Designing a records retention and disposition schedule for the National Forestry Authority Records Department
Arinaitwe, Beryl Birungi
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A records retention and disposal schedule is a systematic listing or description of organizations records which indicates the arrangements to be made for their custody, retention and final disposition. National Forestry Authority is the body of the Ugandan central government that is responsible for managing the country's Central Forest Reserves. According to their 2013 management annual report, staff and key stakeholders experienced major delays and challenges in finding various information. Hence the purpose of our study was to design a retention and disposition schedule for the organisation. The research objectives were to find out the types of records, how the records are retained and disposed of, identify the challenges facing the disposition schedule therein making appropriate recommendations. Methodology we used a cross sectional study design to collect both the primary and secondary data. Using purposive sampling to select the respondents. Interview guide, questionnaires and observation guides were used as data collection tools. The study population included all workers and administrators in the records department except non-officers. The raw data was entered, verified and interpreted using SPSS computer software, creating an electronic database secured with a password. Findings.The organization information is classified under legal records, policy records, governing records, administrative records, reporting records, operational records, organizational records, research records and archives majority of which is kept in hard copy. The applied retention methods are; records filing, file tracking, file census, records access restriction, weeding and records appraisal. The NFA records disposition methods are burning, shredding, recycling and transfer to the archive/storage. Some of the challenges we identified were limited trained records personnel, premature disposition, lack of enough equipment, outdated regulation policies and guidelines for the management of both paper and electronic records. Conclusion Having a hard copy retention and manual disposition inclined system exposes the organisation to increased risk due to human error. Our finding highlighted various incidences of loss of information due to poor storage, misfiling and premature disposition. They have a parallel system of excel filling however these digital records are rarely updated and are stored offline which restricts their accessibility. Therefore, there is pressing need for training and adopting of a better retention and disposition system and schedule at National Forest Authority. Recommendation from our finding, we recommend that NFA adopt to our tailored retention and disposal schedule/system which factors in easier record tracking through storage space mapping, emphasis records digitalization, regular records department staff training, organisation wide sensitization on current laws, regulations and policies on retention and disposition and construction of more storage facilities.