ESARBICA Journal: Journal of the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives

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Organising Public Records to Achieve Service Delivery: The Role of the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa’s Functional Subject File Plan in Government Departments

M Ngoepe


Systems used to arrange or classify government records play a key
role in a government department’s ability to conduct and manage its
business information over time. In recent years, there has been
growing interest within the public sector records management
community in using function-based classification systems as a means
to link business context, instead of classifying it into groupings
reflecting ever-changing organisational structures. Function-based
records classification systems are in line with the principle of levels of
arrangement and description as records are organised according to
hierarchical levels in order to reflect the nature of their creation. The
development in South Africa with regard to records classification
systems resulted in the National Archives and Records Service
propagating the use of functional subject file plan by governmental
bodies. Therefore, this article presents a perspective on the approach
being taken by the National Archives and Records Service of South
Africa in assisting government departments to classify their business
information to achieve accountability and service delivery. The article sets out the background to; and the factors affecting the development
of government departments’ records classification systems and the
benefits thereof. It then evaluate the effectiveness of NARS functional
subject file plan in meeting service delivery by government departments.
In trying to arrive at the bottom of the story, a survey was
conducted on existing national government departments in South

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