Accountability and Recordkeeping: Some Thoughts
The paper considers concepts of accountability and audit in relation to record-keeping systems. The emergence of an ‘audit culture\' and the allegation that top-down controls are undermining professionalism will be discussed. The question of national and/or cultural contexts will be raised. Concepts of risk will be discussed and the point made that risk-taking may sometimes be beneficial. The role of record keeping systems will be examined against the background of these concerns. There have been spectacular problems, such as the Enron and Anglo-Leasing scandals. In some cases, such as the Hutton enquiry, these are well documented. There are also some intriguing contrasts (for example, when Tanzania and Kenya are compared). The essential distinction between pre-action and post-action recordkeeping systems will be examined, drawing on experience in Australia, Britain, Malawi, Tanzania and the United States. The role of software vendors is discussed and the possibility that variants of preaction workflow may be compatible with electronic recordkeeping is explored. Possible solutions to existing challenges are considered in the context of developing countries. E-democracy has been promoted as an ideal and a goal. What problems are involved in attempting to translate that into reality? Would e-liberty be a better concept and goal to work towards? The writer\'s own research on records management standards and the good governance agenda in Commonwealth African countries and his experience as a records management consultant are drawn upon where appropriate.
Keywords: keAccountability, Record Audits, Recordkeeping systems
ESARBICA Vol. 27 2008: pp.4-19