Email record keeping in the government sector: a case study of Malaysia

Mutalib, Siti Khairunnisa Sheikh Abdul (2018) Email record keeping in the government sector: a case study of Malaysia. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral thesis)
Sheikh Abdul Mutalib.Siti_phd.pdf

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Email has become the main means of correspondence, displacing the letter with its conventions and procedures developed over centuries. Every organisation needs to develop and implement policies to manage email as records of evidence of transactions and as a source of information. This study aimed to critically explore the management of email in the context of the management of information and record keeping in the transition to the digital. The objectives of the study were: To explore the legal and regulatory environment in relation to the Malaysian Government and the information it creates and holds; to explore the evolution of email recordkeeping by the Malaysian Government; to critically review existing policies, guidelines and systems for capturing and managing email by the Malaysian Government from a record keeping perspective; and to investigate the current practices in managing email in a selected part of the Malaysian Government against existing policies and guidelines, in part to determine if the latter were clear and unambiguous. It highlights the fact that no in-depth case study of email management has been published previously.

In the public sector there are many examples of poor email management. For instance, Michael Gove, when UK Secretary of State for Education, conducted government business using his wife’s personal email account; and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a personal email account and server for both government and personal business. The context of this thesis is the introduction by the Malaysian government of a project that will provide a free email account for every citizen over eighteen to allow them to access e-Government services through a single sign-on user ID, as part of the move to e-government in Malaysia to deliver its Vision 2020.

The research is based on a case study of the implementation of this initiative and the accompanying system for managing email at a selected government ministry in Malaysia; it is based on interviews with twelve participants with different roles across three departments and the two providers of policies and guidelines. The design of interview questions was based around the records continuum model and is four elements, the creation, capture, organisation and pluralisation of information.

The findings suggest that email has been accepted by the government as records and evidence mandated by Malaysia’s National Archives Act 2003. Yet not all government servants accept emails as records, largely as a consequence of poor project planning and faulty design of the Digital Document Management System (DDMS) for email management. The DDMS has been developed to ensure that the government manages its email, and other electronic records, according to international standards embodied in ISO 16175:2 (2011), which has been adopted nationally as MS ISO 16175:2 (2012).

The main factors influencing the implementation of the DDMS in the government sector are people, processes and technology. The DDMS project has been seen as an IT project, and not a records management project, and consequently has failed to meet the requirements for a digital records management system. This explains why some government servants are reluctant to accept email as a record.

Project management, change management and quality management should have been central during the system implementation process, but were found to be either inadequately addressed or completely overlooked. The findings conclude that email management can be markedly improved by promoting information culture and awareness of the importance of managing email records.

This case study contributes to the evolution of record keeping policy and practice in a former UK dependency during the transition to the digital environment and in the identification of good practice that could be applicable in other similar national government contexts.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Email Management, Email Record Keeping, Record Keeping Systems, E-government, Malaysia
Subjects: P100 Information Services
P900 Others in Mass Communications and Documentation
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Computer and Information Sciences
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Ay Okpokam
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2020 16:15
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2022 17:45

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