Recordkeeping and disaster management in public sector institutions in Ghana

Published date19 November 2018
Date19 November 2018
AuthorCatherine Asamoah,Harry Akussah,Adams Musah
Recordkeeping and disaster
management in public sector
institutions in Ghana
Catherine Asamoah
University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana, and
Harry Akussah and Adams Musah
Department of Information Studies, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana
Purpose The purpose of this study is to examine the disaster management procedures and measures
adopted by public institutions inmanaging their information resources with a view to identifying possible
problemsand making recommendations for their resolution.
Design/methodology/approach Questionnaires, interviews and observation were used to collect
data from 65 respondents from 19 ministries and ve respondents from the Public Records and
Archives Administration Department (PRAAD) and the National Disaster Management Organization
(NADMO). Descriptive statistics and content analysis were used to analyze the data collected for the
Findings In the 19 ministries surveyed, the ndings revealed high levelsof unpreparedness to manage
disastersconcerning public records. The study also revealedthe exposure of the ministries to variouskinds of
risks in their operations,and the lack of coordination between the heads of public sector institutions,NADMO
and PRAAD. Also, inadequatebudgetary allocation for the records department of the ministries and PRAAD
was identied.
Research limitations/implications The study concentrated on the headquarters (HQ) of the
ministries because they are the administrative headquarters of public sector institutions and they make
policies that are complied with by all the Regional and District branches as well as the Departments and
Agencies in executing their tasks. The major limitation of the study was the inability of the researcher to
cover all the ministries.
Practical implications The recommendations made included cooperation among heads of the
ministries, PRAAD and NADMO to develop a national information disaster management plan for the
effective managementof public records and information and a comprehensiveprogram in public institutions
to orientatestaff on information disaster management.
Social implications The study set the tone for public sector institutions and other institutions in the
same area of operation to reviewthe processes and procedures with regard to recordkeeping.Also, the study
is anticipated to draw the attentionof policy-makers (management of the ministries) and regulatorybodies in
the eld of records and disaster management (PRAAD and NADMO) to review their plans and policies to
make provisionfor information disaster management.
Originality/value The study is a research paper and critically looks at the disaster preparedness of
public sector institutions in managing their records/information. It also examines whether there are any
collaboration and coordination among public sector institutions in Ghana in having disaster preparedness
and managementplan to safeguard public records/information.
Keywords Disaster management, Recordkeeping, Disaster preparedness plan,
National disaster management organization (NADMO),
Public records and archives administration (PRAAD), Public sector institutions
Paper type Research paper
Received11 January 2018
Revised14 March 2018
Accepted22 April 2018
RecordsManagement Journal
Vol.28 No. 3, 2018
pp. 218-233
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/RMJ-01-2018-0001
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Organizations have one thing in common, that is, they all produce records. These records
contain information,which is one of the essential resources in every organization worldwide.
What people achieve in organizations depends mainly on the information they acquire and
how well they manage and use their information resources, including records. According to
Robek et al. (2002), information has no value unless it is used, and for it to be used
effectively, it must be readily accessibleto those who need it.
One of the key threats to the safety and preservationof ofcial records and information is
the risk of disaster. There are many kinds of disasters, and one is information disaster.
Information disaster is any event that destroys information resources. Most institutions,
especially records and archives management institutions refer to disasters to information
resources (records)as records disasters(StateRecords of South Australia, 2007).
Limited access to resources such as funds for the maintenance of facilities, training and
educating staff on disaster preparedness and recordkeeping makes most organizations
vulnerable to disasters (Mnjama, 2004). It is essential for organizations to conduct risk
assessments to know where they are vulnerable in terms of disasters and nd appropriate
ways to alleviate them. Accordingto Matthews and Feather (2003), risk assessment involves
systematic and effectiveway of collecting, organizing and analyzing information about risk,
while developing strategies to manage and alleviate risk is referred to as risk management.
Disasters are likely to have a negative impact on staff, customers, the public, the
organization itself and the governmentin terms of the extent of damage, especially to lives,
property and valuable records (Documents and Records Management Professionals, 2011).
These valuable records which are mostly classied as vital record (legal documents,
nancial records, operational records, commercial records, intellectual capital and disaster
recovery plan) are essential for the managementof businesses and its continuity (backup) in
case of disasters (JISC Infonet, 2014). Disaster management can help prevent such negative
impacts and, shouldthey occur, help minimize their effects.
Disaster management involvesplanning, being prepared for the unexpected and dealing
with disasters effectively should they occur. According to New York State Archives(2012),
disaster management is not a functionof one organization working on its own but involves
the co-operation and co-ordination of experts, professionals and agencies, such as social
services, administration, logistics and health. Therefore, it needsto be carefully considered
and properly planned, andall staff need to be made aware of the various risks to the items in
their care and what is expectedof them in a disaster situation (Matthews and Feather, 2003).
The very survival of an organization may depend on whether vital business records have
been protected and are available for use immediately following a disaster (Robek et al.,
2002). Morgan and Smith (1997)wrote that:
[...] disaster management involves the development of a disaster plan which can be described as
a set of rehearsed action which will reduce the likelihood of a disaster occurring and further also
reduce the extent of damage should a disaster occur.
Every public institution in Ghana has a duty to performto merit its continued existence for
national development. Thus, the study focuses on disaster management as a fundamental
part of records management in public sector institutions in Ghana and, hence, the need for
Public sector institutions in Ghana
The term public sector here refers to the 23 ministries and their subordinate departments
and agencies under the control of the government of Ghana (Government of Ghana, 2015).
and disaster

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