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The management of official records in public institutions in Sri Lanka 1802-1990.

Wickramanayaka, Sarath Sisira Kumara; (1994) The management of official records in public institutions in Sri Lanka 1802-1990. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D.), University College London. Green open access

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This study examines the management patterns of public records in Sri Lanka and their impact on administration during the period 1802 to 1990. This covers the period of British colonial administration and four decades of the post independence era. The study shows that during British colonial administration the administrators did not have an adequate understanding of the necessity of developing a proper record-keeping system to support the efficiency of the administration. The failure of repeated attempts at improving the management of current records testifies to the shortfalls entrenched in the system such as the inadequacy of suitable training for the subordinate staff and the lack of attention to the semi-current phase of records. These were not properly detected by the authorities even up to the date of independence. A significant drawback of the system was that its scope was not extended to cover the entire life cycle of the records. It was assumed that semi-current and non-current records would not be useful to the administration. This situation led to the accumulation of records in the creating agencies which in turn caused long term problems in terms of retrieval and dissemination of information. The necessity of an archives was recognised in the beginning of the twentieth century. However, once established the aim of the Archives was to retain records of the Dutch administration for current administrative requirements. Therefore, the records of the British colonial administration were not transferred to the Archives until the last decade of the colonial rule. Even after independence the Archives staff were primarily concerned with the appraisal, accessioning and disposal of non-current records; insufficient attention was paid to semi-current records. The lack of trained professionals, inadequate funding and narrowly defined work programmes hindered the development of a comprehensive archives. Since independence, changes in the country's major political, constitutional, social and administrative systems have not been paralleled by the development of systems to manage public records. An examination of the record-keeping practices in the public administration has revealed the fact that the bureaucrats have not yet grasped the necessity of proper management of records and their immediate contribution to the efficiency of the administration. They have still not considered the consequence of the lack of an integrated policy for the management of records. The study concludes by stressing the necessity for new legislation, the creation of a separate record service, reorganisation of the Archives and training for public administration personnel. It is suggested that records managers be recruited to the public administration in order to bridge the prevailing gap between the archivists and the administrators. They should be trained and placed at the public institutions as officers responsible for managing records at the current and semi-current phases. On the whole, it is argued that improvement in all phases of the life cycle of records is vital for the efficiency of the public administration and for the advancement of the country.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D.
Title: The management of official records in public institutions in Sri Lanka 1802-1990.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10103328
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