel were trained in Great Britain at the postgraduate level, either at

the certificate or the diploma level. Later on the staffs were also sent to Australia

and India for similar training. It was only at the later stage that the staffs were

given higher level training scheme, leading to master degree in both local and

foreign universities. So far the National Archive of Malaysia has played the

pivotal role in providing training programme for the public sectors personnel in

Malaysia in records management. Other institutions which are involved, include

MAMPU and INTAN.

11. Training of Records Professionals-International level

Training at every level can be acquired in many higher institutions in Great

Britain, United States, Australia and others. Most of the universities offer 9

programs at the master’s level. There are also a number of well known

professional organizations in records management that offers training programs.

12. Association of Records Managers and Administration (ARMA)

ARMA is an international organization of over 10,000 members and 150 chapters

in more than 30 countries worldwide. It gained its chartership in May 27, 1964. It

was established with the goal advancement in the area of records management

discipline and profession. It also aims at promoting research, education, training

and networking in the profession of records and information management. 

Finally it also helps promote cooperation activities and smart partnerships with

related professional groups. Some of the professional activities that take place

are seminars and meetings, forums for information exchange, and the eventual

construction of a network of professional friends and contacts. ARMA also has an

educational program, which is designed to provide students with a certified set of

skills.

The Institute of Certified Records Managers (ICRM) is another international

certifying organization for professional records and information mangers.

Incorporated in 1975, it was established to maintain a standard for practicing

records management is accredited. Those wishing to acquire such certification

may take up examination leading to certified Records Managers.

At the university level many universities provides the master program in records

management. The Curtin University for example, offers the following courses:

• Bachelor of Arts (Library and Corporate Information Management)

• Graduate Certificate in Records Management 

• Graduate Diploma in Records Management and Archives 

• Master of Applied Science (Information Management) - Records

Management and Archives stream 

Edith Cowan University offers the following courses: 10

• Executive Certificate in Records Management - this course provides an

alternative entry opportunity for students who do not have an

undergraduate degree and are therefore not eligible for admission to either

the Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma

• Graduate Certificate in Information Services - this course constitutes a first

award in record keeping studies at graduate level

• Graduate Diploma of Science (Information Services) - Archives and

Records Stream - this one year course, accredited by the Australian

Society of Archivists (ASA) and Records Management Association of

Australia (RMAA) requires a three year undergraduate degree as the

minimum entrance requirement

• Master of Information Services (Archives and Records Stream) 

Monash University offers a Master of Information Management and Systems

(MIMS) degree course with a specialization in record keeping. This program of

study is recognized by both the Records Management Association of Australia

(RMAA) and the Australian Society of Archivists (ASA). Graduate diploma and

graduate certificate programs in record keeping are also available and PhD

programs are offered. 

Similar programs are also provided in universities in United Kingdom and USA.

Most national archives of the world are active in the training programs in all

level of records management. This include The National Archives and

Records Administration (NARA) which is responsible for providing guidance

and assistance to Federal agencies in order to ensure that they carry out these

important records management responsibilities. 

13. Faculty of Information Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM)

The Faculty of Information Management has been pioneering in the area of

records management in Malaysia. The subject as an elective was first offered in 11

1973. It was not until 1996 that full-fledged undergraduate and master level

programs were offered. The undergraduate program is known as the Bsc in

Information Studies (Records Management), while the master’s program in Msc.

Information Management allows students to specialize in Records Management. 

While certain courses/subjects offered include those regarded as compulsory at

the university and faculty level, the undergraduate professional programs allow

students to specialize in records management as early as the first semester

through the final sixth semester as shown below. This program is blessed with

numerous qualified faculty members in the area of records management,

electronic records management legal and medical records, oral history and

preservation. The cooperation and assistance from the National Archives of

Malaysia has been ongoing and close association with other universities and

industries has been an asset to the program.

With regards to the evolution of records; creation, use, maintenance and

disposition, what has been the most crucial is the preservation of the recorded

memory/history so that it can be referred to in the future and the nation’s history.

