This paper considers the role of archival description as a tool for institutional and social accountability. The analysis is conducted through a comparison of accountability in traditional post-hoc archival description with description in the continuum-based model of recordkeeping. The author suggests that while both approaches have validity as tools of documentary accountability within their spheres, neither alone can ensure the wider accountability of an institution to itself or to society at large. A broader organizational and social accountability is necessary to ensure the integrity not just of current and historical records, but also of the larger spectrum of actions of the agency responsible for creating and keeping those records.

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