Best in Class Finance Functions For Police Forces

Background

Police funding has risen by £4.8 billion and 77 per cent (39 per cent in real terms) since 1997. However the days where forces have enjoyed such levels of funding are over.

Chief Constables and senior management recognize that the annual cycle of looking for efficiencies year-on-year is not sustainable, and will not address the cash shortfall in years to come.
Facing slower funding growth and real cash deficits in their budgets, the Police Service must adopt innovative strategies which generate the productivity and efficiency gains needed to deliver high quality policing to the public.

The step-change in performance required to meet this challenge will only be achieved if the police service fully embraces effective resource management and makes efficient and productive use of its technology, partnerships and people.

The finance function has an essential role to play in addressing these challenges and supporting Forces’ objectives economically and efficiently.

Challenge

Police Forces tend to nurture a divisional and departmental culture rather than a corporate one, with individual procurement activities that do not exploit economies of scale. This is in part the result of over a decade of devolving functions from the center to the.divisions.

In order to reduce costs, improve efficiency and mitigate against the threat of “top down” mandatory, centrally-driven initiatives, Police Forces need to set up a corporate back office and induce behavioral change. This change must involve compliance with a corporate culture rather than a series of silos running through the organization.

Developing a Best in Class Finance Function

Traditionally finance functions within Police Forces have focused on transactional processing with only limited support for management information and business decision support. With a renewed focus on efficiencies, there is now a pressing need for finance departments to transform in order to add greater value to the force but with minimal costs.

1) Aligning to Force Strategy

As Police Forces need finance to function, it is imperative that finance and operations are closely aligned. This collaboration can be very powerful and help deliver significant improvements to a Force, but in order to achieve this model, there are many barriers to overcome. Finance Directors must look at whether their Force is ready for this collaboration, but more importantly, they must consider whether the Force itself can survive without it.

Finance requires a clear vision that centers around its role as a balanced business partner. However to achieve this vision a huge effort is required from the bottom up to understand the significant complexity in underlying systems and processes and to devise a way forward that can work for that particular organization.

The success of any change management program is dependent on its execution. Change is difficult and costly to execute correctly, and often, Police Forces lack the relevant experience to achieve such change. Although finance directors are required to hold appropriate professional qualifications (as opposed to being former police officers as was the case a few years ago) many have progressed within the Public Sector with limited opportunities for learning from and interaction with best in class methodologies. In addition cultural issues around self-preservation can present barriers to change.

Whilst it is relatively easy to get the message of finance transformation across, securing commitment to embark on bold change can be tough. Business cases often lack the quality required to drive through change and even where they are of exceptional quality senior police officers often lack the commercial awareness to trust them.

2) Supporting Force Decisions

Many Finance Directors are keen to develop their finance functions. The challenge they face is convincing the rest of the Force that the finance function can add value – by devoting more time and effort to financial analysis and providing senior management with the tools to understand the financial implications of major strategic decisions.

Maintaining Financial Controls and Managing Risk

Sarbanes Oxley, International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), Basel II and Individual Capital Assessments (ICA) have all put financial controls and reporting under the spotlight in the private sector. This in turn is increasing the spotlight on financial controls in the public sector.

A ‘Best in Class’ Police Force finance function will not just have the minimum controls to meet the regulatory requirements but will evaluate how the legislation and regulations that the finance function are required to comply with, can be leveraged to provide value to the organization. Providing strategic information that will enable the force to meet its objectives is a key task for a leading finance function.

3) Value to the Force

The drive for development over the last decade or so, has moved decision making to the Divisions and has led to an increase in costs in the finance function. Through utilizing a number of initiatives in a program of transformation, a Force can leverage up to 40% of savings on the cost of finance together with improving the responsiveness of finance teams and the quality of financial information. These initiatives include:

Centralization

By centralizing the finance function, a Police Force can create centers of excellence where industry best practice can be developed and shared. This will not only re-empower the department, creating greater independence and objectivity in assessing projects and performance, but also lead to more consistent management information and a higher degree of control. A Police Force can also develop a business partner group to act as strategic liaisons to departments and divisions. The business partners would, for example, advise on how the departmental and divisional commanders can meet the budget in future months instead of merely advising that the budget has been missed for the previous month.

