24 January 2014
As you know, we periodically update the Keeper’s Guidance Document which can be found at Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 - Resources.
This was done in January 2104, with broken links removed or updated. Also, we are pleased to provide a link to the latest records management plan to be published, that of the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB). Links to published plans can be found on page 72 of the Guidance Document. Alternatively, you can consult the SLAB plan on the Scottish Legal Aid Board website.
13 December 2013
Tuesday 3 December 2013 saw the first post-implementation conference about the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 (PRSA) take place at the City Halls in Glasgow. The event was supported by NRS, The Scottish Council on Archives, The Information and Records Management Society, Archivists of Scottish Local Authorities Working Group, and The Archives and Records Association. The conference was introduced by the Minister for External Affairs and International Development, Mr Humza Yousaf MSP. A wide range of speakers gave interesting and thought-provoking talks on the impact of PRSA and its relationship with other legislation governing records and information. Speakers included Tim Ellis, Chief Executive of NRS, in his role as Keeper of the Records of Scotland, Ken Macdonald, Assistant Information Commissioner for Scotland & Northern Ireland, and Rosemary Agnew, Scottish Information Commissioner, A live Twitter feed was maintained throughout the day. The PRSA Assessment Team would like to thank everyone who attended and those who worked so hard to made the conference such a success, particularly Ben Bennett and Victoria Brown of the Scottish Council on Archives.
Feedback is currently being gathered from delegates and a summary account of delegates comments will be published to these pages in due course. The conference was filmed and this will be available to view on the Scottish Council on Archives website soon.
02 December 2013
You might be interested to know that the plans agreed by the Keeper so far are:
Registrar General for Births Deaths and Marriages in Scotland
Keeper of the Records of Scotland
Court of the Lord Lyon
West Lothian Council
West Lothian Licensing Board
Scottish Legal Aid Board
Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator
Falkirk Licensing Board
Central Scotland Joint Board
Scottish Advisory Committee on Distinction Awards
Auditor General for Scotland
Accounts Commission for Scotland
There are currently (2nd December) eight plans under review by the Keeper Assessment Team.
24 October 2013
Keeper's Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 Annual Report
The Keeper's first Annual Report on the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 has now been published and laid before Parliament.
The report shows that the first scheduled authorities have been invited to submit their Records Management Plans and several have now done so and had them agreed. This is the start of a long-term process of improving the standard of record-keeping across the Scottish public sector. This will be achieved through continuous engagement with the Keeper's assessment team and between authorities themselves. The initial signs have been promising as authorities work towards meeting their obligations under the new legislation.
22 October 2013
Pete Wadley, Public Records Officer, (left) accepting the records management plan of NHS Fife from CEO John Wilson and Records Manager Ann Allan.
Fife NHS Board received the Keeper's agreement to their records management plan at the end of September 2013.
NHS Fife has published their RMP. Vitally, this publication provides links to their large evidence package and in doing so they have created a valuable resource for other NHS boards and for the Scottish public sector as a whole.
At the same time we have been made aware that Falkirk Council has also published the plan which was agreed by the Keeper in August.
15 August 2013
West Lothian Council have published their formal records management plan, the first to be agreed after that of the Keeper and the Court of Lord Lyon.
Hopefully this publication will provide a useful resource for other similar organisations. It can be found at the West Lothian Council website.
The Keeper's report on the West Lothian plan can be downloaded in our Assessment Report section.
9 July 2013
Guidance Document Updates
Each month we check the links in the Keeper's Guidance to the Form and Content of the Model Records Management Plan and where possible update them. The date of the latest check is advertised at the bottom of each page.
Since May the Keeper's assessment team has been receiving submissions from Scottish public authorities, once these have (hopefully) been agreed by the Keeper, the opportunity arises to offer policy documents, and other documents submitted as evidence, as guidance for authorities further down the timetable. However, we will only do this with the express permission of the submitting authority.
In addition, the Keeper will recommend that authorities publish agreed RMPs on their own website. When we become aware that this has been done we will provide a link from the Guidance document to the published plan.
It is our attention to advertise additions to the Guidance document in a semi-regular post to this page.
The records management plans (RMPs) of the Keeper of the Records of Scotland, the Registrar General for Births, Deaths and Marriages in Scotland and for the Court of the Lord Lyon have now been assessed by the Keeper of the Records of Scotland (The Keeper) and have been agreed.
