National Archives - Kew Tips?

Discussion in 'Research Material' started by von Poop, Oct 2, 2008.

  1. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    The Non-Executive Directors' minutes for last December appeared on the Kew website a few days ago, and item 2 is of interest.

    " 2.0 Freedom of Information (FOI) Demand for Service Personnel Records
    2.1 The Board received a report providing an update on the scale of the FOI demand relating to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Service Personnel Records Transfer project, including risks and mitigations and possible wider impacts on the organisation.
    2.2 LF introduced the report and set out the challenges around our compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and provided an update on the FOI Action Plan, as agreed with the Information Commission’s Office (ICO) to support us in improving our FOI performance. She also set out the multifaceted approach going forwards, which included:
    • preparing a business case to submit to HM Treasury for scaling up the FOI team to meet demand;
    • driving discussions at official and ministerial level to surface the issue with the Cabinet Office, who are the policy lead for the FOIA;
    • reviewing the Fees Order for the potential of introducing a new charging model;
    • delivering catalogue improvements to make open records available through record
    copying or the reading room, therefore reducing the reliance of the FOI regime to access the records.
    2.3 There was a wider discussion around our appetite to outsource the FOI function. There was also a discussion around the drivers for access demand, which was noted to be largely from those interested in family history. Ancestry, the family history community more generally and the MoD themselves have been activity promoting the records, which has fed demand. The Board suggested looking at ways of managing FOI demand, including reviewing communications, whilst maintaining transparency and acting with integrity. LF provided assurance that a communications strategy was in place.
    2.4 Noting the scale of the issue and the resources required to meet the current and predicted access demand for the records, the Board expressed concern over significantly expanding the size of the organisation to deliver FOI responsibilities, which would have an impact on our strategy Archives for Everyone and potentially change the nature of the organisation.
    2.5 Access demand for Parliamentary Archives records and the risk of the project having an adverse impact on our FOI performance were also discussed. The Board received assurance that the Parliamentary Archives Project Steering Group were looking at this.
    2.6 Overall, the Board was supportive of the multifaceted approach and the options presented. The Board noted that the ICO and ministers in general were sympathetic to our burden, but there were risks associated with non-compliance with the FOIA.
    2.7 The Board
    (i) Welcomed and noted the update, specifically the current challenges posed by rising demand and progress made in addressing these challenges to date;
    (ii) Supported the multifaceted approach set out in the paper to mitigate risk;
    (iii) Endorsed having clear governance and assurance and asked to be kept updated; and
    (iv) Suggested, from a lessons-learned perspective, taking a risk-based approach and assessing impact upon business priorities when making decisions on future projects."
    brithm and Shazbaz like this.
  2. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Time marches on, and the retiring Keeper of The National Archives, Jeff James, gave an update and reflection on his time in office - actually nearly three months ago, but only just appeared on the Kew website - on March 19th last. See item 7 at this link:

    "7. Update & Reflection (JJ)
    JJ reflected on the highlights of the last 10 years, noting the successes, as well as the challenges.
    These included:
    • Becoming a more commercially focused archive – raising income from Licensing &
    Royalties and managing the accounting and financial forecasting challenges around
    • Delivering key digitisation projects such as the Farm Survey, 1939 Register and 1921
    • Engaging in key partnerships with the UAE National Library & Archives and The
    Gazettes which brings in substantive income.
    • Increasing our visibility and transforming our international presence, particularly in
    • Becoming a more confident and assertive archive with strong relationships with
    government departments, research institutions and commercial partners.
    • Becoming more inclusive through digital projects related to migrated archive (FCO
    141) and having a more diverse Board to support the organisation’s direction of
    • Delivering successful exhibitions and education engagement programmes, such as
    Great Escapes, Windrush, touring of the Spirit of Invention and the Magna Carta.
    • Expanding our digital services, such as launching ‘Transfer Digital Records’, which
    enables records to be transferred digitally from government departments and
    expanding it to deliver Find Case Law.
    • Creating a ‘safe haven’ for 20 million digital records of the Ukraine National Archives.
    UAG Minutes 6
    • Embarking on one of the largest transfer projects – 10million MoD service personnel
    In terms of external factors which have impacted the organisation, JJ noted Covid-19 and our
    response by making digital records available for free; EU exit and securing additional funding to
    deliver legal certainty through Legislation services; and the end of the transition to the 20-year
    rule which has been delivered for government and has one year remaining for local authority
    places of deposit.
    Looking ahead at the future and some of the challenges, JJ noted a general election, potential
    pressure on public spending, preparations for a Spending Review. More, longer-term he noted
    storage challenges which TNA was currently investigating and recruiting digital skilled staff.
    Cyber security was also on the agenda, following the British Library incident. He concluded by
    informing delegates about the launch of ‘Archives Unlocked’ – a refresh of the government’s
    vision for Archives.
    This was followed by a question and answer session which centred on the following themes:
    • Activities and challenges of the cataloguing team and their role in making the
    Parliamentary Archives collection available and accessible on our technological
    • Strategic prioritisation choices in a resource constrained environment and an
    explanation of activities that relate to TNA’s Public Task around the preservation of
    records, versus public value, such as our education and exhibitions programme.
    Over the years, TNA has tried to make sure access and engagement is as much part
    of its responsibilities as preservation.
    • TNA’s outreach activities and its role and reach as a ‘national’ institution versus the
    constraints of its geographical location and looking at innovative ways to overcome
    this i.e. prioritising digital access to records nationally and internationally, through
    delivering leadership to the archives sector and broadcasting from the Learning
    Centre to reach audiences beyond London.
    • The various powers of the Keeper as set out in the Public Records Act, Letters Patent
    and Royal Warrants.
    • The risks of seeing digitisation as a cost-effective way of avoiding expensive storage
    and the value in retaining and preserving original records."
  3. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    " I am perhaps one of the few entirely paperless judges." Quote from an article in "Counsel" magazine for July 2024, about the current Master of the Rolls, Chair of the Kew Advisory Committee, Sir Geoffrey Vos.


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