Progressive Digital Migration Project

Posted on Wednesday, 23 November 2016

By Khuthala Adam

Category: Latest News

The two-year Integrated Document Management and Human Resource File Restoration Project is at an advanced stage since it was launched in June 2016. Over 450 000 files have been captured of the expected 2 000 tons that have been collected from 24 Eastern Cape Education districts. The files are stored and captured at a Central Records Management Centre (CRMC) in East London.

Following the mammoth task of collecting and transporting files under a strict schedule and security, files that have been accumulating within the districts in the past 30 years, were transferred to the central secure facility within a week. The initial Sorting and Ordering process was the first point of contact.

Files have been recorded systematically on the TrackIT system, linking the files by using Persal numbers. The sorting process included files being sorted by current active employee and stored by district and inactive employees by financial year. This process forms the master set of information that is then referenced to transfer the files into a preconfigured Registry of files.

This Registry then provides the opportunity to transform the physical registry into digital registry with a predefined set of processes that monitor completeness of information and authentication of the file contents.

As part of the Department’s transformation process, the next phase, to be kick-started in a few weeks time, will involve a File Content Audit check by various audit firms, Authentication for compliance with the National Minimum Information Requirements and Qualifications Verification.

A fully functional Help Desk has been established to administer the requests for Access to Information. It is accessible to all preauthorised personnel with the relevant security clearance levels. Files can only be released in compliance with the newly developed ECDOE’s Human Resources department Information Access Control Policy.

To ensure compliance this risk mitigation factor is applied to assure the employees confidential records remain confidential.

The access and handling of information has been controlled by the security measures implemented at the warehouse.  The comprehensive security is considered world class to ensure the safety of records. Every single employee, including management, has been verified with respect to prior criminal records. There are armed guards 24/7, 24 hour video surveillance, double electric fencing and security escort for every visitor that has authorisation to be at the CRMC. Everyone is physically searched on entry and exit and will not be allowed in if they are not authorised and have the necessary identification.

Selection of staff to operate within this facility was carefully considered and just less than 300 unemployed IT graduates and qualified staffers are on the floor between 6am and 10 pm daily ensuring proper handling, recording, and digitisation of files. The key processing clerks (capturers) have been sourced and trained in the Eastern Cape to ensure accuracy and professional care of the files.

This digitisation transformation process is necessitated by the need to ensure that records are properly created, maintained, utilised and disposed of, to achieve efficient, transparent and accountable governance.

The extent of volume is based on the following facts, the status quo is: 83 000 employees, 62 000 of these being educators, each with five file types - that amounts to approximately 450 000 files - two million learners, 6 000 schools, 23 districts across a 168 966 square kilometre province, which is the size of Uruguay.

Prior to June 2016, the 450 000 files and other related documents were being operated manually and were all paper based at 24 districts. Administratively this has always been a challenging nightmare and, as a result, a lot of key information has potentially fallen through the cracks - lost personal files, inability to process pension payouts, leave gratuities, and a proliferation of problems for our employees.

Acting Superintendent General of the Department of Education in the Eastern Cape, Sizakele Netshilaphala, assured all district registry employees that there will be no job loses emanating from this process, but rather the transformation of the file management and the digitisation process would enhance the working experience of the Registry clerk’s jobs will be made much easier and more transparent.

Early in 2017 the benefits realised by the above processes will become more tangible at District level as the sharing and transfer of information become more accessible.

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