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    Why Records are Kept:Directions in Appraisal

    National Archives of Australia

    First published March 2000

    Revised 2003

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    Com monw ealt h of A ustral ia 2003

    ISBN: 0 642 34420 5

    Thisw ork is copyright. Apart from any use aspermitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may ber eproduced by

    any process w ithout pri or wr itten permission from the National Archiv es of Australia. Requests and inqui ries

    concerning reproduction and rights should be dir ected to the Publi cations Manager, National A rchivesof A ustrali a,

    PO Box 7425, Canberra Mail Centre A CT 2610, A ustrali a.

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    CONTENTS

    1. FOREWORD 4

    2. WH Y KEEP COM M ON WEALTH RECORD S? 3

    3. WH Y AREN 'T ALL RECORD S RETAI N ED ? 3

    4. WH O IS RESPON SI BLE FOR RETEN TI ON AND D I SPOSALD ECI SI ON S? 4

    5. OUR APPROACH TO APPRAI SAL 4

    Standard appraisal model 5

    Why use a functions-based approach? 6

    Importance of metadata 6

    The A rchives role 7

    6. SELECTI ON OF N ATI ON AL ARCH I V ES 7

    Objectives 7

    Recordkeeping issues 10

    7. THE ARCHI V ES EXPECTATION S AND REQUIREM ENT S FORRECORD S CREATI ON AN D M AI N TENAN CE 10

    A ssessment of needs 11

    Expectations and requirements 11

    8. NOT ES ON TH E NATI ONAL ARCHI V ES SELECTION OBJECTIV ES 15

    Interpretation of objectives 15

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    FOREWORD

    A ppr aisal is a process that id entif ies the need for records. The outcomes of appraisal

    are decisions and plans that set out the actions to be taken for the creation, captu re,maintenance and disposal of records. The N ational A rchives plays a key role in the

    appraisal of Commonwealth government records because our permission is

    required for disposal.

    Whi le our pr incipal appraisal concern has been the determination of retention

    periods and disposal actions, w e are now seeki ng to f oster a more holistic appr oach

    to Commonw ealth recordk eepi ng, including w ider use of modern appraisal

    techniques. To do this, w e are modifyi ng our current approach to make it more

    relevant to the assessment of a broader range of record keepi ng needs.

    We also need t o address issues concerni ng w hich records should be regard ed as

    national archiv es those records that we most need to preserv e. The appli cation of

    our existing criteria has result ed i n the retention of such large quantit ies of records

    that i t is beyond our capacity to pr eserv e them all and m ake them accessible. In 1998

    w e published the di scussion paper Maki ng Choices: Decid ing Whi ch Records to

    Keep for Posterity, (now archived) seeki ng views on this issue. Our deliberations

    have benefit ed from the vi ew s expressed and w e w ish to thank all w ho responded.

    Why Records A re Kept: Directions in A ppraisal outli nes the appraisal framework

    w e are adopting for Commonw ealth records and our revised objectiv es and crit eri a

    for t he selecti on of records as nati onal archiv es.

    Ross Gibbs

    Director-General

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    WHY KEEP COMMONWEALTH RECORDS?

    Commonwealth records are records of the A ustrali an Federal Government and its

    agencies. They are an important, unique source of evi dence and in formation aboutthe nature of the Commonw ealth Government and i ts activ iti es. The creation,

    maintenance and accessibil ity of Commonw ealth r ecords are not only essenti al for

    the conduct of Commonwealth admini strati on but also:

    assist t he Government and the public to scrut ini se the decisions and

    activ iti es of Commonw ealth instituti ons;

    allow the communit y to r etain and transfer know ledge, learn from pastexperience, and protect the int erests of Australians collecti vely and

    indiv idually; and

    help sati sfy peoples int erest i n the decisions and acti ons of Government that

    affected their and p revious generations li ves or shaped the development of

    Australia.

    Commonw ealth records, therefore, have the potential to benefit the Government

    and the community in a variety of w ays.

    Careful attenti on to recordk eeping from the outset is needed to reali se the benefi tsthat records can provid e. We w ant to ensure that Au strali an Government agencies

    create full and accurate records of their acti vi ties and decisions, and maintain those

    records appropriately for as long as they are required. We w il l promote good

    recordkeeping to enhance the value of Commonw ealth records as evi dence for

    admi nistrativ e purp oses, accountability, and as a resource for r esearch. We w ill

    provi de agencies w ith standards and guideli nes for good recordkeeping and

    inf ormation about our requirements for records creati on and maintenance.

    WHY A REN'T AL L RECORDS RETAI NED?

    N ot all records are kept ind efini tely. There are pragmatic reasons for this, and

    communi ty atti tudes to r ecordkeeping also play a part.

