ELECTRONIC RECORDS & DOCUMENTS MANAGEMENT
67. Electronic Records and Documents Management (e RDM) enables information to be retrieved instantaneously and facilitates effective sharing and exchange of data. It can improve accountability and transparency in decision making and assist public sector organisations in meeting the requirements of Freedom of Information legislation. Electronic storage of records can create savings through reduced demands for physical storage space. It can also reduce the risk of files being damaged, lost or misfiled, and supports increased administrative efficiency. Many planning authorities are introducing e RDM systems to replace the microfiche methods previously used to archive planning casework.
68. There is a wide range of e RDM suppliers. Most of the systems are web enabled and have the potential to interface with existing development control casework systems. Some suppliers have e RDM systems that are already compatible with a range of development control systems.
69. Emails or electronic files can be saved directly to an e RDM system. Paper-based information must, however, be scanned before it can be added to the system. This is the most labour intensive and expensive part of e RDM, particularly given the size of some planning applications, with environmental statements and A0 plans. Increased electronic communication and online submission of applications should reduce the amount of scanning required.
70. Some planning authorities have decided to outsource all scanning - usually with a standard charge levied per application. Others have opted to have the initial application scanned commercially and then scan all subsequent correspondence and amendments inhouse, with associated hardware and staffing costs. Other planning authorities have decided to do all the scanning inhouse or through corporate e RDM programmes.
71. The National Archives of Scotland supports the development of UK standards for e RDM. They can provide advice and guidance to public bodies who are developing e RDM systems, see www.pro.gov.uk/recordsmanagement.