Assessment reports on these RMPs appear on the new Assessment Report Webpage. The Keeper intends to publish a report on each of the submitted public authority records management plans and indicate his agreement or otherwise. At the same time, he will recommend that the authorities publish their RMPs, although publication is not a requirement of the Public Records (Scotland) Act.
The first RMPs from outside the Register House campus have now been submitted. These are from West Lothian Council (including West Lothian Licensing Board) and from the Scottish Legal Aid Board. These plans are being considered at the moment and the Keeper's reports on these plans will be published soon.
The Keeper looks forward to receiving RMPs from the other timetabled authorities as the year progresses.
6 June 2013
During April 2013, a series of three surgeries were run by the Public Records (Scotland) Act implementation team. Surgeries took place in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow. These were open to any representatives of named Scottish public authorities and were very well attended by a range of professionals from across a variety of sectors.
The surgeries consisted of presentations from the implementation team about the background to the Act and the 14 elements of the Keeper's Model Plan. These were then followed by an 'open forum' style discussion which allowed comments and questions about any aspect of the Act and its implementation. These explored, and hopefully addressed, delegates' concerns about the practical implications of the Act on their authorities. Each surgery raised a variety of issues and, in turn, discussion between delegates to find solutions common to and across different sectors. As well as giving delegates an opportunity to find their own solutions to issues they face, the surgeries provided the implementation team with a valuable opportunity to engage with representatives of the public sector and learn about some of the issues they face.
The implementation team has now considered all of the issues raised at the surgeries and we are now publishing a FAQ document which will hopefully address some of the more commonly asked questions.
[Read the FAQ document - Rich Text Format, 597 KB, new window]
[Read the FAQ document - Acrobat Reader, 47 KB, new window]
For those not able to attend the recent surgeries, a copy of the presentation is available for you to consult.
[Read the script of the presentation - Rich Text Format, 5.7 MB, new window]
[Read the script of the presentation - Acrobat Reader, 348 KB, new window]
Due to the popularity of these events and the positive feedback received by delegates who attended the surgeries, we intend to continue to run these events, with the next series taking place in Autumn 2013.
Should you wish to attend one of these events, please contact the implementation team at email@example.com.
29 May 2013
NRS wins Records Management Team of the Year Award
The NRS Public Records (Scotland) Act implementation team has been awarded the Information and Records Management Society (IRMS) Records Management Team of the Year 2013. The award was given to the team as authors of the Guidance to the form and content of the Model Records Management Plan for Developing Records Management Arrangements Under Section 1 of the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011.
This prestigious UK award was collected by two of the four team members (Bruno Longmore and Pete Wadley) at the IRMS annual conference in Brighton on 20 May 2013. The other members of the award winning team are Hugh Hagan and Andrea Wells. It is one of only four awards given out annually by the IRMS which is the foremost professional association for those who work in or are concerned with records or information management in the UK.
12 April 2013
First Records Management Plan submitted under the PRSA 2011
In April 2013 the first records management plan from a named public authority was submitted under the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011. In January 2013 the named authorities of the Keeper of the Records of Scotland and the Registrar General for Scotland, operating jointly under the umbrella of the National Records of Scotland (NRS), were invited under The Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 to submit their records management plan by the end of April 2013. The plan was handed over early on 12 April 2013 by John Simmons, acting NRS Records Manager, and will now be assessed by the PRSA Implementation Team along with the accompanying evidence. NRS is the first public authority to submit a records management plan for assessment under the new Act, which came into force on 1 January 2013. Following assessment by the Implementation Team, and (hopefully) agreement, the plan will be published on our website as a guide to other authorities. If the plan is returned, further work will be needed to ensure that the plan complies with the requirements of the Act.
27 February 2013
Timetable and Methodology Published
The submission timetable for the first six months of implementation (Jan – Jul 2013) has now been published on the NRS website at our Assessment Process page.
This timetable will be updated each month. There will, of course, be a period of several months between invitation and submission when the Keeper's implementation team will be available to engage with public authorities to help them in their task of creating a robust records management plan. The pre-submission period is flexible and will vary depending on the size and complexity of the organisation.
This new webpage also explains the assessment process more fully and provides links to the PRSA FAQ document and also to a list of all the public authorities to which the Act applies. This list will also be updated monthly to show those authorities who have been invited and to indicate when plans have been agreed. The list will also record any 'new' authorities appearing on the Scottish public sector landscape and that are subject to the Act.
24 January 2013
New Records Management Forum launched.
This update is to inform all those interested that the Records and Information Management Scotland on-line forum launched last week through the Knowledge Hub, operated by the Improvement Service.
