Filing Systems

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After you have evaluated the inventory of the records your office keeps, spend some time evaluating your filing system as well. If improvements can be made to the way you file records, you will improve administrative efficiency in your office and reduce costs. “If every employee of an agency of local governments spends even 5 percent of the time searching for hard-to-find information, that time translates into very substantial sums of money, and quality of services is sure to suffer.”[1]  A good filing system will provide two major benefits to the people using it: precise retrieval and timely retrieval.[2]  Another way of thinking about these issues is to ask “Can I find what I want when I want it?”  If your filing system results in records retrieval that takes too long, that only gives you part of what you want, or gives you back much more than you needed, it is inefficient. Poor filing system performance is generally attributed to seven major factors.

  1. Inadequate management attention;
  2. Poor organization and structure of files;
  3. Poor labeling and indexing procedures;
  4. Uncontrolled growth of records;
  5. A high incidence of missing, misfiled, or lost records;[3]
  6. Inadequate and/or poorly trained files personnel; and
  7. Inadequate or no formal record-keeping procedures.[4]

            [1]  The Daily Management of Records and Information A Guide for Local Governments, issued by the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, p. 1.

            [2]  The Daily Management of Records and Information, p. 2.

            [3]  “Studies show that between 1 and 3 percent of an organization’s records are not available to the users due to one of these causes.” The Daily Management of Records and Information p. 3.

            [4]    The Daily Management of Records and Information, pp. 2 and 3.