With the mundane number crunching being performed in a shared service center, finance professionals will find they now have time to act as business partners to divisions and departments and focus on the strategic issues.

The cultural impact on the departments and divisional commanders should not be underestimated. Commanders will be concerned that:

o Their budgets will be centralized
o Workloads would increase
o There will be limited access to finance individuals
o There will not be on site support

However, if the centralized shared service center is designed appropriately none of the above should apply. In fact from centralization under a best practice model, leaders should accrue the following benefits:

o Strategic advice provided by business partners
o Increased flexibility
o Improved management information
o Faster transactions
o Reduced number of unresolved queries
o Greater clarity on service and cost of provision
o Forum for finance to be strategically aligned to the needs of the Force

A Force that moves from a de-centralized to a centralized system should try and ensure that the finance function does not lose touch with the Chief Constable and Divisional Commanders. Forces need to have a robust business case for finance transformation combined with a governance structure that spans operational, tactical and strategic requirements. There is a risk that potential benefits of implementing such a change may not be realized if the program is not carefully managed. Investment is needed to create a successful centralized finance function. Typically the future potential benefits of greater visibility and control, consistent processes, standardized management information, economies of scale, long-term cost savings and an empowered group of proud finance professionals, should outweigh those initial costs.

To reduce the commercial, operational and capability risks, the finance functions can be completely outsourced or partially outsourced to third parties. This will provide guaranteed cost benefits and may provide the opportunity to leverage relationships with vendors that provide best practice processes.

Process Efficiencies

Typically for Police Forces the focus on development has developed a silo based culture with disparate processes. As a result significant opportunities exist for standardization and simplification of processes which provide scalability, reduce manual effort and deliver business benefit. From simply rationalizing processes, a force can typically accrue a 40% reduction in the number of processes. An example of this is the use of electronic bank statements instead of using the manual bank statement for bank reconciliation and accounts receivable processes. This would save considerable effort that is involved in analyzing the data, moving the data onto different spreadsheet and inputting the data into the financial systems.

Organizations that possess a silo operating model tend to have significant inefficiencies and duplication in their processes, for example in HR and Payroll. This is largely due to the teams involved meeting their own goals but not aligning to the corporate objectives of an organization. Police Forces have a number of independent teams that are reliant on one another for data with finance in departments, divisions and headquarters sending and receiving information from each other as well as from the rest of the Force. The silo model leads to ineffective data being received by the teams that then have to carry out additional work to obtain the information required.

Whilst the argument for development has been well made in the context of moving decision making closer to operational service delivery, the added cost in terms of resources, duplication and misaligned processes has rarely featured in the debate. In the current financial climate these costs need to be recognized.

Culture

Within transactional processes, a leading finance function will set up targets for staff members on a daily basis. This target setting is an element of the metric based culture that leading finance functions develop. If the appropriate metrics of productivity and quality are applied and when these targets are challenging but not impossible, this is proven to result in improvements to productivity and quality.

A ‘Best in Class’ finance function in Police Forces will have a service focused culture, with the primary objectives of providing a high level of satisfaction for its customers (departments, divisions, employees & suppliers). A ‘Best in Class’ finance function will measure customer satisfaction on a timely basis through a metric based approach. This will be combined with a team wide focus on process improvement, with process owners, that will not necessarily be the team leads, owning force-wide improvement to each of the finance processes.

Organizational Improvements

Organizational structures within Police Forces are typically made up of supervisors leading teams of one to four team members. Through centralizing and consolidating the finance function, an opportunity exists to increase the span of control to best practice levels of 6 to 8 team members to one team lead / supervisor. By adjusting the organizational structure and increasing the span of control, Police Forces can accrue significant cashable benefit from a reduction in the number of team leads and team leads can accrue better management experience from managing larger teams.

Technology Enabled Improvements

There are a significant number of technology improvements that a Police Force could implement to help develop a ‘Best in Class’ finance function.

