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Managing Public Sector Records in Sierra Leone: A Sample Academic Research Proposal
Sierra Leone lies on the West coast of Africa with a distance of 28,000 square miles in length and bordered on the West by Guinea and Liberia with a population of seven million and ninety-two thousand one hundred and thirteen(7,092,113). It has a great diversity in the area of natural components that comprise varied topography, climatic condition as well as vegetation patterns. Sierra Leone has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of less than 7.5 %, with a low per capita income of citizens. The rationale for this appalling figure of GDP can be partly attributed to the mismanagement of resources( human and materials) which are not accounted for via supporting records for the overall development of the country. Thus the lack of transparency and accountability through records has often been the chronic records management problems which affect every Ministries, Departments and Agency (MDAs). The chronic records management problems have been the contributing factors for the suffering of a vast majority of Sierra Leoneans which cast the blame squarely on bad governance. This situation has been manifested in the political dispensation of the past and present governments over the control of resources (human and materials) for the overall development of the country. As good governance issues become immensely important, records keeping should be attentively paid to. This is evidenced in the rights and responsibilities of people as records have unlimited primary value. On this note, it could be realised that any modern economy which cannot highly regard record keeping hardly develop without the existence of good information. This is because information is considered a commodity essential to planning for national development in such an economy. In this vein the researcher propose to investigate about the records management situation at Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MOFED) in enhancing accountability and transparency(sustainable development) in Sierra Leone.
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Over the years a lot of issues have been uncovered as pivotal to the current problems and important to the future success of public sector records management in Africa, Sierra Leone to be specific:
The ineffective use of legal framework that protects the decision making about record classification, preservation, and destruction of records is often made in an abrupt manner.
Record keeping issues cannot be achieved without the training of records personnel at the public sector.
It is still a truism that Record Managers are not well paid in terms of salary compared to other informational practitioners such as accountants and finance officers and little appreciation of their task. This low profile is basically the result of inadequate resources for records keeping.
The lack of research programmes to promote records management issues more widely within and outside government to highlight the important of quality records keeping for the delivery of accountable, effective and efficient, and transparent government.
The lack of accessibility to well-organised records which can be used to formulate, implement, and maintained effective services. In Sierra Leone it is a common practice in both government and private departments for records officers to lose and misfile record because of disorganized systems.
The value of records and the information they contain, as well as their potential for exploitation, in support of good governance (sustainable development), is not fully appreciated and understood across Sierra Leone society.
Thus based on these problems highlighted above, the need to research on public sector records to enhancing good governance prompted the researcher to investigate about the record management situation at public sector organisations specifically MoFED.
1.2 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main Aim of the study will be to critically assess whether or not public sector records are created and managed effectively and efficiently at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) in enhancing good governance, transparency and accountability in administration. While the main objective of the study is to investigate whether or not there is a records management department headed by the records manager in taking proper custody of all ministry records.
1.3 RELEVANCE OF THE STUDY
The relevance of this study cannot be overemphasized. The study is relevant to the following beneficiaries.
Foremost is the Government of Sierra Leone as sponsoring agent in disbursing funds for the setting of organisation-wide standard for the cost of specific file equipment and devices for the management of records. This will enhance the government to reduce expenditure for records management equipment and supply in maintaining the budget-line standard. Also it will create improvement of the overall efficiency and productivity in an organisation when cost-benefit approach is maintained.
Also, the researcher is of the opinion that the study will serve as a resource material for the management of records across Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of which MoFED is no exception. It will also enhance disaster management approach for quicker and better management decisions across MDAs.
Further, staff at MoFED will find the study beneficial as they will be capacitated in the management of records and archival administration. For instance huge cost is involved in processing of MoFED records, yet they have no staff assigned to the duty of reviewing records policies and procedures, if any, with the objective of reducing cost. Thus the MoFED staff will be trained for this task.
Furthermore, the study is relevant to the MoFED administration/registry staff as it will provide a good model which can be developed into appropriate record management and archival procedures for implementation. Virtually, MoFED administration should hold all records about the Ministry and so their registry/administration staff should assimilate the emerging records management technologies.
Finally, the public more so users and researchers, will find the study relevant as it enables them to have a better understanding of the management of records, and will ensure that their records are well kept and appraised. Thus the right to access information by the public will be enhanced for accountability and transparency.
1.4 DESIGN OF THE STUDY
The study will consider certain variables related to the creation and management of public sector records at MoFED. These are policies, guidelines, and standards; facilities, equipment and supplies; current, semi-current and non-current records; preservation, security and training competency; disposition and retention; ICT; good governance (sustainable development), transparency, accountability and corruption; users etc.
In this study the population will be stratified into three categories: Contract Officer (CO), Civil Servant Officers (CSO) and other staff at MoFED. And the sampling method to be used is the simple stratified randomized sampling method because of it heterogeneous nature of the population and homogeneous in stratum.The intended samples sizes will be: 30 Civil Servant Officers, 20 Contract Officers, and 10 for other staff respectively.
Also, the methodology for this study will be both qualitative and quantitative methods. For qualitative method observation and interviews will be conducted and information will also be elicited from text books, journals and internet; and for quantitative method questionnaires will be administered in collecting data. The author has already made an exploratory interview from some senior and junior staff relating to the aforementioned variables to be incorporated into the questionnaire for the main study.
Finally, for quantitative research method the treated data will be presented/scored in varied formats in the subsequent chapters: tabulations, charts, graphs etc, and then interpreted and analyzed based on specific objectives relating to the management of records at MoFED. A Z-score and Probility value will be used to test hypothesis to prove whether or not good records keeping enhance transparency and accountability at MoFED adminstrtion.
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