I read with interest the circular “HCSF/3057/Vol.1/77” issued by the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation of Nigeria, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan to all MDAs dated June 22, 2020 titled “Digitisation of files and other records in MDAs”.
It stated that;
“The incidence of COVID-19 has, therefore, become a catalyst to accelerate the implementation of the initiative. To this end, all MDAs are expected to commence the process of digitisation/automation of their files and other records without further delay.”
“… MDAs would be required to forward a quarterly report on the progress made on the implementation to her office”.
Digitisation incorporates converting paper documents into a computer-readable format, and one way to do this is document scanning. Through the use of a scanning device, hard copy documents are converted into an image for more efficient storage, security, and management.
As crucial as the digitization of files and other records are, the first step is not to start scanning immediately. It is recommended that a road map is created by HCSF through the department of National Archives of Nigeria of the Federal Ministry of Information & Culture to achieve uniformity of the digitization exercise and its success.
The National Archives Act 1992 needs to be reviewed with an inclusion for “Document Control Procedure for all MDAs Digitization”
This procedure should be used to enforce standard, provide consistent direction to all MDAs. It will be used to define document nomenclature; resolution in dpi/ppi/bpi; allowed image enhancement; lossless or lossy compression tiff/pdf/jpg/png; type of storage media, how digitized files will be linked to physical files, legal compliance, etc. for the digitisation of files and other records.
The HCSF opting for MDAs to maintain digital images in electronic form medium for ease of access and remote work means a long-term commitment of resources. The implementation of policies must be pragmatic, effective and systematic in control. Moreover, the MDAs will find it almost impossible to manage all digitization/automation of files without a well-defined and efficient document management system.
For the Government of Nigeria to implement digitization programs, all MDAs need to evaluate and ensure they meet both their business requirements and the legal requirement to preserve these official records.
Indeed, MDAs will specifically benefit from the digitization exercise – faster searchability, improved accessibility, reclaimed physical space, increased productivity, enhanced security, etc. The potential benefits cannot be underestimated.
Writer: Julius Macaulay 24:06:2020
Julius is the Director/Principal Consultant at Tecres Technologies (www.tecres.com.ng). He has 15+ years’ experience in document and records management and consultancy. He holds a Master’s degree in Information Technology with special interest in “the paperless office”.