The Midlands IRMS met on the 16th July 2013. We were hosted by one of our members, Andy Johnson, of the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC). Work commitments and some unseasonable colds reduced our turnout to 10; however there was plenty of discussion about our three presentations.
Firstly our host gave a presentation entitled ‘RM in Austerity’. WNDC are what used to be called a ‘Quango’ and when set up in 2004 had a defined end date. That date is fast approaching in 2014 and Andy gave an interesting insight into the sort of challenges this presents. For example the planning responsibilities of WNDC are to be shared back across three local authorities; each of which has different formats for their planning records. Despite the effective end date being known for some time there is still no clear home that has been identified for the records about WNDC’s activities. There is plenty of work to do solving these issues whilst maintaining day to day operational effectiveness.
After this James Ulph from Amgen chaired a round table discussion about retention schedules and email management. The group discussed the various positions they take with the construction of retention schedules and their application. A number of different approaches were discussed ranging from the setting of ‘big buckets’ into which users had to place the records they owned to a more granular record specific approach that defined the record and retention period for the end users. There was even some variance in the application of the schedules, from supporting guidance documents through to enforceable policy documents. The group discussed the various approaches and the general consensus was that the variance was down to the requirements of the individual teams. Private sector firms with budget for external counsel ‘sign off’ are more likely to use retention schedules as an enforcement tool; local authorities that construct them on a best endeavours basis and rely on teams to provide updates generally position them as guidance. The conversation naturally included email. The challenges centred on the volume of emails received; how can they effectively be managed based on record series defined in retention schedules? One approach was to define an email retention bucket as part of the big bucket approach. Whilst this protected core records it ensured the retention of vast amounts of what can only really be classed as rubbish! The group reached consensus; no-one has effectively met the challenge yet!
Finally Michele Sarginson from Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA) shared her experience of an ICO audit. PDNPA took the opportunity to have the ICO audit their information management capability. The ICO worked with PDNPA to scope the audit, and set appropriate timescales. The audit itself involved reviewing policies and procedures that demonstrate the effective management of records and information to interviewing staff themselves. The link to the ICO page is included in the final pages of Michele’s slides which have been posted onto the IRMS Midlands internet pages and through these you can find a summary of those audits complete to date and how to book one yourself.
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