Where are the records in public sector reform? Advocating for integration of records management into public sector reforms in Malawi
Public sector reforms tend to focus on restructuring public institutions and addressing dysfunctional operational systems without dealing with inefficiencies in records management. Such focus partly addresses the heart of the service delivery challenge in the public sector. Sometimes, the biggest challenge for people seeking particular services in public institutions is not necessarily impediments caused by dysfunctional structures, but lack of records to support citizens’ claims or inability by public officers to timeously track files and provide relevant information to clients on time. This qualitative study examines the public sector reforms in Malawi and advocates for the inclusion of records management into such reforms. The study is based on analysis of government reform reports, policy briefs, circulars, scholarly texts and media reports. While a wide variety of institutional reforms within the public sector are essential, it is important to recognise that without well-functioning records management systems, efficient delivery of public services will remain a challenge. The study established that public sector reforms that focus purely on restructuring public institutions and addressing dysfunctional operational systems without dealing with inefficient records management systems adversely compromise service delivery of the reformed institutions. The study further expounds that despite numerous attempts to reform the public sector in the country, records management remains a challenge evidenced by numerous malpractices. It is concluded that consistent with the objective of reforming public institutions, it is imperative when implementing institutional reforms in the public sector that they are integrated with reforms in records management systems.