This article was written by AIIM Florida Chapter Board Member Alvaro Arias Cruz, District Director of Archives of Bogotá. It was originally published in the AIIM Florida Chapter Newsletter in April 2023. Learn more about the AIIM Florida Chapter at https://aiimfl.org/.
Colombia has one of the most robust and comprehensive archives laws in the Latin American region, identified as the General Archives Law (Law 594 of 2000). Through this state norm, Colombia and all its public institutions have made substantial progress in document management and archives administration, so much so that it has been recognized nationally and internationally as a reference for several countries to develop their own legal frameworks on their public archive policies.
After all these years, in Colombia, the document management and the administration of archives have taken momentum, which has allowed the consolidation of initiatives and very representative projects, both in institutions at the national level and also at the territorial level. In this sense, Colombia has interacted with several countries in the Latin American region as well as Ibeoramericanos. This interaction was seen in the III Ibero-American Seminar on City Archives held from March 21 to 24 of this year in the city of Barcelona, Spain. There was a great exchange of knowledge and experiences on the evolution of the file systems of cities such as Lisbon, Barcelona, Quito, Havana, Bogotá, Cali, and Medellin.
Undoubtedly, progress has been made on many issues, but there are also areas where we still have opportunities for improvement. Surely after these 20 years, there is already enough material to establish lessons learned in many aspects that have to do with the process of document management and archive administration. One of the aspects that contributes to the dynamic digital transformation of document management and archive administration is the use of technologies. Especially when today it is already recognized that the process of document management and administration must be incorporated as an information system that requires the use of software or applications to perform a much more efficient administration of their files considered as one of the assets of the institutions.
Today, there is a great advance and diversity of information technologies applied to the document management process, this dynamic will always change. Technologies such as institutional repositories, long-term digital preservation, electronic signatures, interoperability protocols, document big data, data analytics applied to document management, the use of AI in the optimization of metadata processing and management processes, searches, queries, document classification, text mining, vocabulary control are profoundly transforming, both the processes, services and products that are generated in the process of document management and file management.
The novelty for Colombia is that the current process of updating archival standards in Colombia becomes a great opportunity to review, improve, complement, adjust, refine and strengthen the regulatory framework that results in progress and above all in the simplification and clarity of the public policy guidelines issued by the General Archive of the Nation (AGN) as the highest authority on archival matters in Colombia. It is expected that aspects related to simplification of procedures, inclusion of guidelines that expand the spectrum of the use of information technologies, as well as guidelines to strengthen the archival culture in public entities, which are not only obliged to comply with the rules, but also an opportunity for private entities or companies that on their own initiative also take into account the follow-up of these guidelines will be among others the most beneficiaries of the new draft unified agreement on the rules on document management and archives in Colombia, which is expected to be published in the second half of this year.
This is an exercise that demonstrates that the law is not unchangeable and that, on the contrary, it can also be subject to improvement or flexibility when the circumstances and needs of society and institutions so warrant. This is an example of active and dynamic democracy that demonstrates how laws should exist for the function and benefit of society and its institutions.
About Alvaro Arias Cruz
Alvaro brings a wide experience as Account Manager and Project Manager in the ITC market for LATAM (Andean region, Caribbean, Latin America Territories) with special emphasis on Digital content, Document Management, Records Management, BPM, Big data, and Analytical solutions under the SaaS business model. He has worked for clients in the sectors of Education, Government, Pharmaceutical, Health, Oil & Gas, ITC, and Telecom, among others, where he has undertaken many high professional challenges.