Thomas Foster-Baker (1/21/2011)
should we consider using transactions tables in our databases so any errors can be amended with adjustments to transactions so all corrections can be followed as we do in account programs.
This would please the auditors and give a clear picture of what has happened.
I agree. This is a fascinating issue that I should learn more about, but it seems to me that as long as the chain of correction is audited and logged as well, then there would be no danger of being accused of covering up or lying. To follow Steve's example, if a tax error was found and corrected, then, in something analogous to a version control system, the original archived data would be preserved in a sense by showing what it was before, then what changes were needed to correct the error, and then what the post-change data was. That would also allow the system to track what "new" historical data leads up to the current state of the system. In some ways that is better because it won't leave people with questions about apparent inconsistencies in the data trail, which would likely come up if the archived data were "silently" corrected without any other logging of what happened to change it.
As far as I am concerned, the only reason changing historical data becomes suspect is when certain changes are left out to give the impression that the original data was different from the start, i.e., rewriting the past in Animal Farm fashion, otherwise known as fraud. As long as all changes to the data are tracked and associated with the people who changed it, and of course as long as the changes themselves are legal or necessary to bring the data in line with the law or with whatever the accepted business requirements are, then I don't see a problem with such presumably necessary modifications.