    The Commonw ealth creates vast quantit ies of r ecords every year, and there isstrong pressure to economise in the areas of records storage, maintenance and

    servicing. M ost records are in formats that deteriorate over ti me or require constant

    vi gil ance to keep accessible. A ttempt ing to preserve them all ind efi nit ely w ould be

    prohibit iv ely expensiv e and futi le und er current technological and resource

    constraints.

    Just as important is the prevailing v iew, wi thin the community, that not all r ecords

    need to be retained; that it is acceptable or d esirable to d ispose of r ecords w hen they

    are no longer required. This vi ew is reflected in standard business practice and at all

    levels of public administration in Australia. The Governments funding for the

    management of Commonwealth records is premi sed on the assump ti on that only a

    very small pr oporti on of all records created w ill be retained indefinitely.

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    In this envi ronment the A rchives operates on the general pri ncipl e that

    Commonwealth r ecords should not be retained l onger than reasonably requi red.

    WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR RETENTION AND DISPOSAL

    DECISIONS?

    The A rchives is responsible, under the A rchives Act 1983, for ascertaining the

    archival resources of t he Commonw ealth that is, determi ning w hich records

    continue to be required and f or authori sing the disposal of Commonwealth

    records that are no longer required. The process of appr aisal und erpins both. The

    term d isposal covers the destruction, alteration and tr ansfer of records out of

    Commonwealth custody or ownership. We also determine appraisal and disposalpoli cy and procedures for Commonw ealth records. Because of the scope of

    Commonw ealth activ ity , Commonw ealth organisations and the A rchives have to

    share the overall w orkl oad of appraisal and disposal.

    Decidi ng whi ch records continue to be required, and w hich do not, raises a number

    of compl ex issues of theory and practi ce, such as:

    w hose interests to take into account;

    w hose interests should prevail;

    w hen to m ake decisions; and

    how t o appl y criteri a and r equirements, in pr acti ce, to existing and/ or future

    records.

    There appear to be no simpl e answ ers to some of these issues. Both appraisal and

    disposal carr y w ith them degrees of r isk and subjecti vi ty .

    OUR APPROACH TO APPRAI SAL

    We are introducing a new framework for appraisal, w hich w e intend t o use toregulate disposal. In so doing, we wi ll try to ensure that t he requirements for, and

    various interests in, Commonw ealth records are taken into account and that records

    are authorised for d isposal only after due consideration of the ri sks, benefi ts and

    costs.

    This process wi ll involve identifyi ng t he stakeholders wi th interests in Government

    functions and acti vi ti es and associated records, and exami ning the ri sks of not

    meeting those interests. Where there are conflicting interests it w ill be necessary to

    w eigh the case for maintaini ng the records against the case of other stakeholders

    w ho would w ant the records destroyed or otherw ise disposed of. Our task i s to

    make these judgements on behalf of the Government and t he Australian

    communi ty. We need t o consider the resources avail able for storage and the other

    costs of maint aini ng records w hen evaluating stakeholders int erests. We also need

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    to ensure that those records that are retained as nati onal archiv es can benefi t th e

    wider community.

    Overall, w e are aimi ng for a balanced, accountable approach that is open to therange of uses that Commonw ealth records have for dif ferent stakeholders over time.

    Faced w ith lim ited resources, however, w e must set pri oriti es for the preservation of

    records and make dif ficult decisions. We recognise that any record p otentially has

    some value to someone, depending on the natur e of that persons interest, and t hat

    perceptions of w hat i s valuable may shift over time. It is inevitable that some

    records not selected for preserv ati on wil l stil l be of int erest to some peopl e.

    S t a n d a r d a p p r a i s a l m o d e l

    We have adopted the model for appraisal in Standards Au stralias A ustralianStandard for Records M anagement, A SISO 15489 2002. This is a generi c model

    that requires some adaptation for use in the Commonw ealth.

    The A SISO 15489 model hasseveral elements w hich w e beli eve are now needed in

    the Commonwealth recordk eeping regime. These are:

    a top-down approach to appraisal, starting w ith an analysis of the functions

    and acti vi ti es of organisati ons, as opposed t o commencing appr aisal w ith

    accumul ati ons of records;

    assessment of the need for, and uses of, records before or fr om the point of

    their creation;

    consideration of the range of stakeholder interests in, and uses of, records;

    the use of ri sk management techniques in deciding w hich records to keep;

    and

    functions-based classif icati on as the means of control over records creati on,

    management and di sposal, reducing the ri sks associated w it h sentencing by

    thir d parties at a later stage.

    Und er the model, emphasis is placed on developing an understanding of an

    organisation and i ts operating environment. The organisations functions and

    activ iti es are identifi ed, analysed and classifi ed, and the need for records isexplored. Stakeholders w ith an interest in the functions and activ iti es, or in the

    associated records, are also identi fi ed and mapped. From this pl atform,

    organisati ons can plan for the creati on and capture of records in sound

    recordk eepi ng systems and also make arr angements for their maintenance,

    retenti on or di sposal. Decisions about the need for records, includ ing retenti on

    periods, are made wi th reference to:

    business needs;

    the requirements of organisati onal accountabili ty; and

    community expectations.

