UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The archival concept of competence: a case study of the federal administration of agriculture in Canada, 1867-1989 Stewart, Kelly Anne


This thesis sets out to explain how spheres of responsibility or competences are assigned in the administration of government functions in order to assess the ways in which archivists can come to terms with increasingly rapid rates of administrative change in the performance of their work. It examines statutes and government publications to present a picture of the evolution of the competence of agencies of the government of Canada given responsibility for carrying out activities in administration of the function of agriculture. It is found that knowledge of the assignment of functional responsibility is essential to a number of archival tasks. It is vital to know all the bodies participating in carrying out the function when appraising records. A vital part of identifying the external structure of a fonds lies in determining the competence of the agencies creating records in it, and this knowledge must be effectively communicated in archival description. Finally, the concepts of function, competence, and activity, if clearly understood, can guide the development of vocabularies to assist users of archives to find loci of administrative action relevant to searches they are undertaking. Accumulating information about the functions, competences, and activities of organizations and keeping it current can serve many purposes in the administration of records during the entire life cycle. Organizations need this information to control and provide access to records for administrative purposes and to facilitate secondary access under freedom of information and privacy legislation or for historical research purposes. The method of analyzing how functional activity employed in this study can be used for all government organizations in Canada.

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