Reconstructing the Past for Organizational Accountability

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    Abstract

    Many organizations have undergone substantial reorganization in the last decade. They re-engineered their business processes and exchanged proprietary, not integrated applications for more standard solutions. Integration of structured data in relational databases has improved documentation of business transactions and increased data quality. But almost 90% of the information that organizations manage is unstructured, cannot easily be integrated into a traditional database. When used for organizational actions and transactions, structured and unstructured information are records. They are meant and used as evidence. Governments, courts and other stakeholders are making increasing demands for the trustworthiness of records. An analysis of literature of the information, organization and archival sciences illustrates that accountability needs the reconstruction of the past. Hypothesis of this paper is that for the reconstruction of the past each organization needs a combination of three
    mechanisms: enterprise records management, organizational memory and records auditing. Enterprise records management ensures that records meet the quality requirements needed for accountability: integrity, authenticity, controllability and historicity. They ensure records that can be trusted and enhance the possibilities for the reconstruction of the past. The organizational memory ensures that trusted records are preserved for as long as is necessary to comply with accountability regulations. It provides an ICT infrastructure to (indefinitely) store those records and to keep them accessible. Records auditing researches the first two mentioned mechanisms to assess the possibility to reconstruct past organizational actions and transactions. These mechanisms ensure that organizations have a documented understanding of [1] the processing of actions and transactions within business processes; [2] the dissemination of trusted records; [3] the way the organization accounts for the actions and transactions within its business processes; and [4] the reconstruction of actions and transactions from business processes over time. This understanding is crucial for the reconstruction of the past and for organizational accountability.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)127-137
    Number of pages11
    JournalElectronic journal of information systems evaluation
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

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