Records Management Consultants
by C. Raymond LaFever
Archives Technical Information Series #44
Consultants can play a beneficial role in developing and improving an organizations archives or records management program. However, to ensure successful employment of a consultant, organizations must consider several issues. This publication provides advice and guidance for state agencies, local governments, and historical societies that are considering the employment of consultants, whether through grant funds or budgeted resources.
Consultants can be valuable human resources. As independent experts, they may have proficiency in specific areas (e.g., electronic records, micrographics, inventory, business process analysis, archival appraisal, archival conservation/preservation). They may provide information on the purchase of specialized equipment, determine problems and recommend solutions, or carry out projects that organizations cannot carry out by themselves. Consultants can also help promote the value of archives or records management to an organizations decision makers, or assist staff in gaining the expertise they need. Used for one-time, short-term tasks, consultants can provide staffing flexibility and just-in-time expertise.
However, an organization can become overly dependent on consultants for routine or continuing activities that should be carried out by its own staff. Such dependence does not benefit the organization and can become expensive. Local governments and other organizations that are eligible for New State Archives grants should be particularly cautious in engaging a consultant. For example, when a consultant repeatedly prepares grant applications and carries out one project after another, the organization will not develop its own internal expertise or its capacity to handle its management needs on a continuing basis. Thus, when an organization continually submits grant applications to the Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund (LGRMIF) or the Documentary Heritage Program (DHP) that are prepared by consultants, funding may be denied unless the organizations need for consultants is compelling or the justification for them extremely convincing.