I recently heard from Sarah Demb, a fellow Canadian now working with the International Records Management Trust in London. The IRMT fills an interesting niche in the governance world:

The Trust was set up in 1989 to help develop new strategies for managing public sector records. Records are so fundamental to democracy that governments and international organisations often take it for granted that records will be there to underpin constitutional arrangements. However, over the last several decades there has been a deterioration in the management of official records, with consequences for efficiency, effectiveness, accountability, the protection of human rights services to citizens, poverty reduction strategies and the rule of law.

The Trust works to address challenge, particularly in the developing world. Through their consulting services,

The Trust works with local policy makers and records professionals to develop and introduce effective and sustainable legal and regulatory frameworks, policies, systems, procedures and facilities. We have now delivered projects successfully in over 25 countries.

Sarah has been managing the IRMT’s creation of a new software tool, the Records Management Capacity Assessment System (RMCAS).

RMCAS, funded by the World Bank, has been designed to help assess records and information systems in the public sector. The rapid growth of information technology presents significant challenges for capturing and preserving fragile digital evidence over time. In this increasingly complex environment, The Trust’s aim has been to offer an objective means of evaluating whether the infrastructure and capacity exist to manage records effectively and, at the same time, to provide a methodology to identify problems and begin to plan solutions.

The RMCAS is just one part of a larger toolkit that the IRMT has developed to help developing countries assess and enhance their readiness for e-government and digital records management. It’s a very useful resource for anyone looking for practical tools for e-government or digital development.