Throughout the various pre-implementation meetings we held, including the Keeper's Stakeholder Forum and the PRSA Surgeries, there was a clear message that records management practitioners wanted a way of keeping in touch beyond implementation of the Act on 1 January 2013.
This forum would seem an ideal method to do this. Although not facilitated by the National Records of Scotland, we support the forum and will participate in its debates and discussions. We will watch with interest the themes that develop. The forum will allow records managers to share their experiences of implementing the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 as well as much more.
Forum facilitator, and information management consultant, Heather Jack posted the following which we are happy to repeat here:
How to join
The group is open to all but before joining, you must have registered with the Knowledge Hub - a secure, web based collaboration platform for professionals working in and around local government – although our group covers all public sectors and their partners.
Registration is easy and will only take a few minutes. After you visit the registration page and fill in the required fields you will be sent an email to verify your details. Once that process is complete you are ready to join the group and get collaborating!
16 January 2013
Happy New Year.
The Hogmanay bells not only celebrated the New Year but the coming into force of The Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 (the Act) from January 1st 2013. From that date, the Keeper has the authority to invite Scottish public authorities scheduled under the Act to submit their records management plans for agreement. As has been well publicised, the joint plan of the Keeper of the Records of Scotland (Keeper) and the Registrar General (the National Records of Scotland plan) will be first and the invitation to submit will be sent out in the next week. Following review, and (hopefully) agreement, it will be published on our website as a guide to others.
Invitations to submit over 250 other plans will follow in the next 5 years and in each case the Keeper will encourage the public authority to publish its agreed plan.
This week the Keeper is writing to the Chief Executives of all the scheduled authorities to remind them of their obligations under the Act. The letter will include a new information leaflet about the Act that we have produced in hard copy. This leaflet also appears as a PDF document on our website: please feel free to print it off and distribute to whom you think appropriate.
23 November 2012
During September 2012, a series of five surgeries were run by the Public Record (Scotland) Act implementation team. Surgeries took place in Edinburgh, Dumfries, Perth, Inverness and Glasgow. A sixth event was also held at the Archivists of Scottish Local Authorities Working Group (ASLAWG) meeting in Haddington.
Surgeries were open to any representatives from named Scottish public authorities. At each event the team invited comments and questions about any aspect of the Public Record (Scotland) Act and its implementation. They explored issues or concerns raised by delegates about the practicalities of implementation and the respective responsibilities of the Keeper and public authorities. Each event highlighted new issues and brought forward fresh ideas and solutions. Some were specific to particular sectors but many were common to a number of authorities and there were several recurring themes. Those included information about how to deal with electronic records; publication of a proposed timetable or timeline by the Keeper; and the process for invitation to an authority to submit a records management plan.
The implementation team has now considered all of the issues raised and we are publishing a FAQ document in response. We hope that you find this useful.
[Read the FAQ document - Rich Text Format, 618 KB, new window]
[Read the FAQ document - Acrobat Reader, 42 KB, new window]
For those who did not have an opportunity to attend one of the surgeries, a copy of the presentation given at each event is also available for you to consult and download.
[Read the script of the presentation - Rich Text Format, 5.7 MB, new window]
[Read the script of the presentation - Acrobat Reader, 336 KB, new window]
Initial feedback suggests that the opportunity to talk face-to-face with members of the implementation team was very valuable and appreciated by delegates. They have indicated that it helped to de-mystify the process. We are therefore planning a further programme of events for the spring of 2013. Details will follow in the new year.
Should you wish to consider attending those events, please contact the implementation team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
10th August 2012
Today sees the launch of the Keeper of the Records of Scotland's Model Plan and the accompanying Guidance Document.
These documents have been developed in collaboration with colleagues from across the Scottish records management and archive community, including colleagues from Scottish public authorities and non-public organisations. The final versions take into account the responses to the public consultation that was carried out earlier this year.
Those who have been following the development of the Model Plan and Guidance will recognise the many changes from the first draft. Crucially, the Keeper has responded to comments received during the recent public consultation exercise. He has, for example, included more guidance on what might be regarded as acceptable evidence, reworded Element 11 (Audit Trail) in response to comments that the element did not articulate clearly enough what it was asking authorities to do, and has provided clarity regarding which elements are compulsory because they are specifically mentioned under the Act.
All links and samples of records management solutions in the Guidance Document will be kept up-to-date by NRS on a regular basis.