Along the three basic principles, students are also trained in the following

aspects of the working with the records and eventually archives. They are:

• Communication

• Identification

• Selection

• Acquisition

• Organisation

• Description

• Storage

• Retrieval preservation

• Analysis

• Interpretation

• Evaluation

• Synthesis

• Dissemination

• Management

The curriculum:

• Fosters development of records and archive managers who will assume

an assertive role in preserving and servicing the records and archives

• Emphasizes as evolving body of knowledge that reflects the findings of

basic and applied research from relevant fields

• Integrates the theory, application and use of ICT

• Responds to the needs of a rapidly changing technological and global

society 12

• Provides direction for future development of the field

• Promotes commitment to continuous professional growth

Foundation of Information and Communication Technology

Foundation to Information Management

Introduction to Reference and Information Sources

Management of Internet Resources and Services

Organization of Information

Managing Records in Organization Managing Automated

Records System

Functional Design of Records Centre Controlling and

Appraising Records

Development of Automated Records System Planning and Design of Records

and Archival Repositories 

Preservation of Archival Material Management of Audio Visual

Records and Archives

Research in Records and Archives Management of Cartographic and

Photographic Records

Management of Electronic Records

Management of Business Records

Document Imaging System

-Choose One Only-

Document Oral Tradition

Mgt of Medical records

Mgt of Legal Records

Mgt of Engineering Records

Mgt of Architecture Records

Mgt of Manuscript and Personal Paper

Islamic Information Management

Information Marketing for

Records Centre and Archives 

Administrative History 

Independent study

Figure 1: The Records Management Courses in BSc In Information Management (Records

Management) 13

List of Specialization in MSc. In Information Management:

1) Records Management

2) Electronic Records Management

3) Internship in Records Management

4) Directed Reading in Records Management

5) Theses in Records Management and Archives

Figure 3: Specialization in Records Management in the Msc in Information

Management, UiTM

The objectives of the two programs are as follows:

1

• To create expertise and skilled manpower, qualified in the management of

records and archives

• To produce professionals who are creative and proactive, competitive and high

caliber in records and archives management

• To plan, provide and apply effectively academic courses that is of high quality

and world class

• To ensure that the program maintain the professional status continuously by the

public and private sectors

• To create the centre of excellence and expertise in the records and archive

management.

14. Recommendations

Consequently, the priorities should be in establishing records and archives

management in Malaysia. It is highly recommended that more concerted effort



UiTM. Faculty of Information Management: Handbook. (Shah Alam: FPM, 2004):2. 14

should be given to the training of records managers. Priorities should also be given

to the provision of the right records management position the government

organizations. This will reduce the problem of mismatching in the employment of

the personnel responsible for records management, including electronic records

management. This may mean the creation of new jobs dedicated entirely to the

records management responsibilities. In addition to that it is also important for

agencies to: 

1. Uphold the 2Es of records management

a. Efficiency and Economy

2. Plan for Policies

a. Create an efficient records management policy and program, based on the

careful application of the management and organization principles and the

program objectives.

3. Human Problems

a. Investigating career opportunities in records management, leading to

positions in business, industry and government sectors.

b. Training of staff

4. Training of Staff

a. General staff

b. The basic course will do the following:

i. Introducing the basic concepts of organizational theory and

different ways of analyzing organizations

ii. Discussing the history and development of recordkeeping systems

iii. Defining the concept of a “record” and the systems that support

records

iv. Outlining what records management is and what records managers

do

v. Reviewing the basic principles and functions of a records

management program 15

5. Establish Records Management Division

6. Emerging areas

a. Look at the policies of records management in new emerging areas, for

instance, health care industry in Malaysia which has specific requirement

for Medical Records Officer that is also has unique knowledge in ICD10,

for classification of disease and mortality. Health information management

involves not only maintaining patient files, but also coding the files to

reflect the diagnoses of the conditions suffered by patients.

b. Records Managers in the pharmaceutical industry are responsible for

maintaining laboratory research, clinical trials data, and manufacturing

information.

c. Records Managers in law firms often have responsibility for managing

conflicts, as well as managing client matter files.

7. Governmental archives and records management departments such as the

National Archives and Records Administration offer educational programs of

interest to government records managers.

8. A professional certification, the Certified Records Manager credential is offered

by any certification institute related specifically to the records management

discipline. Other organizations may offer certificates reflecting completion of a

course of studies, attendance at a seminar, or passing a subject matter test. 16

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