These include:

A) Scanning and workflow

Through adopting a scanning and workflow solution to replace manual processes, improved visibility, transparency and efficiencies can be reaped.

B) Call logging, tracking and workflow tool

Police Forces generally have a number of individuals responding to internal and supplier queries. These queries are neither logged nor tracked. The consequence of this is dual:

o Queries consume considerable effort within a particular finance team. There is a high risk of duplicated effort from the lack of logging of queries. For example, a query could be responded to for 30 minutes by person A in the finance team. Due to this query not being logged, if the individual that raised the query called up again and spoke to a different person then just for one additional question, this could take up to 20 minutes to ensure that the background was appropriately explained.

o Queries can have numerous interfaces with the business. An unresolved query can be responded against by up to four separate teams with considerable delay in providing a clear answer for the supplier.

The implementation of a call logging, tracking and workflow tool to document, measure and close internal and supplier queries combined with the set up of a central queries team, would significantly reduce the effort involved in responding to queries within the finance departments and divisions, as well as within the actual divisions and departments, and procurement.

C) Database solution

Throughout finance departments there are a significant number of spreadsheets utilized prior to input into the financial system. There is a tendency to transfer information manually from one spreadsheet to another to meet the needs of different teams.

Replacing the spreadsheets with a database solution would rationalize the number of inputs and lead to effort savings for the front line Police Officers as well as Police Staff.

D) Customize reports

In obtaining management information from the financial systems, police staff run a series of reports, import these into excel, use lookups to match the data and implement pivots to illustrate the data as required. There is significant manual effort that is involved in carrying out this work. Through customizing reports the outputs from the financial system can be set up to provide the data in the formats required through the click of a button. This would have the benefit of reduced effort and improved motivation for team members that previously carried out these mundane tasks.

In designing, procuring and implementing new technology enabling tools, a Police Force will face a number of challenges including investment approval; IT capacity; capability; and procurement.

These challenges can be mitigated through partnering with a third party service company with whom the investment can be shared, the skills can be provided and the procurement cycle can be minimized.

Conclusion

It is clear that cultural, process and technology change is required if police forces are to deliver both sustainable efficiencies and high quality services. In an environment where for the first time forces face real cash deficits and face having to reduce police officer and support staff numbers whilst maintaining current performance levels the current finance delivery models requires new thinking.

While there a number of barriers to be overcome in achieving a best in class finance function, it won’t be long before such a decision becomes mandatory. Those who are ahead of the curve will inevitably find themselves in a stronger position.