As well as the Model Plan and Guidance, the implementation team are launching two further documents today:
1) The Executive Summary – This document was specifically requested by Stakeholders. It takes the form of an address to CEOs of scheduled public authorities reminding them of their obligations under the Act. This document can be used by records managers to help emphasise the importance of the Act, and reinforce to their boards the duty of all named authorities to comply. It is, for example, succinct enough that it could be inserted in the agenda of a public authority board meeting.
2) The FAQs – Again suggested by Stakeholders, this document summarises some issues that were raised regularly during the consultation and explains the Keeper's position on each. Hopefully this document will clarify details of the implementation and what is expected of a submitted records management plan.
Please contact the implementation team if you need further help at any stage in this process:
10 August 2012
The public consultation on the Keeper of the Records of Scotland's (the Keeper) Model Records Management Plan and Guidance Document ran from 27 Feb - 18 May 2012 and is now closed.
To remind you, the Keeper was obliged to publish a model plan (and guidance to that plan) under the terms of the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 (PRSA). The public consultation was a vital part of the process necessary for the creation of robust documents appropriate to the full implementation of PRSA in 2013.
The Keeper would like to thank all those individuals and institutions who responded to the consultation. His report on the issues raised by these responses, and the steps he intends to take in light of these responses.
[Read the Consultation Report - Rich Text Format, 813 KB, new window]
[Read the Consultation Report - Acrobat Reader, 108 KB, new window]
Full consultation responses, where specifically allowed by respondents, will be published in the Scottish Government Library. You can make arrangements to view responses by contacting the SG Library on 0131 244 4552. Responses can be copied and sent to you, but a charge may be made for this service.
31 May 2012
A meeting of the Stakeholder Forum took place on 31 May 2012.
[Read a summary of the Stakeholder Forum meeting of 31 May 2012 (RTF version) - Rich Text Format 175KB, new window].
[Read a summary of the Stakeholder Forum meeting of 31 May 2012 (PDF version) - Acrobat PDF 70.5 KB, new window].
18 May 2012
Close of public consultation
The public consultation on the Keeper of the Records of Scotland's (the Keeper) Model Records Management Plan and Guidance Document ran from 27 Feb - 18 May 2012 and is now closed.
To remind you, the Keeper is obliged to publish a model plan (and guidance to that plan) under the terms of the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 (PRSA). The public consultation is a vital part of the process necessary for the creation of robust documents appropriate to the full implementation of PRSA in 2013.
The Keeper would like to thank all those individuals and institutions who responded to the consultation. His report on the issues raised by these responses, and the steps he intends to take in light of these responses, will be issued shortly and published on this site. Full consultation responses, where specifically allowed by respondents, will be published in the Scottish Government Library. You can make arrangements to view responses by contacting the SG Library on 0131 244 4552. Responses can be copied and sent to you, but a charge may be made for this service.
12 March 2012
Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 - Consultation on the Keeper of Records of Scotland's draft Model Records Management Plan and Guidance Document
The Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 reached a crucial milestone when the Keeper of the Records of Scotland (the Keeper) launched a public consultation on the draft Model Records Management Plan (the model plan) and accompanying Guidance document. The consultation can be accessed via the Scottish Government website.
The Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 (the Act) received Royal Assent on 20 April 2011. The Act is designed to improve the quality of record keeping in Scottish Public Authorities. It can be viewed via the UK legislation page.
Part one of the Act requires named Scottish public authorities to submit a records management plan (RMP), approved by their senior officers, for consideration and agreement by the Keeper. The schedule listing the named public authorities affected by the Act can be viewed at the UK legislation page.
The Act also requires the Keeper to assist this process by issuing a model plan and guidance on the form and content of the plan. An authority must have regard to the model plan when preparing its own RMP prior to submitting it to the Keeper.
Before publishing the model plan and guidance, the Act requires the Keeper to consult with a range of bodies that will be affected by the Act. To develop the two documents, the Keeper therefore set up a Stakeholder Forum in June 2011, on which over 40 bodies were represented. The Forum ran for about 6 months, advising the Keeper on the form and content of the model plan. The resulting products of the Forum, the draft model plan and Guidance, are what is currently being consulted on.
What is the consultation about?
The draft model plan describes 14 standard records management best practice elements that the Forum agreed should be considered by an authority when creating its own RMP. Whilst it is not compulsory for an authority to slavishly copy the model plan, certain key elements are required under the Act. Where an authority chooses not to use an element, some explanation for this decision will be required by the Keeper.
The consultation gives all interested bodies the opportunity to consider the 14 elements and comment on their suitability.
Crucial to interpreting the model plan is the Guidance which explains in more detail each of the elements. It also provides sample documents as submitted by Forum members that are currently used by their own authorities.
