Electronic records management at Uganda Revenue Authority
Kantu, Babra Elizabeth
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Many institutions inclusive of URA have embraced electronic records management for enhanced performance and efficient service delivery for their business operations. However, this changeover from conventional paper records to electronic record keeping and management is rarely well planned and systematic in line with electronic records management practices and how the rapid change in information systems to maintain the context, structure and content needs thorough investigation as far as electronic records management is concerned. This study examined electronic records management at Uganda Revenue Authority as a case. The study was anchored on the Records Continuum Model (RCM) that was developed in the 1990s by Frank Upward with input from Sue McKemmish and Livia Iacovino (Mckemmish, Upward and Reed, 2010). The study sought to address five objectives; to identify electronic information systems at Uganda Revenue Authority, to establish which electronic records are created and maintained by the electronic information systems used at Uganda Revenue Authority, to examine the electronic records management practices at Uganda Revenue Authority, to establish the challenges of managing electronic records at Uganda Revenue Authority and to propose strategies to overcome the challenges of electronic records management at Uganda Revenue Authority. The study adopted a case study research design following a qualitative approach. Interviews, focus group discussions, observation and document reviews were used for collection of data from twenty-three (23) participants from the seven departments dealing directly with electronic records management at the Authority. The study established that, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) uses three major types of electronic information systems (E-tax system, ASYCUDA World System and Enterprise resource planning system). The electronic records created were; Taxpayer identification certificates, application forms, payment receipts, invoices, transfer forms and tax-payer files. The electronic records management practices at URA were; creation, classification, storage, maintenance, retrieval and retention. Initial creation is usually carried out online (URA website) by the taxpayers, then URA i.e., the Domestic taxes staff and the records and registry personnel conduct thorough creation and attach metadata to ensure complete e-storage and filing and classification with zones of taxpayers in the DMS and retention is permanent through online archiving. The study exposed that URA faced technological challenges, unskilled stakeholders, systems obsolescence among other challenges. The study thus concludes by recommending that for strategic management of electronic records at URA, there is need for increased training and awareness, involvement of staff in the procurement process, use of URA records management policies and having established URA management local revenue offices in place to locate the physical addresses of clients and record them online for easy tracking. Additionally for other organisations to realise electronic records management at most efficiency, a number of changes such as change in skills sets, mind sets and professional cultures need to be effected including periodical upgrade and improvement of software and hardware to ensure that there is a reduction of information gaps, preservation of valuable records for posterity, easy records retrieval and accessibility in the digital age.