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    The A rchives interpretation of t hese areas is set out in the statement The A rchives

    expectations and requirements for records creati on and maintenance, w hich can be

    found l ater i n this document.

    W h y u s e a f u n c t i o n s -b a s e d a p p r o a c h ?

    We cannot revi ew the need for records item by i tem some form of grouping or

    classif icati on has to be used. We have decided to base retenti on and d isposal

    decisions on classes that refl ect the functions and acti vi ti es of Commonw ealth

    organisati ons. We consider functional classif icati on to be the most appropriate

    framework for appraisal because thi s form of classif icati on has clear l inks to the

    admini strati ve context in whi ch records are created and used, and can be appli ed

    during curr ent use by people w ho understand the purp ose and status of the

    records.

    A ll Commonwealth records are generated and used in the course of admi nisteri ng

    functions and activ iti es. This relationship, w hich exists from creation and

    throughout a records existence, provi des a consistent basis for developing retention

    and disposal arrangements across the Commonwealth. By tyi ng appraisal and

    disposal to functional classif icati on, we hope to encourage Australian Government

    organisati ons to use their classif icati on schemes to im pl ement fur ther aspects of A S

    ISO 15489. It w il l also provide us w ith a useful basis for monitori ng the extent and

    natur e of di sposal authori ty coverage w ithi n organisations and across the

    Commonwealth, because the classif ication schemes provid e a meaningful reference

    point that is external to the records themselv es.

    I m p o r t a n c e o f m e t a d a t a

    For the appr aisal model t o succeed, however, records must be conspi cuously and

    permanently linked to t he functions and activ ities to w hich they relate. A nyone who

    has experienced t he process of sentencing (that is, matching real records to

    authorised retenti on/ d isposal classes) is aw are that thi s process is not always

    straightforw ard. It can also be a relati vely high-risk pr ocess: a great deal depends on

    the ski lls and experience of the people w hose job it is to interpr et the classes and

    recognise the relevant records. If w e can bring about a closer alignment betw eenretention and disposal classes and the w ay records are created and classif ied by

    using a fu nctions-based classif icati on scheme, the sentencing process w il l be easier

    and the outcomes more predictable.

    Classif icati on schemes based on functions may not ali gn w ell w ith the topics or

    themes people are int erested in. A s w e int end sentencing using functions-based

    disposal classes to become the norm, w e w il l onl y request sentencing on the basis of

    the subject or thematic content of r ecords where there is good cause and a

    reasonable pr ospect of success. Electr onic systems w it h sophisti cated search

    capabil it ies may help to id enti fy and sentence records retrospecti vely u sing such

    non-functions-based p arameters as subjects or themes. H owever, this w il l dependon information about the subject or theme being includ ed in the records themselv es

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    or specif ical ly referenced i n descri ptiv e data (metadata) or i ndexing inf ormation

    about t he records.

    The attachment of effecti ve classif icati on and descri ptiv e data to electronic recordsduring their administrativ e use is crucial f or those records pr oper i nterpr etation

    and subsequent management. Efforts to appraise and sentence electronic records at

    any stage, but parti cularl y after current admi nistrativ e use has ceased, wi ll be

    unsatisfactory or fut il e if essenti al inform ati on about their admi nistrativ e context is

    not d ocumented adequately or has not been pr operl y maintained. A gency staff are

    in the best p ositi on to know their records and how they r elate to particular

    transacti ons and, therefore, to document their context in this w ay.

    T h e A r c h i v e s r o l e

    Under the new appraisal model, w e w il l continue to exercise our statutory

    responsibili ty for authorising disposal. We w ill issue disposal authoriti es w hen w e

    are satisfied that our requirements have been m et and w e have the consent of the

    A ustralian Government organisati on or organisations concerned. Classes of records

    that must be retained w ill also be mentioned i n these authori ties, w hich are

    generally available for publi c inspection.

    We w ill inform organisations of our objectiv es and cri teria for the selection of

    national archives. Where appropriate w e w il l consult stakeholders and undertake

    our own i nvestigations as part of the appr aisal process. As in the past, we must rely

    heavi ly on Australi an Government organisati ons to identif y those of their records

    that are, or could be, national archives and to manage them appropri ately w hile in

    their custody.

    SELECTION OF NATIONAL ARCHIVES

    We have identifi ed fi ve objectiv es w hich appraisers must take into account wh en

    consideri ng w hether records should be regarded as nati onal archives. Records

    selected as national archives should contribute to meeting one or m ore of these

    objecti ves. The objecti ves appl y t o records in any format.

