Public sector reforms: transparency and accountability in the digital environment

  • Anne Thurston IRMT
Keywords: public sector reforms, accountability, transparency, digital records


The international development community sees transparency and accountability as fundamental to achieving development goals. Records should play a key role in achieving these goals, but at present, data and statistics receive far more attention than do records, which barely feature on the international agenda despite their fundamental contribution to national development. The key role that records play in documenting development decisions and actions tends not to be recognised or highly valued by governments and international development agencies. This paper suggests that this is a make-or-break time for the records profession in Africa: either the fundamentally important contribution that the profession can make to all aspects of development, including accountability and transparency, will be recognised and properly resourced, or it will remain a low priority area with less and less relevance to development and in turn fewer resources being invested. Although digital records are rapidly becoming the predominant media of government communication, the structures and systems needed to protect and preserve them have not been fully developed anywhere in the region. There is a very high risk that national development will be undermined if the records issue is not properly addressed and that much of the public records now being created will never come into archival custody. The bottom line is that if the records profession wants to fulfil its function to protect and preserve evidence for citizens and society, it needs to change to meet the present realities. Focusing on how records and archives can complement data and statistics to benefit citizens and support accountability and transparency could offer the way for the national archives in the ESARBICA region to play their essential role in national and international development.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0376-4753