Whenever people ask me about my co-op, and I say, “I work for the Federal Government of Canada,” the reactions I receive are a mix of shock and excitement. To be honest, I felt the same way at the beginning. I am grateful to be able to work for the federal government – not to mention that it’s my very first co-op! Working for the Federal Government of Canada has definitely given me some idea of what path I want to take in the future. This co-op experience goes best hand in hand with my Criminology studies. More specifically, this agency has an array of opportunities by expanding my knowledge and exploring new areas. I also get the opportunity to network and interact with such diverse groups of people. It is a pleasure to meet new and wonderful people all around the building, coming from different backgrounds and hearing stories from their daily lives, which makes the workplace feel less like work. I have nothing negative to mention, but only benefits with this co-op.
About the Information Management Branch
I work at a unit that holds and handles over 200,000 records! This section within the Information Management (IM) and Technology branch covers the administrative perspective of the information management life cycle, which provides services to various internal clients within the policing agency. The IM section that serves as a resource centre for all forms of records – from historical records to present litigation cases – is the Administrative Information Management (AIM). As a unit, the Information Management Specialists function as the record keepers and consultants for our internal clients to keep the system organized and running. They meet up with their clients to offer advice and guidance for the management of their records and business processes in order to comply with our policies.
The Information Management branch is responsible for developing, implementing, communicating, and maintaining information. Furthermore, we provide project management expertise to implement new initiatives and special projects, such as transitioning other units to use our electronic document records management system, and eventually, this system will be used by nearly all federal departments and agencies in the future. This strategy is a step to move forward with technology and away from the traditional paperwork. There have also been some changes in policy to the storage of files, such as archival files; therefore, the units must transition to our electronic document records management system to have a more accessible and collaborative platform. For example, in Ottawa, loose document materials will no longer be accepted in the near future, or else these materials will be destroyed or returned to its source. Physical file folders and paper will also no longer be accepted by Records Offices as well. This is the IM’s initiative to a more digital landscape. The IM branch’s role into this digital shift is to issue guidance on file management, and to propose a digital strategy to our internal clients.
The Value of Information Management
When an individual thinks of administrative work, he or she thinks of paperwork. You know what? That’s exactly what I experienced on my first day. I had to sort through six enormous piles of loose document materials and file them all away in the shelves. Later on, I found out that our office was in a major backlog for months and I had to be flexible and adaptable to this new environment. Successfully enough, we managed to clear up the backlog within a month and I would say that it was one of the greatest accomplishments we ever achieved. The enormous amounts of paperwork are still around even though we are living in a generation where everything is all about technology. However, IM is slowly moving towards digitization, and this means that business processes are heading in a new direction by focusing on better services. Our internal clients must start looking for digital solutions.
The lifecycle management of most files are long-term and follows multiple stages. It starts from IM planning, which focuses on the retention periods of each file and how the file must comply with our policy. It then goes on to the creation and collection of information, towards the organization of the client’s information or file inventory. Subsequently, the information is used and disseminated. The following stage focuses on the maintenance, protection, and preservation of information, such as who has the authorization to the file. The disposition of the file is the penultimate stage, and it can be done in three different ways: archive, destruction and alienation. The last stage of the lifecycle is the evaluation of files by assessing the current processes and amending or fixing the previous steps and agreements between the client and the IM Specialist. Information Management fundamentally provides an easy access for information, making it centralized in our unit.