    In setti ng the objectiv es, w e acknow ledge a communit y vi ew that Commonw ealthrecords may have value or signifi cance in a variety of contexts, and that we should

    not pursue narrow selection policies. Accordingly, w e w ill maintain our p ositi on

    that records may be selected as national archiv es because of their admi nistrativ e or

    functi onal signi fi cance or because they are signi fi cant or useful in other contexts.

    H owever, the scope of our statutory role requiresthat our foremost consid eration be

    the relevance of r ecords to d ocumenting Commonwealth activ ity .

    O b j e c t i v e s

    The records identif ied under the objectiv es, together, should provi de an adequate

    account of t he activ iti es concerned, the authori ty under w hich they w ere carri ed out

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    by the Commonw ealth and Commonwealth instituti ons, how imp lementation w as

    effected, who w as inv olved and affected, and the nature and extent of t he outcomes.

    The fir st four objectiv es relate to functional context: governing Australia and i ts

    people. The fif th objectiv e takes in records w hich may have signifi cance in other

    contexts.

    Our f irst objective is:

    To preserve conciseevidenceof the deliberations, decisions and acti ons of theCommonwealt h and Commonwealth insti tut ions relati ng to key functions and programsand significant issues faced in governing Australia.

    In r elation to this objectiv e w e w ill concentrate on Commonw ealth records thatprovi de the best evi dence of d ecisions and activ iti es that relate to i ssues affecting

    the nation as a w hole. The records selected wil l includ e those that document the

    background to, basis for and outcomes of those decisions and acti vi ti es.

    The signifi cance of functions, programs, issues and associated decisions and acti ons

    w il l be assessed in relati on to:

    how cri tical they are, or w ere, in the admini stration of the Commonw ealth

    or Commonwealth institutions; and

    their actu al or potential infl uence or imp act (w hether posit iv e or negati ve)

    on Australian and world affairs.

    A ssessments of signif icance w ill be imp uted to the relevant records. Where the

    functions and activ iti es of Commonw ealth i nstit utions regularly intersect w ith hi gh

    profi le or significant issues, all records generated in the undertaking of th e function

    may be retained.

    Our second objective is:

    To preserveevidenceof thesourceof authority, foundati on and machinery of theCommonwealth and Commonwealth institutions.

    We wi ll focus on records that underpin the structure and functioning of the

    Commonw ealth and Commonwealth instituti ons and define the natur e and extent

    of their jurisdictions, obli gations and p owers.

    Our third objective is:

    To preserverecordscontaining information t hat is considered essential for theprotectionand futurewell-being of Austr ali ans and their environment.

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    We w ould expect such r ecords to compri se unique, i rreplaceable information that is

    needed by national governments now and, probably, in perp etui ty for effecti ve

    planning, decision-making and transfer of knowledge in matters such as health and

    safety, security, social cohesion and envi ronmental management. The capacity of

    records to be used for these pur poses should be clearl y evi dent.

    Our fourth objective is:

    To preserverecords that havea special capacity to ill ustrate the condition and status ofAustralia and its people, thei mpact of Commonwealth government activities on them,and theinteracti on of people with thegovernment.

    This objectiv e w ill focus on records that exempl ify or characterise theimplementati on and impact of major government functi ons and programs. These

    records may embrace both routi ne and exceptional cases, includi ng personal case

    records. Compl ete runs of case records may be preserved w here it i s evi dent that the

    government functions and programs to w hich they relate w ere, or are, of great

    signif icance in t he government or development of A ustralia, or to the communit y.

    Our f if th objective is:

    To preserve records that have substantial capacity to enrich knowledge and

    understanding of aspects of Austr ali as history, society, cult ureand people.

    A lthough Commonwealth records ari se from and d ocument government activ ity ,

    their signifi cance may li e in contexts other than their functional context. For

    exampl e, a Commonw ealth record documenting the routi ne approval of a

    construction project may concern a buil di ng that is later renown ed for i ts

    architectural signif icance. The signif icance of the record, here, largely derives from

    its associations outside and beyond governm ent.

    We w il l take int o account assessments by appr aisers and stakeholders as to the

    signi ficance that Commonw ealth records may have because of their association w ithevents, phenomena, persons, places or themes. Beyond functional context, we w il l

    select as national archives only thoseCommonwealth records that we are convi nced

    have the highest levels of historical, social, aesthetic, scienti fi c, research or techni cal

    signif icance. Preference w ill be given to records that can p rovid e a broad

    community benefit.

    In addi tion, some types of records may be kept because the A ustralian community

    holds them, or the inform ation they contain, in high esteem. This may be evi dent,

    for exampl e, from conti nuing high usage rates or by the commun ity expressing it s

    concerns to the responsible authorit ies.

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    R e c o r d k e e p i n g i s s u e s

    There are several recordk eepi ng issues, some of them of a technical nature, w hich

    may also affect the A rchiv es decisions concerning preserv ation and di sposal of

    records. If records have seri ous technical d efects, such as being unreliable,

    incomplete or inaccessible, we may decid e to destroy them.

