From The Chief Executive - Paper Records Take Their Toll

9/07/2014 12:00 a.m.

In one form or another, Ashburton District Council has been around for quite some time.

The first Ashburton Road Board was formed in 1864.

It will come as no surprise that over those 150 years the council has acquired a lot of information relevant to the district and its administration.

As of June 2014, we estimate the council holds 920 linear metres of paper records and a further 800 gigabytes of electronic data. That amounts to around seven million pieces of paper and 1.4 million electronic documents.

Property related information represents the largest volume of our physical files.  These files total 4.4 million pages and continue to grow daily in size.

Property related information covers:

  • Building consents (or building permits)
  • PIMs (Property Information Memorandums)
  • Resource consents (Land Use and Subdivision information and the like)
  • Liquor licences (on-licence\off- licence\club\manager etc)
  • Leases (for council owned property)
  • Building warrant of fitness information
  • Vehicle crossings information
  • Food and Health Licences
  • Dangerous goods information
  • Generic property information

Before making important decisions, we try to make sure we find and take account of the information in our records that is relevant to the matter being considered. It is not a particularly good look to find out later that we missed sourcing something from our records, or have spent time and effort on doing something that has actually been done before by earlier administration’s and long forgotten.

There are now enhanced statutory requirements for public bodies to improve on their past record keeping practices.

The council incurs significant cost holding and maintaining a growing mountain of physical and digital records.

Council records take up a considerable amount of storage space – be that hard copy physical files that you can take off our shelves and hold in your hands, or electronic documents that can be viewed on-line and stored on one of our computer systems. There is quite a bit of duplication in our records system, with different council departments or council officers holding identical copies of the same information.

We have investigated how much it would cost to digitise our paper records.

For the 4.4 million pages mentioned above we would need to spend around $630,000 and it would take a year and a half to carry out the work. No funding has been provided at this time.

Finding a way to work with our paper records while moving into a fully electronic environment is a key challenge for us.

Council organisational restructuring in 2013 looked at this issue and created two new Information Management positions to help us – an Information Management Specialist and an Information Management Officer. Both positions have been filled and we are now under way with a project to ensure the successful adoption of an Electronic Record and Document Management System (EDRMS) suited to the council and its customer’s needs.

EDRMS is a complex software application that applies information management principles to control and manage corporate documents.

The organisational wide project consists of four phases: an Information Audit, Preparation, Implementation and Business Adoption.

The first phase of the project, the Information Audit, is complete. Our current information architecture, both physical and electronic has been documented. Our scanning compliance has been reviewed. Information management issues have been identified. Our management of paper records has been assessed. Integration and migration options have been investigated.

The next phase is to work through our detailed requirements in order to go to tender for an EDRMS.

We hope to go to the market before June 30, 2015. Costs for delivering such a system could range from $350,000 through to $600,000 depending on the solution selected and functionality required.

We have $500,000 budgeted.

The project’s final phases are planned for completion by June 30 2016.

Andrew Dalziel
Chief Executive

 

Page reviewed: 09 Jul 2014 8:42am