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Carla, as I mentioned in a previous posting, our county reorganizes
constantly. The best coding system we have found in this environment is to
give a code (in our case, a consecutive number) to the lowest organizational
units. This number then follows them throughout their existence. Higher
level organizational structures will tend to be volatile, but the lowest
organizational unit will tend to continue to exist (unless it is grant
funded, entirely cut from the budget, etc...).

We track organization by having our organizational code and four
organizational text fields: Department, Division, Section and Program. Note
that the text fields will frequently change, yet the number assigned to the
lowest organizational unit (which generally could be at either the Division,
Section, or Program level) will remain the same. That number facilitates the
updating of the text fields through global edits.

We track our records holdings via a combination of record series codes,
accession numbers, and organizational information. From a consistent data
management standpoint, the unchanging code assigned to the lowest level unit
has proven to be the most efficient and stable to manage organization
tracking. We tried a budget based approach once, but found that the budget
office changed the coding so frequently that it became a nightmare. We do
use the budget to fill our organizational text fields, but the primary
tracker from a system standpoint is that organizational code - a consecutive
number automatically assigned to an organization unit as it is create in our
system. A good analogy is to consider this code to be like an organizational
accession number that follows the unit, much like we would assign an
accession number to a shipment of records that would always be related to
that shipment. Note that I would not use organizational information as part
of an accession tracking code, due to the aforementioned volatility. I think
the two are handled best as separate data elements.

Dwight Wallis, CRM
Records & Distribution Services Manager
Multnomah County Fleet, Records, Electronic & Distribution Services
2505 SE 11th Avenue
Portland OR 97202
phone: (503)988-3741
fax: (503)988-3754
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-----Original Message-----
From: Carla Hemsing [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Wednesday, July 10, 2002 9:49 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Department codes

I am looking for advice on assigning department codes for records
management purposes, particularly for use in a semi-active records
centre.  Does anyone have a tried and true coding system?  Thanks.

--
Carla Hemsing, Records Management Coordinator
Lethbridge Community College
mailto:[log in to unmask]

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