Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Hidden Hand of the Malvine Project

We read with interest an article by Graeme Burton entitled Standard Practice in Managing Information and Documents, a hard copy periodical published by www.infoconomy.com

The article is useful firstly in confirming reports that Sarah Tyacke, Chief Executive of The National Archives (TNA) and Keeper of the Public Records is standing down (in September according to a source in the Association of Chief Archivists in Local Government) and secondly in revealing that Dr. Tyacke, who is already chairman of the European Digital Lifecycle Management Forum (or DLM Forum), funded by the European Commission, will be driving the convergence of national and EU-wide Electronic Records Management Systems (ERMS) standards using the EU's MoReq system. MoReq stands for Model Requirements for the Management of Electronic Records.

Dr. Tyacke and colleagues, DLM Forum, Brussels, 1999

Quoting Cornwell Management Consultants PLC's web site, MoReq was produced by Cornwell Management Consultants plc at the request of the European Commission; it was designed to be easily used, and to be applicable throughout Europe.

This reminds us of the Malvine Project whose object is to facilitate the growing of a unified Europe (read more)

Thus we have evidence of the further use of archives, this time in their obscurer and as yet less culturally prominent form as electronc records, as a tool for EU integration, either under the direct influence of the Malvine Project or in harness with it.

Officially, MoReq comes under the aegis of Interoperable Delivery of European eGovernment Services to public Administrations, Businesses and Citizens (IDABC) , in turn part of the so-called eEurope and European Interoperability Framework for pan-European eGovernment Services projects, both formally under European Commission control.

Burton's article is mildly critical of the regime in which conversion to MoReq is taking place. It is sub-titled The National Archives' decision to back MoReq will be lamented by many. Suppliers of ERMS packages as it is have been delayed in responding to market demand for software stemming from e-government targets because of the TNA testing and compliance backlog and the EC is only taking MoReq forward slowly.

A final point of interest arising from the Burton article is a side-swipe at TNA made by an anonymous MoReq proponent who complains that the present national standard gradually being phased out or at leased fused with MoReq, TNA2002, is too theoretical, reflecting the academic background of the people behind it, people who could have done with more practical, pragmatic people who have actually put in complex multi-user systems (see also When is an Archivist not an Archivist? and American Controversy)

It is not clear which TNA staff are being criticised here, whether Mrs. Tyacke herself, perhaps Ian MacFarlane who is also quoted in the article or Dr. David Thomas, Director of Government and Archive Services at The National Archives, formerly Head of e-Access, Information and Communication Technology.

Dr. David Thomas

We shall see what the new TNA broom brings in September.


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