Throughout the whole process, the principle of not re-inventing the wheel was seen as important to the success of the Act. In these difficult economic times, it made sense for public authorities to use work already done by their peers, rather than expend resources starting from scratch. The Keeper was therefore keen to emphasise the benefits of employing records management solutions already in place within similar authorities.
The Guidance document provides links to best-practice guidelines that are currently freely available. The Guidance will be dynamic and subject to continuous change to ensure that it reflects the most up to date best practice in records management. It will be regularly updated to reflect the changes and current thinking in this specialist field, ensuring that it always remains fit for purpose.
The consultation gives all interested parties the opportunity to examine the Guidance document, comment on its clarity and the usefulness of the sample documents provided.
What should you do?
Consider the draft Model Plan and Guidance and complete the short respondent information and response form. This form is opened from the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 - Consultation home page via the Scottish Government website.
As well as specific questions about the draft model plan and Guidance, the response form offers space to provide further comments.
The public consultation on the draft model plan and Guidance remains open until 18th May 2012. Once closed, the Keeper will consider the responses received and analyse them. Depending on the comments, further discussion with the Stakeholder Forum may be arranged. A final version of the model plan and guidance will then be published.
Where respondents give permission for their response to be made public these will be made available in the Scottish Government Library and on the Scottish Government consultation web. We will check all responses where agreement to publish has been given for any potentially defamatory material before logging them in the library or placing them on the website. You can make arrangements to view responses by contacting the Scottish Government Library on 0131 244 4552. Responses can be copied and sent to you, but a charge may be made for this service.
The Keeper is working towards full implementation of the Act by January 2013 and is currently considering a timetable for inviting sectoral submission of RMPs. The timetable will be published during the latter part of 2012.
All interested parties, whether representing scheduled authorities or not, are encouraged to submit their comments through the formal on-line response procedure. However, the Public Records (Scotland) Act implementation team also welcomes direct correspondence in any format:
Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 - Implementation Team
National Records of Scotland
HM General Register House
2 Princes Street
To keep up-to-date on the progress of the implementation of the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 follow the Latest Developments on this page.
Implementation Team Lead
0131 535 1409
Public Records Officer
0131 535 1408
Public Records Assistant
0131 535 1418
20 December 2011
A meeting of the Stakeholder Forum took place on 20 December 2011.
[Read a summary of the Stakeholder Forum meeting of 20 December 2011 (RTF version) - Rich Text Format 85KB, new window].
[Read a summary of the Stakeholder Forum meeting of 20 December 2011 (PDF version) - Acrobat PDF 39KB, new window].
25 November 2011
Answers to frequently asked questions about the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 have been compiled.
[Read the answers to frequently asked questions (RTF version) - Rich Text Format 41KB, new window].
[Read the answers to frequently asked questions (PDF version) - Acrobat PDF 24KB, new window].
27 October 2011
A meeting of the Stakeholder Forum took place on 27 October 2011.
[Read a summary of the Stakeholder Forum meeting of 27 October 2011 (RTF version) - Rich Text Format 85KB, new window].
[Read a summary of the Stakeholder Forum meeting of 27 October 2011 (PDF version) - Acrobat PDF 39KB, new window].
30 September 2011
A conference about the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 was held in Edinburgh on 27 September 2011. The theme of the conference was strengthening records management and how public authorities can comply with the law. It was attended by over 150 delegates from a range of public authorities and supported by the National Records of Scotland (NRS). Key speakers included George Mackenzie, Registrar General and Keeper of the Records of Scotland and Tom Shaw, author of the 'Historical Abuse Systemic Review: Residential Schools and Children's Homes in Scotland 1950-1995'.
The Shaw Report played a key role in helping to develop the legislation and provided clear evidence of what can go wrong when we have a culture where records are not valued. George Mackenzie said that Shaw had provided the moral imperative and political impetus to improve standards. A later review conducted by NRS identified the wider public need. The Keeper viewed that Act as throwing down a challenge and offering a once in a lifetime opportunity to sort out record keeping at a national level, and get it right, not just for today's citizens but for future generations.
Sessions covered governance, transparency and accountability; working in partnership and sharing good practice. Other speakers looked at improving and benchmarking records across the National Health Service in Scotland and the impact that the Act may have on local government and the third sector. Case studies looked at the work of the Scottish Council on Archives to develop a quality improvement framework for archive and records management services; and delegates heard of examples of developing an integrated archives and records management service and developing records management solutions with no budgets and no technology.
