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14.11.2019

Deputy Director General Päivi Happonen's opening remarks, DLM Forum 14 November 2019

Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues,

I would like to wish you all warmly welcome to the National Archives on this November day.

Digitalization is one of the key topics during Finland’s EU Presidency. Our objective is to strengthen digitalization in public administration in order to support European sustainable growth as well as to promote digitalization and technology in an efficient and versatile way. Further, we want to emphasize customer oriented digitalized administration. Digitalization requires data, and exploiting data, in turn, is a requirement for better services. Large, publicly open masses of data are a significant competition factor. Machine learning is one of the most efficient ways to squeeze all the accessible benefit out of the masses of data. To this is also connected the high guality and safe data management and use.

Decision-making, social planning and research need up-to-date, reliable digital data. The users need to be able to rely on data, but without a clear context the data will become uncertain and unrealiable. Planning, management and steering of data lifecycle are enormously important factors when we want to be ensured that the data is reliable.

Data systems and the data in them are a central part of the public government activities. Authorities shall act efficiently and economically as well as to serve their customers guickly and in a reliable way. To enable this, the data should move between the data systems of public administration as smoothly as possible. As far as fluency is concerned, it is important that the same data is collected only once, after which all authorities can use it. The objective is that the organisations of public government open the public interfaces of their data systems. In this way, we try to dismantle administrative storage bins as well as reduce saving the same data many times. Finland is trying to bring the public services for all citizens and companies in digital format by 2023.

Digital management in full is possible only then when all the data produced by administration is preserved in electronic format regardless its time of preservation. This will be attained by digitizing all the analogical data possessed by authorities and getting them content recognized through joint services for the use of administration, researchers and citizens. Mass digitization of the National Archives of Finland, its validation and disposal of analogical data have aroused a lot of international interest. We ourselves have also searched for international comparisons especially from Norway, the Netherlands and Australia.

In Finland, only the National Archives has a total understanding of the data systems and documentary evidence of the public organisations. Records management systems used by the public authorities have been certified in accordance with the Sähke requirements of the National Archives. Sähke requirements give framework for the electronic records management and reliable digital preservation and archival of the documents. With the Sähke certificate the public authorities can make sure that the data system fulfills the framework mentioned before.

Legislation concerning the whole data management is under renewal process in Finland and this will also affect the duties in the National Archives. There is a concrete threat that the life cycle of data will be divided strictly into operative phase and archival phase. This renewal means a significant drawback in the traditional Finnish data management.

The ambitious aim of the current government is to make the Finnish public government the best in the world. Legislation and administration will be developed so that digitisation, renewal ability and sustainable growth are its basic pillars. Also, the renewal of the Archives legislation has been taken into account in this. In this work we closely follow the ongoing renewals of our neighbours Sweden and Norway. International interoperability will be forwarded by developing digital systems in co-operation with the member states of the European Union and our neighbours Estonia and the Nordic countries.

In May 2018, the European Commission published a Communication “Towards a common European data space”. This package of measures is driven by the previously adopted PSI Directive on the re-use of public sector information and the GDPR, which entered into force in May 2018. The aim of the Communication is to create conditions for new business activity and innovations, strengthen democracy and civil society, enhance administration, and diversify the information resources available to education and research.

Achieving significant and social benefits requires that the public and private data are opened as widely as possible. This policy requires interoperability also in archived data and in the data systems of archives. The successful implementation increases significantly the reliability of the public data of the researchers’ and decision makers’, and more and more strengthens the social impressiveness of the archives. The ongoing and soon starting EU projects such as Archiving by Design and E-ARK3 support this goal very well. The results of the projects must be implemented as part of the national policies, which will promote the conformity of the digital data management in Europe.

Dear Audience. Digitalizing administration, research and citizen use also demand archives to renew and develop their operations. Archives have a major role in the management of these masses of data, in the archiving and permanent preservation of this socially important data.

Management of the life cycle of digital data is more important now than ever before. I wish you a rewarding and innovative event. Co-operation is power!

Päivi Happonen, Deputy Director General, DLM Forum 14.11.2019

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