John McDonald joined the National Archives in 1975 as a data archivist with the Machine Readable Archives Division. In 1979, he graduated with a Masters degree in Historical Geography from Carleton University, Ottawa. In 1981, he joined the Treasury Board Task Force on Access to Information and Privacy where he was responsible for helping government institutions with the implementation of the legislation. Currently he is responsible for a National Archives program that assists government institutions in the management of their records (with an emphasis on the management of electronic records). His involvement with electronic records in office systems began with a field trial project at the Canadian Department of Communications. The lessons learned from that experience led to an initiative called Information Management in Office Systems Advancement (IMOSA) which resulted in the development of functional requirements for the filing, storage, protection and retrieval of records from records management systems that essentially mapped existing records management approaches. One of the partners in the project was Provenance Systems which refined the requirements and a working prototype into a product called Foremost. Meanwhile, work proceeded with Treasury Board Canada (the central agency responsible for information policy), government institutions and the government's procurement office to enhance the requirements for use in a Treasury Board led shared systems procurement to select a single records system for a cluster of around 20 departments. A guidance was issued to departments on the management of their records which emphasized that while requirements for automated records systems and guidance on the management of shared space might be useful for now, organizations should turn to solutions that incorporate record keeping into automated business processes. A demonstration prototype has been developed in an effort to illustrate this concept.
In addition to electronic records in office systems, he is managing related projects on core competencies for the records specialist, the adoption of a records management standard for the federal government (based on the Australian standard), and the development of enhanced approaches to the description of government records. Between 1993 and 1996, McDonald was chair of the International Council on Archives' Committee on Electronic Records which produced three products: 1) Guide for Managing Electronic Records from an Archival Perspective; 2) Electronic Records Management - A Literature Review; and, 3) Survey of Electronic Records Programs. He is currently chair of a new ICA committee called the Committee on Electronic and Other Current Records which will be holding its first meeting in The Hague in June, 1997. He is also a Past-President and Fellow of the Society of Canadian Office Automation Professionals, Chair of the federal government's Information Management Forum and Chair of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Records Council.
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16 June 1997