Records Management in Government Agencies in Sierra Leone

IntroductionRecords Management is the systematic control of all records from their creation or receipt, through their processing, distribution, organization, storage and retrieval to their ultimate disposition. Because information is such an important resource to organization, the records management function also includes information management. Therefore, records management is also known as Records and Information Management or RIM (Magnus, 2006).Records management may also be used to define as the way official records (correspondence files, information) are organized in such a way that they have a meaning, and can be used continuously by the users such as managers, records professionals, educational institutions,Importance of Records Management in Government AgenciesEstablishing a records management programme, in government agencies for example, the Meteorological Department may result in both immediate and long-term importance to the department. Below are stated some of the importance of records management in the government agencies, civil service, companies and businesses as a whole:• Records management reduces lost or misplaced records. Because the human element is always with us, even the best system in the world will occasionally have misplaced records. But properly designed document management systems can gradually reduce misfiles. Most often misfiled records can cost the clerical staff a huge wastage of time in searching for records;• Records management act as evidence in the time of dispute. It is important for the settlement of dispute because it can be shown as proof in court;• It helps in evaluating progress of organization. It helps in the preservation of history of the organization. The past records shows direction to organization. It helps in finding out the weaknesses and strength of organization. Records management gives the account of progress and direction in which organization is giving on;• Records management is the memory of business. It is useful for future decision making process. The study of past records shows direction for future. It supplies information to organization whenever it is needed therefore, it helps in taking decision;• Records management helps to evaluate business progress and performance. It helps in comparison between one period of time and another or between sometime of businesses;• Records management helps in management and control of important records. It helps to protect necessary records with care and disposes useless records;
• To minimize litigation risks. Organization implement records management programmes in order to reduce the risks associated with litigation and potential penalties. This can be equally true in government agencies. A consistency applied records management programme can reduce the liabilities associated with document disposal by providing for their systematic, routine disposal in a normal course of business;• It increases accountability. A records management will put in place a system for tracking actions on each record, therefore increasing accountability and providing access reports; and• To improve working environment. Implementing records management programme improves the working environment through the organization of records and storage offsite. Organized working environment can then improve the perception of the business by clients and potential employees. New employees are also easily trained to manage the company’s records when an efficient records management programme is in place (Jackson, 2008).The Historical Background of the Meteorological Department Sierra LeoneSierra Leone was the headquarter (HQ) of the West African Meteorological services which was established in 1923.Meterological services were provided for four West African countries namely Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria and The Gambia respectively. The Sierra Leone Meteorological department is an offshoot of the British West African Meteorological services founded on the 27th April 1961. Since the establishment, the department has been governed by series of directors and the presently director is Alpha Bockari who has served in this capacity from 2012-to date. The headquarter is located at F18 Charlotte street Freetown.The Meteorological Department exist to provide cost effective weather and climate services by collecting, processing, archiving and disseminating meteorological and climatological information and services to support end user contributing to the management of Sierra Leone’s economy with special regard to protection of lives and property and safeguarding of the environment and recovering the costs of the services so rendered so that it expenditure will not exceed it income.As a department under the ministry of Transport and Aviation, they are charged with the following mandates /responsibilities:• Safety and well being of citizen and their protection against severe weather situation and devastation from natural disasters;• Provision of reliable climate data to facilitates project design for agricultural planning and implement, water supply systems, infrastructure, and tourism;• Contributing to the socio- economic (including providing end user services for agricultural activities, marine) development of the country;• Carryout weather and climate related activities e.g. Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Climate Change Services (CCS), Reduction of Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), and National Communication (NCS) (Meteorological Department, 2014).Objectives of the Meteorological Department Sierra LeoneThe overarching objective of the Meteorological Department established as the sole authority, which issues weather and climatological warnings and services are, to:• Forecast, plan and deliver meteorological and climatological services which meet national socio- economic development needs.• Collect, process, store and disseminate meteorological and climatological information both nationally and internationally in accordance with rules and practices and procedures established under the WMO Convention of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), etc and other relevant conventions of the United Nations systems such as the Frame work Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), and Convention to Combat Desertification, Drought etc.