Provenance

The provenance of the records is central to establishing their authenticity and enables the records to be traced to their original source. Provenance refers to “the office of origin’ of records, or that office, administrative entity, person, family, firm, from which records, personal papers, or manuscripts originate” (Winget, 2004, p. 1). It is crucial to understanding the history of creation, ownership and changes made to records (Factor et al., 2009). Provenance is also referred to as “respect des fonds,” and the International Research on Permanent Authentic Records in Electronic Systems (InterPARES 2) defined provenance as “the relationships between records and the organizations or individuals that created, accumulated and/or maintained and used them in the conduct of personal or corporate activity” (Duranti & Preston, 2008, p. 831). The principle of provenance is crucial in the digital networked environment and has relevance to e-Government, because it points out which organizations are responsible for the management of the entire records continuum. Upward (2009) argued that it is essential for electronic records to be identified and managed in a manner that will make them accessible for as long as they are of value.

The National Electronic Commerce Coordinating Council (2004) quoted the following as the six fundamental challenges in maintaining confidence and trustworthiness in electronic records:

  • • Classification: Develop and adopt data classification standards to protect information from unauthorized or accidental disclosure, modification, or loss. Data classification categories may be as simple as “Open” or “Confidential,” or the classification categories may be more elaborate. Classification standards should be based on applicable laws, legal, and regulatory requirements, not individual desires.
  • • Authenticity: Provide assurances that every record truly originates from its attributed author.
  • • Integrity: Detect and track unintentional or malicious record alteration.
  • • Nonrepudiation: Prevent authors from refuting any record that they created.
  • • Security Persistence: Maintain a document’s security throughout its lifecycle, from first draft to archived record, per the classification assigned.
  • • Usability: Finally, the practices and policies to address the five preceding challenges should be easy to understand and easy to use so that everyone in an organization who creates and accesses electronic documents protects document confidentiality, authenticity, integrity, etc.

As governments engage in e-Government development they need to address any obstacles that might hinder the effective management of government records and demonstrate that they have e-readiness in place.

 
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