    Other factors being equal, w e w ill give preservation pri ority t o records that are

    technicall y good records; that is, they are complete, reli able, authenti c and

    accessible. The existence of adequate inf ormation about the organisati onal,

    functional and recordkeeping contexts of r ecords w il l be an imp ortant

    consid eration. Evi dence of recordk eeping strategies that comply w ith A SISO 15489

    and meet the requirements of full and accurate records w ill also be a factor. The

    areas that w e w il l assess includ e:

    provenance/ authenticity w hether records are what t hey purp ort to be;

    int egrity and completeness whether r ecords have been securely

    maintained t o prevent d eli berate or accid ental unauthorised access,

    alteration or r emoval, and w hether they have context and structure as w ell

    as content;

    accessibility and useability;

    preserv ati on feasibil ity w hether it is technicall y possible to prevent or

    control unwanted alteration or deterioration; recordk eepi ng relati onships and dependencies for exampl e, w here records

    depend on the existence of other records or materials to render them

    accessible and meaningful ; and

    maintenance ri sks (including costs).

    We w il l be using these crit eria and the fiv e selection objectiv es to guid e appraisal

    decision-maki ng. This w il l be w ithi n the framew ork of the appr aisal model

    suggested by A SISO 15489, so all records should be maintained for as long as they

    are required to meet business needs, accountabili ty requir ements and communi ty

    expectati ons, even i f they are not selected as national archives.

    THE A RCHIVES EXPECTATIONS A ND REQUIREMENTS FOR

    RECORDS CREATI ON A ND MA INT ENANCE

    The N ational A rchives has adopted Standards A ustralias A ustralian Standard for

    Records M anagement, A SISO 15489 2002, as the general appraisal model f or

    Commonw ealth r ecords. We have the role of authorising body mentioned in the

    standard in r egard to the di sposal of Commonw ealth r ecords.

    Und er this appraisal m odel, w e expect government agencies to:

    compl y w ith legislati on, standards and accountabilit y requirements to create

    and retain records;

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    analyse the recordk eepi ng requirements of their business acti vi ti es

    comp rehensively and keep those analyses up-to-date;

    document their decisions not to maint ain records in accordance w ithid enti fi ed recordk eepi ng requir ements;

    capture adequate records in recordk eepi ng systems; and

    maintain adequate records in those systems in accessible form for the agreed

    retenti on peri ods, mi grating them betw een systems as required.

    A ppraisal i s, therefore, broader than identi fy ing values and r etenti on peri ods to be

    appl ied to records once they exist. In the new appraisal model the need for records

    should be considered in relati on to stakeholders i nterests and resources, i nclu ding

    the need to make records and maintain them in accessible condit ion to meet

    business needs, the requirements of organisati onal accountabili ty and communi tyexpectations. A ppraisal should be conducted w ithi n a framew ork of fu nctional

    analysis and u nderp inned by business classifi cati on schemes.

    A gencies must submi t documentary evi dence of the analysis of their business

    acti vi ties, includi ng appraisal aspects, before w e w il l consid er di sposal

    authori sation. The documentation should also be available for audi t and monitorin g

    purposes.

    A s s e s s m e n t o f n e e d s

    There are three broad areas for Commonw ealth organisati ons to consider w henresearching and assessing the need t o create, captur e, maintain or di spose of

    records. They are:

    business needs;

    the requirements of organisati onal accountabili ty; and

    community expectations.

    The same record may ful fil more than one need, eg both a business need and an

    accountabili ty requirement.

    The principal assessment techniqu e to be used i s risk m anagement, specif icall ylooking at the ri sks of not meeti ng identi fi ed requirements for records. Legal

    compli ance issues must be given due consideration w hen apply ing risk

    management pr incip les. Costbenefit analyses may also be used.

    Ex p e c t a t i o n s a n d r e q u ir e m e n t s

    We cannot specify in detail the parti cular needs for records that organisati ons may

    have, because these needs are principally identif ied duri ng the research and

    analysis phase. H owever, the three broad areas (business needs, accountabili ty

    requirements and communi ty expectations) can be broken down further andconsidered in relation to the need to create or captu re records and the need to

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    maintain or d ispose of r ecords. A lso, the A ustralian Standard for Records

    M anagement sets out some standard s that should be appli ed in relation to

    parti cular types of tr ansacti ons.

    We expect Commonw ealth organisati ons, in r elation t o their functi ons and

    acti vi ti es, to identify stakeholders and analy se requirements to create, capture,

    maintain and d ispose of records. The results should be recorded i n a formal

    recordk eepi ng requirements document. (For information about documenti ng

    recordk eepi ng requirements, see Designi ng and Impl ementi ng Recordk eepi ng

    Systems: M anual for Commonw ealth Agencies, Step C).

