Fakhurrazi Ibnu Omar Al Bakri Mohamad Muhammad Azhan Abdul Aziz Faculty of Information Management Sarawak Campus Colloquim 24-26 September 2005 UiTM Sarawak, Kuching. Abstract Records management deals with any official transaction and business processes that take place within public office. Naturally records will undergo phases of organism lifecycle to have attachment to content, context and structure of event they represent. Public office in the dominator side that creates all those abundant records, prone to become issue of public mistrust perception. Good records management then needed to reform part of its management in objective of imposing good governance and preserve the right of the citizens. The objective is to signify certain face lift in improving public good governance in having good records keeping, evidence based decision, transparency, quality assurance and accountability. Keywords: records management, good governance, record keeping, evidence based decision, transparency, quality records . Introduction Government organization lately come under spotlight of blatant use of power, malpractice, corruption and so forth allegation. Is it all true or just kind of animated case that being added some drama element along the way? Government organization various government ministries, department, statutory bodies (FELDA,RISDA), the Armed Forces, universities and of-budget agencies. These organizations are funded by tax ringgit, paid by citizen, the public. Therefore they come under close scrutiny from public and interest group. They not measured by bottom line like private sector organization1. Dato’ Seri Abdullah in its resolution to bring new image of fast decision making, introduce the good public governance that among other thing stressed on accountability, reforms and service to the public. Public use to hear about corporate governance, a string attached to audit, control and identify the right and responsibilities, legitimize action and determines accountability. It a philosophy concern with derivation, use and limitation of power. As a public funded organization, government and its agencies are subject to audit, query and complaint from public. Differ from private sector in term of defined bottom line, government bound to the social responsibility and oath of civil service. A government agenda to adopt good corporate governance in its administration - bring about some fear
Management in Malaysia: base text in general management with local reference to managing a Malaysian business. Institut Pengurusan Malaysia, 1999:44


of incapability to transforming the rooted practice. Prime Minister act as CEO to the Malaysian Inc, and its subordinate must have the same thinking. Rather a concept than a practice, but it’s a good work worth to be done. Under the Dasar Persyarikatan Malaysia or Malaysia Incorporated Policies, there must be a good cooperation between public and private sector. To achieve it, public perception towards the way civil service work and execute must be turned. Public sector especially financial institution already submitted to comply to corporate governance and adequacy audit, they then demand the same practice happen in its public counterpart. People as well relate it to the power shifting from former premier, Tun Mahathir Mohamad to Dato’ Seri Abdullah Badawi is somehow divulging a hereditary disease. Comes under fire is the Government Link Company which rely much of its business from government tender. Tender confidential information leakage, outside lobbying are among other issue bring forward to the GLC’s and contractor business politicking. The premier successor then under the banner of national integrity plan, order a comprehensive post mortem includes surprise visit to public department. This action gives some improvement in public sector especially for proper documentation, public service and public servant attendance, small step for a giant leap. Approved Permit either franchise or open recently is heated argument between Ministry of International and Trade Industry. Willful action taken by the Prime Minister to made public the who’ who list or AP recipient add some color to government stern policy of eroding malpractice, corruption and the vice. Act on above circumstances, it is about times to re-highlight various component that academician, policy maker’s and enforcement people can act, review and contribute before it’s too late. This opinion paper focus on providing insight into how a good and sound records management do its part and partial role in fighting corruption, misuse of power, unaccountability and restore rest assured quality, transparency of a good public governance. Records management acts as output or product of every official transaction. Give evidence of an activity- any action or set of action undertaken by an individual, a group of individual or a corporate body, or by employees or agents acting on its behalf, and resulting in a definable outcome.2

Elizabeth. Shepherd, Yeo, Geoffrey. Managing records: a handbook of principle and practice. Facet : London, 2004,p-2.



Good governance requirement. Good records keeping. Role of recordkeeping in relation to accountability amongst are: facilitating good governance that underpinning accountability mechanisms, constituting corporate, national and societal memory, constructing individual, community and national identity, providing authoritative sources of information3. These listed functions should be given top priority. Personal visit and informal observation to various federal public agencies in Malaysia, post specifically designed to manage records is varied, or vague. Chief clerk, secret room clerk (kerani bilik sulit), administration executive officer, file clerk are amongst post that responsible in maintaining record keeping. The policy is clear, but the enforcement is lack of consistency, it due to the size of organization, level of operation significance and post warrant unavailability to recognize the post. Task of monitoring records management in most public agencies assigned as additional task (tugas-tugas tambahan) to any experienced officer. IRMT/World Bank Evidence-based Governance in Electronic Age in it’s summary for Global Forum Electronic Discussion’s Public Sector Reform and Record Keeping agreed that there is importance of having quality record keeping for all aspects of public sector reform, the institutional capacity needs to be strengthened overall, and top-level support is required. Result from the forum, collective participants had identified five distinct issues that are: • the need to link accountability and efficiency with quality record keeping; • the need to protect critical government records; • the importance of ensuring a smooth transition to electronic technologies and protecting paper and electronic records in the process; • the need to manage human resources records so that the objectives of civil service reform are well met throughout government; and • the importance of ensuring sufficient institutional capacity for quality record keeping to achieve the long-term goals of improved accountability and efficiency in government.4

Sue McKemmish. The Smoking Gun: Record Keeping and Accountability. Records Continuum Research Group, PTAR Library 12 August 2005 4 International Records Management Trust . Evidence Based Governance in Electronic Age. 12 September 2005.



