Archives still lack right care, but bid for law fails

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 November, 2011, 12:00am


Government archives are still not being properly cared for despite a survey nine years ago that found a third of 1,600 selected records were deteriorating - and some have been destroyed without authorisation by government bureaus or departments, the Audit Commission says.

As lawmakers voted down a motion calling for an archive law, the commission urged the government to speed up establishment of an electronic record-keeping system.

The commission said in a report released yesterday that an investigation of management work by the Government Records Service this year found government records were still susceptible to poor storage and improper management.

This was despite preservation strategies suggested after a survey by a conservation adviser in 2002 which found 30 per cent of 1,600 selected government records had deteriorated. A check by the commission of some non-paper archival records in June this year also found a strong acidic smell, suggesting they might also have deteriorated. No condition survey has been carried out by the records service since the 2002 exercise.

In the report, four government departments were criticised for neglecting guidelines requiring them to report to the service when records are lost or destroyed.

They are the Fire Services Department, police force, Office of the Telecommunications Authority and Social Welfare Department.

Chief Secretary Stephen Lam Sui-lung said the government was taking administrative measures to respond to the commissioner's criticism. Speaking in the Legco debate on enacting an archive law, Lam said legislation was not the only way for effective archives preservation - photo exhibition was also a way.

'There is not an urgent need to have an archive law,' he said.