donderdag 26 augustus 2010

Hoe werken ambtenaren eigenlijk?

Begin juli publiceerde Planets het Report on government practices in communication and preservation. Voorwaar interessante leeswaar!
Bart Ballaux, voorheen werkzaam bij het Nationaal Archief, nu bij het Gemeentearchief Rotterdam, heeft bij tien Nederlandse en zeven Vlaamse ministeries onderzocht hoe ambtenaren omgaan met en denken over communicatie, verslag leggen en archivering. Voor archiefinspecteurs zijn de conclusies niet verrassend en ik denk dat iedereen de beschreven situaties wel herkent, maar dat maakt het rapport niet minder interessant om te lezen.
Een bloemlezing met de meest opvallende constateringen.

Over vergaderingen:
Participants indicated that non-verbal communication is extremely significant in specific instances, for instance policy makers are very conscious of accents or wording in their work. In many types of meetings, such as exploration or fine tuning of policies between various partners, body language, but also small words that are not present in written communication are often relevant and have to be taken into account in future collaboration. p.15
Over e-mail:
One recurring issue with e-mail, not mentioned with any other channel of communication, was the feeling that some people were using e-mail to hand over a problem to someone else. p.17
Over social media:
Some communication channels like blogs and twitter were hardly ever valued as a means of communication between colleagues. Issues with trust and confidentiality were the main reasons not to use them actively. The role of these social media however was recognised in communication to the public and some interviewees saw a multitude of applications. p.19
Over documentcreatie:
One of the issues, implicitly raised in the interview was when and why civil servants create documents. We have already discussed it a bit in the paragraphs about communication, but it is important to stress in this context also, civil servants have a high degree of personal freedom. Rules apply, only to the so-called numbered or registered documents. All other documents are created on the initiative of the civil servant. p.22
Over een ambtenaar die geen rapporten schrijft, maar filmpjes maakt:
The one person preferred visual reporting: he made short movies to report issues and problems to his superiors. His philosophy emerged from the current evolution in society in which images are more appealing than (long) texts, especially so for the younger generations. His aim was to synthesise and clarify an issue in a short movie. This unconventional solution presented serious challenges for this individual, as his administration didn’t supply the necessary tools for his visual approach. Nevertheless, he insisted that his method was valued by senior management. p.21
Over bestandsnamen:
Three main issues, well known in archival science, arise: naming, version control and arrangement of documents in a folder based structure. Naming and version control may be the most trivial, but Dutch civil servants in particular (although some Flemish civil servants voiced problems too) seemed to have issues sticking to the agreed rules regarding naming electronic documents. p.22
Over intranet:
One source of information that frustrated many participants was the Intranet of their ministry. Searching in this resource was nothing less than a complete disaster, according to many. When looking for a document that should be on the Intranet, but could possibly also be available on the public website of the ministry, everyone invariably preferred to use a Google search approach on the public site, as the Intranet search engine was of inferior quality and the arrangement of information and documents on the Intranet was for many more of a mystery than an easy to browse refuge for employees. p.28
Over back-ups en archivering:
However, some civil servants were actively preserving old (electronic) records, on a personal basis. They created back-ups on a personal drive, or would make copies of e-mails and documents on CD’s or DVD’s. They considered this as a personal archive, for reference in case anything they had done, had to be accounted for. p.25
En tenslotte over DIV en semi-statische archieven:
Transferring files to the archives department of the ministry –a practice that is hardly occurring if persons interviewed are typical of government administrations– is another point when responsibility for and care of the files is transferred. Such transfers to archival divisions of the ministry may be rare as some participants pointed out that once transferred and processed by this archival division, documents and files were difficult to retrieve, as they were reorganised, renamed and placed in a hierarchy that was not meaningful to those who had transferred them. p.26
Ik heb nog hoop dat mijn collega een vergelijkbaar onderzoek gaat doen onder gemeente-ambtenaren, want ik vraag me af of een ministerie en een gemeente veel van elkaar verschillen op dit punt.

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