Evidence based decision. Causes of bureaucratic corruption are; low morale standard of individual bureaucrat, by the deficiencies of the administrative system, and by the pressure and constraint which society imposes on official5. Deficiencies in the various component in public control mechanism, named it in area like administrative, financial, or human. Due to these control- guidelines, documentation, and paperwork’s established to serve as legit mechanism in decision and action of officials. Records will be show either they comply or not in course of their action, if yes those records suppose to be well managed as evidence. International Records Management Trust Project’s “ Evidence Based Governance in Electronic Age” focus on studying the loss of control of records and information systems, particularly in electronic environments. Accurate official records should provide the basis for poverty reduction, the rule of law, economic development, and accountability frameworks6. Records management programmed initiation in any organization should be inspired by social corporate responsibility amongst other thing. Academician and thinkers in records management field must work hand-to-hand in with public official, enforcement, administration, and policy maker to materialize it. Paul H. Appleby (1949) noted in his lecture and works that tendency of many academician and practitioners to view policy and administration as separate activities and not see administration as having little or no policy-making role; this should be immediately demolished. It ia among the de facto reason why marketing of records management concepts in higher level accepted in partial only. Public agencies are required to comply with circular and directives from its central agencies such as Prime Minister department, Treasury, Public Service Department regarding the their records keeping keep sake, for example Surat Pekeliling Perbendaharaan Bil.9 1986 clearly outlined that financial account book and records should be in good records keeping, disposal must be prior to Federal/State Accountant consent. This to ensure that all financial records audited first, and there is no reason for malevolent disposal. “Every act of the public employee is a seamless web of discretion and action – “ Luther Gulick.7 Statistic provided by Anti Corruption Agency for year 2004 alone recorded 982 case under investigation, 50 convicted and 718 reports received8.
Phangpariat and Piriyarangsar. Compliance and democracy in Thailand. Chiang May, Silkhew Books, 1996; 179. 6 Op. cit; International Records Management Trust. 7 Luther Gulick. Politic, Administration and the New Deal. 1933;p 561 8 Corruption report 2004. Anti Corruption Agency. 16 August 2005.


Malaysia’s 39th most corrupted Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by Transparency International 2004 from 146 nation9. Corruption index pools evidence that private sector records for 13.3 percent, politician 11.1 percent, nongovernment organization 7.4 percent and public sector 6.5 percent. This statistic revealing a reality of our own country terrible disease. Despite the public perception of politician and public sector corruption, evidence show on the other part is more likely worst case. Records and transparency: Certain procedure, recorded has significance effect on public, in what condition should it make public, should free access of information overruled the Official Secret Act, how long then OSA embedded into records until it make public. Freedom to Information is concern with public access into public records, to facilitate a need to know basis of how government decision and policy affect their lives. The earliest legislation governing open records dates back in year of 1776 in Sweden that outlines key point on FOI law that are; legal right on citizens that can be enforced, seek to change the culture of secrecy within the civil service, provide access to records not just information and define right of appeal10. Information released by public authorities should be in accord with what means by transparency requirement without alteration and derived meaning. That’s why access to records required despite the availability of information request normally by public. Records transpire a transparency practice in much organization, as a formal requirement of auditing both internal and external. All necessary evidential records must be there, common excuse such as misplaced, missing in action considered as invalid since a thorough in and out or records procedure already establish. Administration live outside the proper sphere of politics. Administration question are not political question. Although politics sets the task for administration, it should not be suffered to manipulate it’s office

“Corruption perception index”. Transparency International. 16 August 2005. “The right to information, information, public awareness and public records.” TI Source Book 2000. Transparency International, 2000, 235-246.



Records and quality assurance International Standard Organization (ISO) quality management requirement documentation directly addressed records management as one of it overall accreditation element. ‘field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of creation m receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records’.11 Quality assurance stress on continuous improvement in organization, and its can be materialized in proper documentation.
Plan Act Do Check E X C E L L E N C E

Standard setting

Figure 1:Ascending quality improvement Sources: Koch, 1990.