    The A rchives has taken responsibili ty for id entif yi ng the need for r ecords in relation

    to the general admi nistrative functions included in the Keyw ord AA A classifi cation

    scheme.

    Business needs

    We w il l int erp ret business needs as an organisation s need for records to supp ort

    the eff icient and effecti ve performance of its operational and housekeepi ng

    functions, more or less free from the constraints of regulatory requirements or

    commu nity p ressures. Business needs w ould also includ e consid eration of records

    required for th e strategic posit ioning and survi val of an organisati on. The

    organisation, the business areas, and its officers, in thi s context, are the sole

    stakeholders.

    Create/captureWe expect organisati ons to make records as necessary:

    for t he effi cient and effectiv e perform ance of the organisations curr ent

    functions and activ iti es, eg records of the policies, dir ectiv es and p rocedur es

    in force at a given time, and records of i nformation upon w hich subsequent

    action relies;

    to pr otect the financial, legal and other interests of the organisation; and

    where not having appropriate records would constitut e a moderate or

    higher ri sk of poor or inconsistent performance, or loss of continuity.

    Maintain/dispose

    We expect Commonw ealth organisati ons to maintain records in accessible form for

    as long as needed to meet their operati onal needs.

    When authorising d isposal, w e usuall y accept an organisati ons recommendations

    in r elation to business needs, provid ed the organisati on can demonstrate that its

    appraisal pr ocess took all i nternal stakehold ers needs int o account. Where there are

    no accountabili ty or community i nterests at stake in relation to part icular functions

    and acti vi ties, w e may give organisati ons discretion to tailor di sposal arr angements

    to meet changing business needs. Existi ng d isposal authoriti es which gi ve

    permi ssion to destroy r ecords should not be imp lemented w hile there is a

    continui ng business need f or t he records concerned.

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    We may authori se destru ction or other disposal on the basis of a future date or

    event on or after w hich the organisation says that i ts business needs w ill expir e or

    reduce to a point where the risks of disposal are low, or it is not cost-effectiv e to

    retain t he records.

    Requirements of organisational accountability

    We w ill interpret these requirements prim aril y as an organisations legal or formal

    obli gations to make, keep, or retain records; plus any requirements imp osed by

    stakeholders such as recognised control li ng, audit or moni tori ng authorit ies; pl us

    any standards or codes of practi ce to w hich an organisati on openly claims it

    subscri bes. The requirements of organisati onal accountabili ty include the

    requirements specif ied by the A rchives for Commonwealth recordk eepi ng and the

    retenti on of r ecords as nati onal archives.

    Create/capture

    We expect Commonw ealth organisati ons to make records:

    to meet i nternal accountabili ty needs, ie to allow reasonable scru ti ny and

    analysis of programs, systems, use of resources and acti vi ti es of emp loyees

    (including managers) by organisati on management, f or the purp oses of

    management and to help meet external stakeholders requirements;

    to meet regulatory requirements, eg w here records are required by law to be

    created or kept, or are requi red by a recognised contr olli ng, audit or

    monitori ng authori ty to w hich the organisation i s subject;

    that are required by standards, codes and practi ces the organisati on is

    obli ged to meet or has volunt aril y adopted; and

    where not having appropriate records would constitut e a moderate or

    higher r isk of being unable to account to relevant regulatory bodies for the

    decisions, acti ons, resource use or standard of performance of the

    organisation.

    N ote that accountability to the Parl iament, M ini sters, the Courts, statutory bodies

    and the community depends to a large degree on the existence of records w hich

    document admi nistrative decisions and acti ons, the reasons for them and decision-making processes that w ere follow ed. The points at w hich major or non-routine

    decisions are taken in r elation to policy or implementation i n relati on to any

    functi on should be especially w ell documented and recorded together w ith any

    supp orti ng materi al needed to und erstand the matter.

    Maintain/dispose

    We expect Commonw ealth organisati ons to maintain records in accessible form if:

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    there is a law or other instru ment that says or implies that they must be kept

    and/ or maintained f or a defined period of time (whi le w ithin that period),

    but no longer than th e maximum retention p eriod specifi ed by a law;

    it i s reasonable to believe that the records may be required for a judicial

    proceeding;

    destru ction or d isposal w ould compr omi se existing or future claims in

    relation to the rights and entitlements of persons wi th whom t he

    organisation or i ts predecessors has dealt, w here those rights and

    entit lements are know n or projected at the tim e of appraisal;

    destruction or disposal w ould d amage the organisati on or the

    Commonwealth;

    the A rchive's permi ssion is required to dispose of the records and suchpermission has not been communicated in w ri ti ng (as required by law), or

    an earli er permi ssion has been rescinded;

    the records belong to a class of records, how ever based, that has been

    nominated by the A rchives as needing to be retained in the publi c interest as

    national archives.

