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Provincial archivist calls growth of public records 'unbelievable'

JIM DAY/TC MEDIA Provincial Archivist Jill MacMicken-Wilson answers a question from the Standing Committee on Public Accounts Wednesday as Scott Cudmore, director of Enterprise Architecture, looks on.
JIM DAY/TC MEDIA Provincial Archivist Jill MacMicken-Wilson answers a question from the Standing Committee on Public Accounts Wednesday as Scott Cudmore, director of Enterprise Architecture, looks on.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — The provincial archivist says “lack of resources’’ results in the loss of some public records meant to be maintained.

Jill MacMicken-Wilson says compliance with records retention policies and procedures has been “very difficult’’ for government departments.

She was briefing the Standing Committee on Public Accounts Wednesday in the wake of the province’s failed e-gaming scheme.

Auditor general Jane MacAdam found records that should have been retained by government were not available in some cases, including emails of three former senior government executives that were deleted.

Committee members failed, through questioning MacMicken-Wilson and Scott Cudmore, the director of Enterprise Architecture, who gave a brief on email account deletions, in learning any new details on the scandal that saw government lose more than $1.5 million after a plan to make P.E.I. a regulator for Internet gaming collapsed in 2012.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions,’’ said Conservative Kensington-Malpeque MLA Matthew MacKay who led the unsuccessful grilling.

Rather, MacMicken-Wilson and Cudmore focussed on detailing efforts being made to improve the Recorded Information Management (RIM) system.

Cudmore says roughly $5 million will be invested over the next three years to upgrade capacity for recorded information management within government.

MacMicken-Wilson says a full-time record analyst and additional RIM staff will be hired to address an overwhelmed system.

Jill MacMicken-Wilson says compliance with records retention policies and procedures has been “very difficult’’ for government departments.

She was briefing the Standing Committee on Public Accounts Wednesday in the wake of the province’s failed e-gaming scheme.

Auditor general Jane MacAdam found records that should have been retained by government were not available in some cases, including emails of three former senior government executives that were deleted.

Committee members failed, through questioning MacMicken-Wilson and Scott Cudmore, the director of Enterprise Architecture, who gave a brief on email account deletions, in learning any new details on the scandal that saw government lose more than $1.5 million after a plan to make P.E.I. a regulator for Internet gaming collapsed in 2012.

“There are a lot of unanswered questions,’’ said Conservative Kensington-Malpeque MLA Matthew MacKay who led the unsuccessful grilling.

Rather, MacMicken-Wilson and Cudmore focussed on detailing efforts being made to improve the Recorded Information Management (RIM) system.

Cudmore says roughly $5 million will be invested over the next three years to upgrade capacity for recorded information management within government.

MacMicken-Wilson says a full-time record analyst and additional RIM staff will be hired to address an overwhelmed system.

“The growth of records, both paper and electronic, since 2002 has been unbelievable,’’ she told The Guardian.

“Because of that incredible growth, we have to find new ways to deal with the shear volume of records that are produced every day.’’

MacMicken-Wilson says both RIM staff and government employees in general need further training.

“We are still looking at options for that, whether that is some group sessions (or) whether we can devise a new online module that all new employees would take as soon as they are hired with government,’’ she explains.

“I think that anybody that is creating records in government should have a solid understanding of their record management responsibilities and our goal is to get to that point that they do…developing capacity within government to deal with the volume of records that we are creating and that we need to maintain is something that all of us need to do.’’

In November, the government released a three-year strategy to increase the level of RIM compliance in government departments, agencies and commissions.

The province noted at the time that all 15 recommendations in the auditor general's e-gaming report had been implemented.

As well, Finance Minister Allan Roach promised whistleblower legislation and legislation to strengthen records management policies and procedures will be introduced in the spring session of the legislature.

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