Quality accreditation process scrutinized every working document and paperwork to find any compliance and non-compliance. Records management born genetically with every action taken where they are among output of process. Referring to above figure- interpreted in every quality improvement activity take place, records will provide solid evidence on how effectively every element within institution plan, do, check and act accordingly. If there is any auditing process occur, officials will scrutinized every minor and major detail of – either it’s a plan that flaw, or fail; or do or doer failure; or is there any remedial action or check take place, or is the act or execution that lead to non-compliance. People usually kept their mouth shut, or create some reasonable excuse to it, but remember records talk here, unless there is none. Officials in course of duty will probably able to defend themselves with make-up records but there could be any loose joints in either its content, context and structure.

Records and accountability.
International Standards Organization. ISO 15489-1:2001 Information and documentationrecords management-Part 1: general.


Records management principles suggest that its evidence to every act and decision taken within organization. Scene investigation regarding any criminal breach of trust (CBT) suggests that inspection normally will be conducted to any existing document(s). And its always include into power jurisdiction of any bureau, agency that investigate the case, for example Singapore’s ICAC’s power to hold and examine business and private document, empower them to enforce law towards classified document. A prudent records management policy will surely vest officials and public institution with full responsibility to its action and decision. There is a proof to tail them. As noted by Woodrow Wilson in 1887 that “there is the view that public administration is made distinctive by its relationship to the governmental process and that this relationship required that special ateliers be part to such normative concerns as justice, freedom and responsibility”.

Cultural use

Support for internal and external accountability Business use

Figure 2: Reason for Source Elizabeth Shepherd., Geoffrey Yeo (2003)

keeping records

Good records management orderly defend institution, organization and party from falling into condition where they either unable to provide evident of policy and procedures compatibility, defend against liability claims, prove its rights and protect assets Some may argue that with too much public release of government records may impede the official’s operative nature, thus later slowing down the decision and action taken. A few good question highlighted in Transparency International Source Book 2000 in regards with public sector records are:  Are there clear administrative instructions on the maintenance of public records? If so, are these generally observed; and  What policies exist concerning the provision of information to the public?

Governance Objective

Key Records Required


rule of law

legislative records court records police records prisons records accounting records procurement records tax records customs records electoral registers policy files case files budget papers policy files accounting records personnel records payroll records procurement records fixed assets registers property registers pension records social security records land registration records birth/death records hospital records school records treaties correspondence with national and international bodies loan agreements


management of state resources

protection of entitlements

services for citizens foreign relations and international obligations

Table 1:Governance Objectives and Records

Source: The World Bank Group12

This table show how a governing body interdependent with various category of records in course of its action and operation. Availability of those records will transpire its accountability, transparency and quality management. Records keeping should be able to cope with growing collection of unmanaged records.

The World Bank Group. Records Keeping and Accountability. 16 September 2005.,,contentMDK:20035498~page PK:36726~menuPK:57185~piPK:36092,00.html


The marketing of records management concept, and its significance importance towards support of core operation in any public institution/agency should become continuous priority for every records professionals. Through this opinion paper, it is hoped soon there will be cooperation between academician, administration and policy maker into establishing a national plan for records management with concern in creating records officers, and guidelines to be followed. Sector that have start adopting a records management programmed into their total quality accreditation (MSQH requirement) are health. The very difference between academician and officials thinking regarding records management should then be stamp out.

REREFENCE: Corruption perception index. Transparency International. 16 August 2005. <> Denhordt, Robert B. Theories of public organization. 4th ed. Thomson-Wadsworth: California, 2004 Luther Gulick. Politic, Administration and the New Deal. 1933. International Records Management Trust . Evidence Based Governance in Electronic Age. 12 September 2005. International Standards Organization. ISO 15489-1:2001 Information and documentation-records management-Part 1: general. Jack, Kim. Anti Corruption System, Effects and Strategies in Asia. Fighting Corruption in ASIA: Causes Effect and Remedial. John Kidd, Frank-Jurgen Richter. World Scientific: New Jersey, 2003 Luther Gulick. Politic, Administration and the New Deal. 1933. McKemmish, Sue. The Smoking Gun: Record Keeping and Accountability. Records Continuum Research Group, PTAR Library 12 August 2005. Management in Malaysia: base text in general management with local reference to managing a Malaysian business. Institut Pengurusan Malaysia, 1999. Phangpariat and Piriyarangsar. Compliance and democracy in Thailand. Chiang May, Silkhew Books, 1996.Corruption report 2004. Anti Corruption Agency. 16August 2005.


< > Shepherd, Elizabeth. and Geoffrey Yeo,. Managing records: a handbook of principle and practice. Facet : London, 2004. The right to information, information, public awareness and public records. TI Source Book 2000. Transparency International, 2000, 235-246.

The World Bank Group. Records Keeping and Accountability. 16 September 2005.
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