• Provide a range of customer/ sector specific operational meteorological services to such major sub sector as those for aviation, water resources, agriculture, defense, marine, tourism, sports and recreation, and construction;• Provides advice on meteorological and climatological matters to the national community and other governmental and non- governmental agencies.• Develop adequate manpower to enhance functional effectiveness and efficiency of agencies.• Reduce its reliance on the national budget and generate its own revenue by charging for services rendered to other clients;• Arrange for and manage surface and upper air observation networks and accurately and effectively record the weather and climate condition for Sierra Leone’s economic development;• Provides meteorological services for search and rescue operations during disaster and relief operations as well as during national emergencies; and• Participate on behalf of Sierra Leone in the activities of relevance international organizations to which its belongs, in particular the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), World Weather Watch (WWW), Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW), Inter- Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Developments (ACMAD), United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) etc role in all climate change activities of the country (Meteorological Department, 2014).Methods of Managing Records at the Meteorological DepartmentRecords keeping are of great importance to any institution. One of the most crucial decision managers, directors or heads of organization have to make is to choose the suitable methods of managing their organization’s records. There of two methods that is significantly used. These include centralized and decentralized methods of managing records.Centralized MethodsA Centralized method of managing records is the one in which all physical documents are located in one central location or office. The location is controlled by the records management office staff. The number of employees in the records department will depend on the size of the organization. In a centralized method, end users have the comfort of knowing all physical documents relating to a particular case are held in the same location. If for instance, end user needs to reference a file he/she would be required to contact the records office staff. The file would then be checked out to the end user. A complete claim of custody of file is captured, so the location of file is known at all times.A centralized method has a heightened level of security. For example, the entrance is locked so only the records staff has access to the files in the records office. This process yields much more control over physical document than the decentralized methods. For efficiency of purpose, uniform office procedures are documented and circulated to all end user. These procedures address topics such as hours or operation, file request and delivery times.Decentralized MethodA Decentralized method is one in which the physical documents are located across the entire office. This may mean they can be found in every staff offices or other work room space. Unlike centralized methods, where the files are controlled exclusively by the records office. A decentralized method is controlled by the staff that created the file. The physical files are stored at the employee’s desk not in a centralized location for all to access. Thus, the method would not require a full time record staff.Employees would have access to their files at all times and would be responsible for maintaining accuracy. The decentralized method of managing records has its demerits. For instance, suppose group of employees are working on the same case at the same time suddenly, the employee who is responsible for maintaining the file is absent. The rest of the group may have trouble in locating the file if the organization does not have claim of custody procedure in place. Along the same lines, a decentralized method of managing records will have little or no security over files. This can prove problematic especially if an organization handles high sensitive cases.However, in the meteorological department, a centralized method of managing the department’s records is adopted. That is to say, both physical and electronic or other records are centrally managed by the department’s office clerk. Although, there are challenges with regards to the keeping and managing of records, nevertheless the method is well utilized. (Meteorological Department, 2014).Types of Records generated by Meteorological DepartmentThe records generated by the meteorological department office plays a vital role in managing the operations of the department. The department documents past activities, phenomenon and events that serves the basis for further actions. The records are both manual and electronic in nature. Examples of manual records include:• Office administrative records;
• Human resource records;
• Financial/ fiscal records;
• Meteorological data/ records;
• Material records;
• Public information records;
• Conference/seminar service records; and
• General programs.Electronic Records: These electronic or machine readable records are data in a form that can be read and processed by a computer and that satisfies the legal definition of a record. At the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone these are records relating to divisions and out stations in the department and these include:
• Electronic mail and messages;
• Electronic spreadsheet;
• Primary data files and data bases;
• Machines readable indexes; and
• Word processing files.Users of the Records at the Meteorological Department in Sierra LeoneThe users of the Meteorological Department records in Sierra Leone include:
• Administrative personnel;
• Research/ external users;
• Human Resource Management Office (HRMO);
• Government ministries and agencies;
• International organizations e.g. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Meteorological Organization (WMO); and