    We w il l not knowi ngly authorise disposal, and existing authorit ies should not be

    imp lemented, whi le formal pr ocesses are in t rain or p ending t o see or use the

    records concerned. The A rchives may authorise destruction or other disposal on the

    basis of a futu re date or event on or after w hich accountability requirements are

    expected to expi re.

    Community expectations

    We w il l interpr et a communit y expectation as being a w idely held v iew of

    acceptable or appropri ate practice in relation to recordkeeping at the time of any

    analysis of requirements. The vi ew m ust also be well k nown or readily di scoverable

    w ithi n the community. Such a vi ew may be in advance of legal or other

    accountabilit y requirements. It also may be at odds w ith curr ent or previous

    practi ce. The commu nit y concerned may consist of stakeholders such as the

    relevant industry sector, the general community , or groups w ithi n the communityto w hich the organisation has special responsibili ty in carryi ng out it s functions and

    activities.

    Create/capture

    We expect Commonwealth organisations to make records w here a community

    expectation has been identif ied and w here not having appropriate records w ould

    pose a moderate or higher ri sk of damage to the organisati on. Such damage may

    come, for example, from a public relati ons perspecti ve, or because the organisati on

    w ould be unable to account adequately to the communit y for the decisions, actions,

    resource use or standard of performance of the organisati on.

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    Maintain/dispose

    We expect Commonw ealth organisati ons to maintain records in accessible form if

    they are aw are of a commun ity expectation that records relating to their functions or

    activ iti es should or wil l be retained and there is a moderate or higher ri sk ofdamage to the organisation, the Commonwealth or the public were disposal to

    proceed.

    NOTES ON THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES SELECTION OBJECTIVES

    These notes provi de inform ation about the objectives that underpin t he selection of

    Commonw ealth records as national archives and their interpretation. The notes w il l

    also contain a list of topics of parti cular int erest to the A rchives and i ts users, w hen

    available.

    The types of records listed under the objectives are indicative only: the objectives

    and other crit eri a should be used to assist in fr aming and assessing retention and

    disposal recommendati ons for particul ar cases. Our determ inations and

    descri ptions of the records concerned wil l be includ ed in retenti on and di sposal

    authorities.

    We w ill upd ate these notes periodi call y in the light of experience.

    I n t e r p r et a t i o n o f o b j e c t i v e s

    Objective 1

    Context: Governing Au stralia and its people.

    To preserve conciseevidenceof the deliberations, decisions and actions of the

    Commonwealth and Commonwealt h insti tut ions relating to key functions and programsand significant issues faced in governing Austr ali a.

    Recordsbeingsought

    This objectiv e relates to records w hich provi de the best evi dence of:

    major decisions in r elation to a function, especially those that are made onbehalf of the nation or whi ch have nati onal appli cati on or implicati ons,

    signal a new or changed policy, or involve substantial expendi tu re;

    includ ing records that reveal the background to, and reasoning behind,

    decisions and acti ons;

    the means and manner of impl ementati on of major d ecisions, eg through the

    form ul ati on of poli cies, p rocedures and strategies.

    The signifi cance of functi ons, programs and issues, and associated decisions and

    actions, shoul d be assessed according to:

    how cri tical they are, or w ere, in the admini stration of the Commonw ealthor Commonwealth institutions; and

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    their actu al or potential infl uence or imp act (w hether posit iv e or negati ve)

    on Australian and world affairs.

    The foll owi ng factors should be considered w hen assessing signifi cance. The greaterthe magnitude of the influence or impact of the factor, them ore important the

    records should be consid ered for archival p urposes.

    Economic im pact

    Environmental impact

    Extent of profound changes to liv es of ind ividu als, fami lies or communi ties

    Extent of the popul ati on affected in a general w ay

    Governm ent expendi ture or commi tment

    International reaction

    Political or legal ramifications

    Publi c reacti on or sensitiv ity

    Signi fi cance to defence and national security

    Social impact

    In r elation to a substantiv e function of a Commonw ealth i nstit uti on, activ iti es lik ely

    to give rise to such records include: formu lating, determi ning and interpreting p olicy and procedures;

    rejecting or diverting from higher level policy;

    monitoring and analysing policy and procedures;

    reviewing, interpreting and developing legislation;

    negotiating and commi tting to hi gh-level t reati es or agreements;

    negotiating and committing to major or i nnovativ e contracts; and

    strategic management of an organisati on and i ts functions.

    Objective 2

    Context: Governin g A ustralia and its people.

    To preserveevidenceof thesourceof authority, foundati on and machinery of theCommonwealth and Commonwealth institutions.

    Recordsbeingsought

    This objectiv e relates to the most authori tative formal instruments that underpi n the

    existence of the Commonw ealth and Commonwealth institut ions and d efine thenatur e and extent of t heir juri sdictions, functions, obligations and powers.