29 August 2011
As part of the consultation process required by the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 the Keeper of the Records of Scotland is facilitating a series of face-to-face meetings of Stakeholders. These working groups will help tease out some of the particular issues that have been highlighted by the act. As with the main Stakeholder Forum the sub-groups are designed to represent a cross-section of the bodies that will, directly or indirectly, be affected by the act.
The deliberations of these working groups will help the Keeper create the guidance that will go to formal consultation early next year.
Two working group meetings have taken place so far. One group is considering the difficulties of records management in a climate of information sharing. The second is considering the affect the act will have on private or voluntary organisations when they carry out functions of public authorities under contract.
There was a lot to talk about in both groups and both have agreed to re-convene in Glasgow for a further session.
20 July 2011
Under the terms of the Public Records (Scotland) Act (PRSA) the Keeper of the Records of Scotland (KRS) is statutorily obliged to produce a model records management plan (RMP) and guidance on the form and content of RMPs.
To facilitate this, a 'Stakeholder Forum' of records management, archive and policy professionals has been set up. Delegates to the Forum are representative of the larger group of public bodies scheduled under the act. The Act will affect private and voluntary bodies where they are contracted by a public authority to perform a function on their behalf. The Forum therefore includes delegates from the voluntary and private sectors. This group has been joined by representatives from records management and archive professional bodies which are central to the success of the Act.
The Forum will provide the main mechanism for reaching agreement over the form and content of the model RMP and guidance. The National Records of Scotland will lead on development of these documents and will invite Forum members to represent the views of their respective sectors, as well as on the general principles of good records management. The draft guidance will be drawn initially from guidance already in existence or in the course of being developed.
While this will entail periodic Forum meetings it is expected that the bulk of the Forum’s work will be developed using the Communities of Practice discussion forum and by other electronic communication. Developing products remotely will minimise the resource commitment for invited participants and not prove to be too onerous. Once agreed and developed, the model RMP and guidance will be published for wider scrutiny by means of a formal public consultation.
Over the next six months the Forum will explore the best available guidance, consider the elements and wording of the model plan and guidance and produce drafts of key documents for consideration.
If you have any questions regarding the Act or the process that is underway please contact:
30 June 2011
Summary of inaugural meeting of the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 Stakeholder Forum held on 30th June 2011
The National Records of Scotland (NRS), General Register House, Edinburgh
The following organisations were represented:
Action for Children in Scotland; Apex Scotland; Archivists of Scottish Local Authorities Working Group (ASLAWG); The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS); Barnardo’s Scotland; Children 1st; City of Edinburgh Council; Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) & the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE); David MacBrayne Limited; Digital Preservation Coalition; Dumfries and Galloway Council; East Ayrshire Council; Glasgow City Council; Information and Records Management Society; Joint National Park Authority; Lothian and Borders Police; Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland/Scottish Tribunals Service; National Convenor of Children’s Hearings Scotland; National Museums of Scotland; NHS Education for Scotland; NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde; Northern Constabulary; Quarriers Scottish Care; Scottish Council on Archives; Scottish Government Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC); Scottish Government Health and Social Care; Scottish Government Information Systems and Information Services (ISIS); Scottish Legal Complaints Commission; Scottish Natural Heritage; Scottish Parliament Corporate Body; Scottish Public Services Ombudsman; Scottish Social Services Council; Scottish Women’s Aid; South Ayrshire Council; Strathclyde Police; West Lothian Council (37 bodies)
Apologies were received from:
Looked After Children and Young People; Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR); Scottish Court Service; Scottish Enterprise; SurvivorScotland.
NRS was represented by:
George McKenzie, Keeper of the Records of Scotland; Bruno Longmore, Head of Government Records; Hugh Hagan, Senior Public Records Officer; Pete Wadley, Public Records Officer
1. Outline of Work of the Forum
The Keeper of the Records (George Mackenzie) welcomed delegates and outlined the reasons why the Stakeholder Forum had been constituted. He recounted the background to the introduction of the new legislation emphasising that the perceived need for better record-keeping by public bodies stemmed from the findings of the 2007 Shaw Report into historical abuse of children in care. This introduces a moral as well as a practical element into the work of the Forum.
Membership of the Forum has been drawn from a wide range of organisations who produce records. The purpose of the Forum is to assist the Keeper to prepare and publish a model Records Management Plan (RMP) and prepare guidance (to the form and content) of the RMP. The draft plan and guidance will be published for wider consultation around all the named public authorities in the schedule to the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011. The formal consultation process will commence early in 2012. Once completed, the model RMP and guidance should aid all public authorities in creating workable RMPs for the management of their own business information and records.