• Clients to which Meteorological Department information is given. For example, the media in Sierra Leone such as: Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), African Young Voices (AYV), and Star Television).Filing System at the Meteorological Department in Sierra LeoneFiling System in Records Management is the process of classifying, arranging, sorting and storing records so they may be easily located and retrieved when needed. It is the classification and control of basic file groups, material collection procedures, file preparation, sorting, indexing, maintenance and cross referencing. A well defined and maintained filing system allows vital information to be accessed quickly and saves company money by saving time. Business, schools, government agencies and even every day, people use filing systems to keep their affairs organized. Thus, the following various types of filing systems may enable agency to carry out proper filing system efficiently.Alphabetical Filing SystemIn the alphabetical filing system, records are arranged according to name that is from A-Z either the name of a person, company or subject in accordance with the letters of the alphabet. There are two methods involve in alphabetical filing system.The topical alphabetic filing system, also known as a dictionary system. In this system files, individual record are in alphabetical order. This filing system works well when storing a small number of records. It proves to be problematic when individual has a lot of client sharing the same name.The other method is the geographical filing system; also know as encyclopedia or classification system. This system is used to organize larger volume of records. It groups subject together under broad categories based on a location such as a city, country or state. The categories and the files within each category are arranged alphabetically.Numerical Filing SystemIn the numeric filing system, numbers are assigned to each file and arranged the numbers in segmented order. Files of people with the same name won’t have duplicate headings as with the alphabetical system. This system also offers better filing confidentiality since names are displayed in the files and work well when handing a large volume of files.Terminal Filing SystemIn the terminal digit filing system also, numbers of assigned files are in sequential order but filed according to the last two digits. For example. If an individual is filing number 18547; first the individual go to 47 section of the filing system then look for the 85 area of the section and finally look for the number one (1).Alphanumeric Filing SystemThe alphanumeric filing system, both letters and numbers are used to organized files. For example, two letters are used to signify the client files in, followed by a number to denote his account number.The meteorological department filing system, have adopted the alphanumeric filing system. In that record, they use the end-tab folder and pockets that simply stand on shelves and filing cabinets. No hanging pocks with a use of office space. The meteorological department has some challenges but the filing system is organized and use efficiently.Records Storage SystemsRecord should be kept in good order, in a secure location. Those containing confidential or personal data such as staff files must be stored in lockable units and should not be left on desks overnight or view of visitors. Only records which are required frequently should be stored in the office. Those which need to be retained for legal or other reasons should be stored offsite with the records office offsite, while those which have outlived their usefulness should be destroyed. However, records which are less than one year will not be stored offsite.Storage systems used in records office most provide appropriate protection for records based on format and volume of records, how frequently they are used, how quickly they need to be accessed and security requirement. The main types of records storage systems used include:Vertical Filing CabinetsThese are adequate for small filing systems, but are less suitable for large runs of records and records that require frequent access. Access is slow, since drawers have to be opened, and these can significant impact where there is a high volume of records activity. The cabinets require large amount of space and drawer space is often not use to full capacity.Book ShelvesThese are suitable for books or files that are stored upright, such as box files and lever arch files.Lateral Filing UnitsThese have long drawer for storing files laterally and use space more efficiently than their vertical counterparts. Alternatively, static unit without drawer can be use, where files are stored in hanging pocket or cradles. Where prompt filing and retrieval are required open unit will be the most efficient. If file access is to be restricted, units with lockable doors or shutters can be used.Mobile ShelvingThis may be suitable where a large volume of records need to be stored near at hand, as it reduces the number of access aisles require. It is the most expensive type of shelving, and is very heavy. The floor must have sufficient structural capacity to support these shelves.Open Shelving SystemThis usually found in large offices and in central file rooms, it allows for rapid retrieval and refilling. This type of lateral file, which resemble open book shelves allows files to be retrieved horizontally. It also offers full viewing of the folder tabs, which makes for rapid retrieval. And there is an estimated 50 percent saving space when files are moved from vertical system to an open shelve system. This unit usually requires professional installation, which can be negotiated with the vendor is an inclusion in the cost of the equipment. These are the most efficient kinds of files available. They also have doors and can be locked. Some of those with doors have flush backs and can be used as attractive room dividers with a built-in advantage of providing a good deal of sound- proofing. These doors and 6 openings are easily accessed over 200 inches of filing. Those without doors provide even more filing capacity and should be consider, even if there is a perceived need to lock them.Records Storage Systems at the Meteorological Department in Sierra LeoneThe main types of records storage systems used at the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone is the open Shelve System which is mentioned above where files contacting records are usually found in large offices and in central file rooms which allows for the rapid retrieval and refilling. This type of lateral file, which resemble open book shelves allows files to be retrieved horizontally.Records Retrieval at the Meteorological Department in Sierra LeoneRetrieval is the process of locating and removing a record or file from storage. It is also the action of recovering information on a given subject from stored data. It deals with standards and procedures in retrieving paper, electronic and image records. For example, finding a name and telephone number in a telephone directory or data base is a common storage and retrieval activity. Records or information can be retrieve in three ways:Manually: people go to a storage container and