Under the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011(PRSA) the Keeper of the Records of Scotland, NRS’ chief executive Tim Ellis, assesses and agrees records management plans submitted by public authorities. Over 150 plans have been agreed to date, the majority under improvement. The PRSA Assessment Team, in consultation with our stakeholders, have now developed a user-friendly tool to facilitate the capture, and review, of the continuous improvements in recordkeeping being made by authorities following agreement of their plans.

First mooted in 2015 and subsequently piloted by East Lothian Council in late 2016, the Progress Update Review (PUR) mechanism is currently being rolled out to Scotland’s public authorities. The issuing of a template reflecting the original assessment of an agreed plan enables authorities to demonstrate where changes have occurred and new policies have been instituted, help them identify where further resources and work is required, and highlight the general progress in recordkeeping they are effecting.

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Alex Fitzgerald of the pilot authority (East Lothian Council) discussing the development of the mechanism at the Stakeholder Forum in December 2016

Upon receipt of an authority’s PUR submission, the Assessment Team evaluate and comment on the progress being made, offering advice and guidance where possible and assigning an informal marking reflecting the current status of recordkeeping within an authority. This provides an incentive for authorities to voluntarily engage in this process when invited as it helps them demonstrate compliance with the Act’s spirit of regular self-assessment and continuous improvement, and enables them to receive constructive and impartial feedback on the policies being enacted.

It is hoped that such regular dialogue and exchange of information will be mutually advantageous. The online publishing of PUR Final Reports will encourage the sharing of ideas amongst stakeholders and further enrich the ever-growing support networks within the sector. It will permit the Keeper to monitor progress under the Act and ultimately contribute towards achieving a cultural change in record keeping attitudes and practices across Scotland.

Further information on the process and invitation schedule can be found on the PRSA pages of the National Records of Scotland website.

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