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Alberta government offices halts all document shredding as whistleblower suggests 'improper' destruction

http://calgaryherald.com/news/politics/information-and-integrity-watchdogs-to-investigate-shredding?utm_content=buffer9f0ef&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=bufferMaintaining proper document management records is important to avoid situations like one of Alberta's Government offices have experienced, only after being informed by an anonymous whistle-blower.

 

 

Last month, this press conference was held in Atlanta regarding a Government's office document destruction. An anonymous phone call from the whistle-blowing hotline suggested that documents had been "improperly destroyed"

"Public interest watchdogs launched a joint investigation into allegations of improper destruction of records inside the environment department.... The investigation is focused on Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, but certainly (it) could be expanded to include other government departments as information becomes available” 

All document destruction and shredding has been halted while the investigation takes place. There are few details to the claim made by the whistle-blower, however, Premier-designate Rachel Notley and Public Interest Commissioner Peter Hourihan explained to the press conference that this is an important matter to investigate, as the claim relates directly to a Government office, and potentially, personal and confidential information.

 

Rachel Notley describes one of the challenges the investigation could uncover when asked by a press officer:

Press: How do you know what has or hasn’t been shredded, do you look for a gap in the records? If you don’t know what was in the filing cabinet before, how do you know what has been shredded or not?
Notley: That is certainly one of the challenges in an investigation like this, however any good records management program should include documenting the destruction of the records. Again, that means issuing certificates of destruction so we know exactly what was destroyed. 
 
It is paramount that a shredding firm supply you with a certificate of destruction, and that document management records are maintained to a high level of accuracy. Any break in communication due to human error can be corrected by re-visiting the document management records. 
 
Notely explains some ways she would track the path of responsibility:

"We’re also interested in what sort of instruction has been provided to government departments, how they should be destroying records, how has that been communicated, how is the destruction being shredded, what records are being shredded. We will certainly be interested in what processes  have been followed, Because again there are rules of how records should be destroyed, there are retention schedules, there are requirements to destroy personal information confidentially."


Whether this particular case of confused destruction turns out to be an employee consciously destroying documents that they shouldn't be, or accidental destruction of documents due to unclear policies, or turn out to be nothing at all, Notely and Hourihan reassure the press conference that whatever the outcome, it will be an investigation that will bring valuable insight into the current policies in place, and what can be improved upon.

Quotes and information taken from this article

 

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