remove by hand a record wanted or make a note of information requested from it.Mechanically: a person uses some mechanical means, such as pressing the correct buttons to rotate movable shelves to correct location of a record, remove the record manually, or record information requested from it.Electronically: a person uses some means, such as a computer, to locate a record. The physical record may not need to be removed from storage. The requester is informed as to where it can be found, or the information requested is showed to the requester in some way, perhaps on a screen in a data base or electronic mail file.Request for stored records may be made orally over the telephone or by a messenger or in writing memo, letter etc. The request may be delivered in person, sent by mechanical, such as a conveyor system, or sent electronically by email. The record must be retrieved from storage and given to the requester quickly. Every minute of delay in finding a record is costly in user or requester wasting time and in filers searching time and could possibly lead to loss of money for the business (Stephens, 2009).However, manual and mechanical procedures are normally utilized in retrieving records at the Meteorological Department since majority of their records are in paper based form.Challenges facing Records Management at the Meteorological Department in Sierra LeoneThe Sierra Leone situation in business of record keeping and management especially in the Meteorological Department system has not been too successful because of the lack of management component. Writing in support of the above finding, I have noted that many years of neglect had done great damage to meteorological sector and record keeping is not an exemption. The following are some of the challenges of proper records management faced by the Meteorological department in Sierra Leone:Inadequate FundingThe problem of inadequate funding of records office in the meteorological department is more intensive than the other departments. This is a problem that was not only experienced during the colonial era but has passed on even to today’s records management programs. Payment of employee’s salaries, purchase of modern preservation equipment and chemicals among the other day- today activities that facilitates records preservation are vital activities that call for proper adequate funding to enable the institution to achieve its objectives are not quite seen. For this reason, the meteorological records office practice is abandoned with unqualified personnel thus suffering from inefficiency and ineffectiveness.Inadequacy of Space and EquipmentThe records office at the Meteorological Department is rather too small to contain current and non- current records. The equipment used is somehow crude in nature and also of inadequate capacity. The record staff do not have access to modern equipment due to combine problem of inadequate funding and know- how technology.Problematic Nature of FormatMost record materials are still organic nature, most of them been paper based. This means they are capable of aging, advancing, deteriorating with time. For this reason, they need equipment to be treated and handled with for the purpose of preserving them. For such a country like Sierra Leone which lies within the tropics such conditions are worsen by high level of humidity in the atmosphere and high temperature all around the year. All these conditions combine work to hasten the nature chemical process of decaying records. Furthermore, records keeping facilities in the Meteorological Department do not have weather control preservative where all weather conditions can be controlled to enhance record preservation thus, making the whole preservation process even more difficult.Absence of Records Management LawsThe National Records act of 1964 is outdated and is no longer serving its usefulness. Records do not have legal description, backing or definition of their service. Legal laws provide for authenticity, which serves to promote and also provides confidence to the public and those practicing in the profession about the service being offered. These are the very important elements that the Meteorological Department’s record keeping facility lacks.Lack of Understanding and AppreciationThe records management program in the Meteorological Department is rarely appreciated and its role in the provision and management of information understood by only a handful of staff. This is also true as it is the culture in many other public and private sectors that generate vital records on a daily basis have no basic understanding of records life cycle and requirement of the records disposal act. They are extremely ignorant of the vital role that can be played by the records office to help them properly managed and preserve record both at the current and semi- current stages. Staff is totally uninformed about the records activities and for this reason it is recommended that the records office should engage in programs that will help to educate staff and other users in the requirement and content of the activities.Conclusively,Record keeping in an organization set up is very important and cannot be over emphasized. This is because continuity depends on availability of useful records of the past activities. In a complex organization like that of the Meteorological Department, it is not possible to keep every single information in the brain, because the volume of information is heavy, therefore records must be kept. In Sierra Leone, meteorological laws demand that every meteorological station should keep certain meteorological records such as weather fore cast data, personnel records, visitor’s book, inventory book, account book. Record keeping occupies a strategic position in the efficient and effective management of meteorological system. In fact, it is central in the administration of institution of learning because it document the planning and implementation of appropriate course of service allowing monitoring of work.Unfortunately, the Sierra Leone situation in business of record keeping and management especially in the Meteorological Department system has not been too successful because of the lack of management component. Giving credence to this assertion, records management practice in the Meteorological Department has a number of problems as indicated above. By paying close attention to all these problems and addressing them one at a time we help solve the problems and enhance good management of records in the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone.

