About Records and Recordkeeping

Records and information are key strategic assets of government and are the evidence of government business. In the Manitoba government, records and information help departments and agencies plan for and achieve short-term and long-term outcomes that benefit citizens, business, and government. They document priorities, planning, communications, activities, decisions, and transactions involving and affecting Manitobans.

Ensuring that evidence of government business is created, captured, and managed is not simply about legislative compliance. A well-managed information base is the foundation of responsible, accountable government and reliable records are needed to function effectively.

Beyond the business needs of government, good recordkeeping enables the preservation and use of records with continuing value to future generations.

Good recordkeeping by government supports accountability to the public and enables the preservation by the Archives of Manitoba of government records of lasting significance.

The Archives and Recordkeeping Act

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What are government records?

Government records are defined as recorded information in any form, created or received in the conduct of government business, and kept as evidence of activities and transactions. This includes records in all formats, including digital records.

Records are the product of activities – they are created or received in the normal course of business and deliberately captured. They are defined by their primary purpose and value, which is to provide needed evidence of actions and events.

Government is responsible for many different functions, activities, and services, and creates a wide range of records. These can include:

  • documents
  • maps and plans
  • correspondence and emails
  • agendas, minutes, and meeting packages
  • briefing and advisory notes, treasury board submissions
  • invoices, bills, estimates, and budgets
  • case files
  • photographs, text messages, digital audio recordings
  • and any other record created/received in the course of government work

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Why keep records?

Records contain information that is needed for the day-to-day work of government. Their purpose is to provide reliable evidence of, and information about, 'who, what, when, and why' something happened.

In some cases, the requirement to keep certain records is clearly defined by law, regulation, or professional practice. More often, recordkeeping is a matter of policy and good business practice, developed over time and "built into" work processes, to ensure that the organisation can:

  • refer to records of past transactions in order to perform subsequent actions
  • produce evidence of financial or contractual obligations, to avoid dispute or protect against legal liability
  • draw on evidence of past events to make informed decisions for the present and future
  • account for its actions and decisions when required to do so

The records of government also help to protect individual rights and entitlements, safeguard the public interest, and contribute to the historical record of Manitobans' personal and collective experience.

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What is “recordkeeping”?

Recordkeeping is the entire range of functions involved in creating and managing records and information throughout their life cycle. Recordkeeping includes the policies, procedures, and systems used in the management of records.

It includes:

  • creating and capturing records
  • organizing and using records
  • protecting and managing records
  • retaining and disposing of records

For more information on the phases of the life cycle of records, see Recordkeeping in the Manitoba Government.

Recordkeeping is also referred to as records management (RM) or records and information management (RIM).  

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Who is responsible?

Good recordkeeping is everyone's responsibility.

All government employees have a duty to create full and accurate records of their actions, and file or capture them in a formal recordkeeping system. Employees at all levels must not destroy government records except as provided by an approved records schedule, and in accordance with established procedures for records destruction. All government employees are encouraged to take the online course “Introduction to Records and Information Management in the Manitoba Government,” available through the Learning Management System (LMS), to learn more about their role and responsibilities. For more information on the course and a link to the LMS, see Training.

Program managers are responsible for ensuring that the specific records requirements of their program are defined and understood, that responsibility for creating and managing records is assigned, and that the necessary systems are in place to support recordkeeping. Managers should ensure that all records in their custody and control are covered by current records schedules, and that schedules are regularly implemented.

Employees with responsibility for records management functions, such as managing file systems or carrying out the provisions of records schedules, should follow established practices and procedures and ensure that records management actions are documented. It is recommended that every department have an identified senior manager responsible for RIM, dedicated records management professionals to analyze and lead RIM activities, and technical staff responsible for digital and physical records management. These roles and responsibilities are evolving as digital recordkeeping transforms how we work and how we create and receive records.

The Government Records Office is responsible under The Archives and Recordkeeping Act for establishing policies, standards, and guidelines for recordkeeping across government, including the creation, identification, maintenance, retention, disposition, custody, and protection of records. It identifies records of archival value through the records scheduling process, and is involved in planning for the long-term protection and use of these records. The Government Records Office also provides records storage services to government through the Government Records Centre.

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