The legislation requires that all plans be submitted for agreement by the Keeper before being implemented. The Forum will allow authorities and others to share experience and ensure that scheduled authorities are aware of the good practice that currently exists in the field.
It is anticipated that the work of the Forum will take approximately six months. It forms the first part of the implementation process. Full implementation of the Act was seen as commencing by January 2013.
Whilst the Keeper is required only to produce a model RMP and guidance on the form and content of RMPs, he is allowed also to provide other guidance. He regards this as an opportunity to provide guidance for records management generally in the form of a ‘Knowledge Base’.
The Forum process has a strong emphasis on dialogue, engagement, collaboration, co-operation and partnership.
Records management is not just a bureaucratic exercise but safeguards the rights of organisations and individuals. The Keeper concluded that 'Good records management is not free, but it is cheaper than bad records management or no records management.'
2. The Model Records Management Plan
Bruno Longmore outlined the terms in the Act and the specific areas of work where the NRS would seek assistance from Forum members. The Keeper must produce a model RMP and guidance to the form and content of RMPs. The Act also required that the Keeper consults stakeholders and has 'regard to any views expressed in response to the consultation'.
NRS has drawn up an initial list of 13 elements which they consider may be included within a model plan. These elements were outlined, though the list is not considered prescriptive and it is likely that some authorities will not use all 13. The Keeper will need to be assured, by an authority’s RMP, that each of the elements necessary for the RMP has been considered and acted upon by the authority, or rejected as being not applicable to them. He will seek evidence to support this position.
The Forum over the next six months will consider these proposed elements and decide whether they truly represent the make-up of a model RMP. NRS will canvas for suggestions on how the model RMP can be further developed before issuing the products for formal consultation. Introduction of an electronic document and records management (eDRM) system was not considered a compulsory element.
3. The Guidance
Hugh Hagan outlined aspects of the statutory guidance. As well as the model RMP the Keeper has an obligation to make available, and support over time, guidance that will explain the various elements of the RMP and thereby help authorities produce their own version for agreement with the Keeper.
The guidance will be developed to a large extent from the work of the Forum and also submissions received from others in the course of the later formal 12 week public consultation.
Scottish Ministers were keen that public authorities should avoid needlessly consuming public resources creating guidance from scratch if adequate guidance exists and can be used or adapted for use under the new Act.
To this end it is important that all scheduled authorities are aware of guidance and examples which already exist or are under development. Several guidance documents are already available and examples from several of these were highlighted. They included the well established Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 Section 61 Code of Practice on Records Management and the still being developed Scottish Council on Archives guidance, 'Taking a Closer Look at Look at Archives and Records Management Services' (ARMS) which is a self assessment tool designed to aid public authorities to assess their records management procedures.
While some guidance is several years old the Forum provides the perfect opportunity to revisit these and their value. By combining pre-existing work with the expertise of the Forum it is hoped that guidance can be produced at the end of the first six months’ consultation that will be further refined by the formal consultation process in 2012 and will ultimately benefit the implementation of the Act.
Delegates were encouraged to share not just their experience but any records management guidance or tools that they may have helped to develop in their current or previous posts. Existing in-house solutions to particular records management challenges might save others reinventing the wheel.
The Forum is fortunate that timing coincides with major new work on records management currently being developed by the Scottish Council on Archives.
4. Possible Tools: The Scottish Council on Archives ARMS Document
Dr Irene O’Brien, Chair of the Scottish Council of Archives talked about the work being done on records management guidance for local authorities.
The ARMS document which, in addition to defining relevant performance for records management in public sector bodies, aims also to support integration and cooperation between archives and records management services. The ARMS tool is currently under development and is being piloted across a number of Scottish authorities, including police and NHS bodies. Delegates were encouraged to engage with the process of development and to watch the SCA website for updates and developments.
The SCA Records Retention Schedule Project (SCARRS) was also highlighted. The main output of this project is to create generic retention schedules for Scottish local authorities, but which will have wider application across the Scottish public sector. These schedules will be freely available to help public authority records managers determine how long series of records should be kept. They will therefore help achieve a consistency across authorities and reduce duplicated effort.
5. Future Work of the Forum: The Communities of Practice Tool
Pete Wadley introduced ‘Communities of Practice’ a discussion board forum that NRS suggest should be the primary communication tools for members of the Stakeholder Forum. He asked that delegates return representative names and e-mails for invitations to be sent out.