Pregnancy Nutrition Facts – Calcium and Folate Are Essential for Proper Pregnancy Nutrition

Experts agree that perfect pregnancy nutrition is best achieved when the mother consumes whole foods containing nutrients such as calcium and folic acid from fruits and vegetables. It is not that easy for expectant mothers to get enough folic acid or calcium from whole food sources every day, so a health food vitamin or calcium supplement may be needed. When choosing the proper supplement it is important to understand the difference between natural health food vitamins for pregnancy nutrition and isolated multi-vitamins.When searching for the best pregnancy nutrition, be aware that it is better to consume vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are attached to whole foods, not isolated. Whole food nutrients are much easier for the body to absorb, whereas isolated vitamins and minerals are often flushed out before the body can break them down to use for fuel. There are some excellent all natural, low carb, high fiber foods that provide perfect pregnancy nutrition, but you will need to search the Internet. Many of the best concentrated formulas are not sold in typical grocery stores or even health food stores.First, it is important to know some of the most valuable elements of perfect pregnancy nutrition.Here are the essential minerals that a pregnant woman needs on a daily basis:* calcium* protein* phosphorus* potassium* folic acid (folate) Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that is found in supplements* Vitamins A, D, C, E and the entire B complex.It is a nutrition fact that calcium is an important mineral for everyone, especially children, adolescents, nursing mothers and expectant mothers who need perfect pregnancy nutrition. It is not easy for all pregnant mothers to consume enough calcium every day without a health food vitamin or calcium supplement of some kind. It is especially challenging to get enough calcium from whole foods, like fruits and vegetables.Some of the more familiar sources of calcium in whole foods are:* Broccoli* Yogurt* Cheese* Milk* BeansDandelion is a natural source of calcium from whole food and alfalfa has a high level of calcium with natural enzymes and chlorophyll, but these are a little harder to include in a daily diet for proper pregnancy nutrition. However, you can find a concentrated whole food calcium supplement that includes dandelion and alfalfa along with other whole food calcium sources.If you are inclined to take a calcium supplement, not only is it important for proper pregnancy nutrition that the calcium originates from whole food sources, it is equally important that Vitamin D2 is present. Vitamin D2 is crucial to aid the body in absorbing calcium. Vitamin D2 is a necessary component to work with the calcium for improved bone strength and density. In one particular natural whole food calcium supplement, 3 types of calcium are included with different absorption characteristics, and Vitamin D2 is present to enhance the absorption of calcium.Folate, also called Folic Acid and Vitamin B9 is another essential nutrient for perfect pregnancy nutrition. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps the body create healthy new cells. That is why folate is very important for pregnancy nutrition as hopeful mothers create new life. Moms who include sufficient folic acid in their diets are taking positive steps toward preventing birth defects, especially of the baby’s brain or spine.Everyone has heard the stories about pregnant women who can’t control their mood swings. Plenty of medical research points to a deficiency of folic acid for fostering depression and other psychiatric disorders. In the book, “Food, Your Miracle Medicine” (Copyright 1993), Jean Carper states, “That folic acid can act as an antidepressant is no secret among scientists”. The book goes on to point out McGill University’s Dr. Young found, “accumulating evidence that folic acid deficiency can contribute to depressed mood”, and that eliminating the deficiency often cures the depression.For proper pregnancy nutrition, a woman needs about 800 mcg of folic acid daily. Nursing mothers can back that down to about 500 mcg. This level may not be easy for some to reach, as it requires up to six servings of foods such as spinach, beans or asparagus, every day. If a pregnant woman is not getting enough folate from whole foods, then a natural health food vitamin should be investigated.Foods with folic acid in them include:* Leafy, green vegetables* Fruits* Beans* Peas* NutsSome enriched breads, cereals and other grain products also contain folic acid. Again, it is important to be sure that the folate is attached to a natural whole food complex of B vitamins. You can find very effective whole foods, health drink concentrates and other pregnancy nutrition on the Internet that you will not find in retail stores. Just be sure to search for a natural health food vitamin for pregnancy nutrition. When you search, you will find folic acid along with other essential vitamins and minerals for perfect pregnancy nutrition.