Tuesday, 12 March 2013

File lists - key to accessing corporate memory

FOI dated 19th February 2013

“Please could you provide me with the following registry file lists used by :- 

  •  D Sef Pol 
  •  D Def H&S 
  •  DS&C”

Answer 12 March 2013

"However, we have to advise you that we will not be able to answer your request without  exceeding the appropriate limit. This is because to the only official record of registered files  is the MOD Form 262 of which there is one form for each file and part of a file opened.  There are many thousands of MOD Form 262s which make up the official file record for D Def H&S and D SEF Pol and to locate, retrieve, and extract information in scope of your request would involve some 7 man days of effort"

The answer implies that there are significant difficulties in locating files in order to inform policy and questions about issues, some only a few years old.  D Sef pol, D Def H&S and DS&C  were in turn all Directorates of MOD Head Office concerned with health, safety and the environment.  The difficulty in accessing  files means that it is very difficult to look back and learn from  previous accidents and polluting events.  So, such unfortunate incidents are likely to reoccur.

It also means that there will be problems finding and checking information used to inform the answers to Parliamentary questions, FOI requests, and  to defend claims against the MOD etc.  

File lists are also required in order to access archived files, in the absence of file lists historic information is inaccessible.  

The lack of file lists has led  to "corporate amnesia"

A previous post to this blog also points out in the clearest terms that MOD has failed to ensure the retention of key information for the period  1975 to 1985 about the way in which radioactive waste has been managed and disposed of. It may also mean that key information about policy and standards may have been lost 

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