The representative on Communities of Practice need not be the delegate attending the Forum, but NRS suggested that the communities start off with one member from each organisation. This was not a requirement and there may be perfectly good reasons why an organisation needs more than one community member.
Pete demonstrated how the interface worked and showed how to access the forum and the library. Pete gave an example of how basic guidance could be created, a line at a time, using the Communities site. From a question from the floor he confirmed that all community members can add items to the library.
6. Questions and Matters Raised
What is the role of the independent sector, and what are the challenges of dealing with records of contracted out services to the independent or voluntary sectors?
The independent sector, like the voluntary sector, will only be involved in this process when and where they are contracted by a public authority to perform a public function.
The Forum debate highlighted particular issues around the definition of functions and services within the public sector. The concern was raised that some public authorities, in order to protect themselves, may take a very broad view on what constitutes a public function.
How will the Act link with SCSWIS?
SCSWIS are a named public authority under the Act and will be required therefore to produce an RMP for agreement by the Keeper. The Act will not interfere with SCSWIS’s duties under its own legislation to regulate care in Scotland.
How is shared information or records to be handled under the Act?
Whilst it relatively straightforward to draw up and comply with your own authority’s or sector’s RMP, it becomes complicated where information or record sharing occurs. For example difference of opinion over retention periods or the issue of duplication may arise. It will be a challenge to work this through. The Scottish Government scheme, Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) was cited as a prime example of this situation.
There is a need to look at cross sectoral information sharing not just between two separate authorities. Generic guidance may be needed.
Will contracted bodies be required to manage the demands of several different RMP’s where they are, for example, contracted to a number of different public authorities?
This must not be the case and there are tools available to help minimise the prospect of this occurring. The work of the SCA in developing generic retention schedules on, for example child care records, will allow local authorities across Scotland to adopt common strategies and principles in managing the records created under this function. Accordingly, all local authorities should be looking to manage records of this function in the same way. Private or voluntary bodies contracted should therefore be working under one standard.
Does the Forum offer the opportunity to develop a single piece of records management guidance suitable for both FOI and PRSA purposes?
This was not part of the remit for the Forum, but it makes sense wherever possible to standardise guidance. It would also chime with the Minister’s desire not to waste public resources reinventing the wheel. The Keeper will discuss with the scope for this proposal with the Commissioner.
FOISA does not cover private or voluntary bodies. Is there a danger that this may come about as a result of the PRSA?
There is no intention that this should occur. The Act seeks to support the work of the Commissioner, but it will not in any way impinge on FOI or bring about a change Schedule 1 of FOISA. The new Act does not intend to bring about FOI by the back door.
Delegates indicated that there are certain ‘knotty’ issues raised by the Act where the discussion board is not an appropriate tool. It was strongly suggested that further face to face meetings would be be necessary to promote open discussion and deal with these issues. Examples include the different understanding of the term ‘function’ (with reference to public authorities contracting out functions to private or voluntary organisations). Other examples include shared services and the information sharing implications.
It was agreed that separate sub-groups to the larger Forum will be facilitated by NRS to help the consultation process. However although all members would be informed of the discussions, only a limited number of members could take part in the sub-group discussion.
It was understood that some of the issues that the Forum may debate may not lead to agreed outcomes. This could not deflect from the Keeper’s responsibility to issue a model RMP and guidance on the form and content of RMPs. It is possible that ‘consultation’ on some working group issues may go on beyond the lifetime of the main forum.
The Keeper agreed that guidance once in place would be updated over time.
It was agreed that the deliberations of the Stakeholder Forum, especially on the discussion board, should be considered as communication under Chatham House rules. The Keeper explained this allows people to speak as individuals and to express views that may not be those of their organisations encouraging free discussion.
The following Sub-Group Themes were identified as discussion groups outwith the mechanism of the discussion boards:
1. Contracting out of functions by public authorities
What is the definition of a ‘function’ in the public sector? Is there a unified view or do public authorities differ on what constitutes a function? What then might constitute a service and do we need to recognise that some contracts may feature both.
2. Impact of Information Sharing
GIRFEC and other initiatives and general rights and responsibilities under the Act in relation to information sharing, ownership and scheduling issues.
3. Testing Tools
A possible sub-group to test records management tools, such as those that the SCA have developed?
Delegates were thanked for attending and asked to contact NRS with details of who they would like on the Communities of Practice site. It was intended that there be only two further meetings of the full Forum over the next six months. Future dates will be canvassed with Forum members.