UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The role of data interchange standards in satisfying recordkeeping functional requirements in electronic message handling systems Rajotte, Joanne Therese


This thesis examines the role of data interchange standards in helping to meet archival and records management requirements in two types of electronic message handling systems, electronic mail and electronic data interchange. A detailed study of two data interchange standards, the X.400 Message Handling standard and the X12 Electronic Data Interchange Format standard, is conducted. These two standards facilitate the reliable transmission and communication of interpersonal messages between individuals, and information relating to business transactions between computers. These standards are closely examined to determine to what extent they are able to satisfy the functional requirements for recordkeeping identified as part of a project conducted at the University of Pittsburgh. The use of standards to satisfy functional requirements is one of the tactics identified by the Pittsburgh team. The others are policy development, system design, and system requirements' implementation. An electronic mail system in use at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, and an electronic data interchange system planned for implementation at the same organization are examined to determine to what extent these systems are able to satisfy functional requirements. Recommendations as to the use of other tactics to satisfy requirements are made. This study determines that the standards examined are restricted to satisfying requirements relating to the capture, maintenance, and usability of records. They are limited to ensuring that messages are reliably transmitted, and that the identities of users are verified as correct. They are unable to ensure the authentication, reliability, or completeness of records as these terms are understood in archival theory. The use by the Pittsburgh team of the terms authentic, reliable, and complete is also shown as being problematic. In the Pittsburgh schema, these terms relate to the capacity of systems to ensure the safe flow of messages between users, not the authenticity of the messages themselves.

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