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    A ctiv ities lik ely to give rise to such records include:

    passing and promulgati ng l egislati on;

    authori sing the establishment, functions and operations of a Commonw ealth

    institut ion or of a major office;

    authori sing changes to the functions or operations of, or the

    di sestabli shment of, a Commonwealth institution or a major office;

    delegati ng legal authori ty to perform dut ies and functions; and

    making judgements or ruli ngs in r elation to juri sdiction and p owers.

    Objective 3

    Context: Governing Au stralia and its people.To preserve recordscontaining information t hat is considered essential for theprotection

    and futurewell-being of Austr ali ans and their environment.

    Recordsbeingsought

    This objectiv e relates to r ecords comprising uni que, i rreplaceable inform ation that is

    needed by nati onal governments now and probably in p erp etui ty for effecti ve

    planning, decision-making and transfer of knowledge in matters such as health and

    safety, security, social cohesion and envi ronmental management. The records and

    the inform ation they contain should have a clear role in t ransferr ing vital

    knowl edge for the benefit of future generations.

    This objectiv e relates to continui ng, ult ra long-term admi nistrativ e needs.

    A ctiv ities lik ely to give rise to such records include:

    identify ing and monitoring toxic sites;

    recording t he status of persons in relation to ri ghts, entit lements andobli gations that historically have had v ery long-term admini strative and/ or

    social relevance, eg land ownership and citizenship;

    recordi ng of data on the spread and control of diseases or biological agents;

    and

    recording of environmental observational data.

    Objective 4

    Context: Governing Au stralia and its people.

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    To preserverecordsthat havea special capacit y to il lustratethecondition and status ofAustralia and its people, thei mpact of Commonwealth government activities on them,and theinteracti on of people with thegovernment.

    Recordsbeingsought

    This objectiv e relates to r ecords that exempl ify or characteri se the imp lementation

    and i mpact of major government functions and programs, and records that show

    the nature and extent of Commonwealth government intervention in peoples liv es

    and the interaction of people w ith t he government.

    This may includ e records:

    identify ing t he persons, groups or areas affected by the impl ementation of

    poli cy d ecisions (whether posit iv ely or negati vely);

    of ind iv idual cases, to the extent necessary t o indicate the nature of routine

    and non-routi ne imp lementation; and

    of the outcomes of the decisions and their im plementation, w hethersuccessful or u nsuccessfu l, eg through statisti cal analyses, reports, review s,

    precedents and amendments.

    Compl ete runs of case records may be preserved where it i s evi dent that the

    government functions and p rograms to w hich they relate w ere, or are, of

    great significance in the government or development of A ustrali a, or to the

    community.

    A ctivi ties likely to give rise to such records include:

    documenting the progress of signifi cant infr astru ctur e and development

    projects;

    documenti ng aspects of li fe and condi ti ons, eg to inform poli cy maki ng or

    for historical or propaganda purposes;

    inquir ing i nto, revi ew ing, reporti ng on or studyi ng issues, policies and

    actions;

    processing representations or app eals;

    surv eyi ng, polli ng or consult ing the community or interest groups on policy

    proposals and changes;

    audi ting perform ance; and

    informing or educating the public or sections of the community w ith a view

    to infl uencing their behaviour and p racti ces, eg through adv ert ising

    campaigns.

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    Objective 5

    Context: Pri ncip all y other, non-government r elated contexts.

    To preserve records that have substantial capacity to enrich knowledge andunderstanding of aspects of Austr ali as history, society, cult ureand people.

    This objecti ve should be kept i n mind w hen assessing the signi fi cance or uses that

    records may have outside their functional context. It is not necessary to make

    assessments in r elation to this objecti ve if the records or class of records concerned

    are being retained und er any of t he other objectives.

    Signi fi cance statements, w here prepared and submit ted by appr aisers or int erestedpersons, should i denti fy the records concerned as clearl y as possible and foll ow

    generall y accept ed appr oaches for assessing cultural signi fi cance. A rchives

    delegates should select as national archives only those Commonwealth records that

    they are convinced have the highest l evels of hi storical, social, aesthetic, scientif ic,

    research or technical signifi cance. Preference is to be giv en t o records that can

    provi de a broad community benefit .

    Recordsbeingsought

    This objectiv e relates to records that:

    constit ute a rich, concise source of genealogical inform ation not readil y

    available elsew here; or

    shed li ght on signi fi cant events, phenomena, persons, places or themes in

    Australian history and society.

    Topics of archiv al int erest

    A list of topics of particular i nterest to the A rchives and it s users wi ll be

    prepared fr om the find ings of our research projects. A topic may relate to

    any of the selection objectiv es. The presence of a topic on the list w ould

    indicate that the topic has been perennially popular w ith, or is currently in

    strong demand by, our clients. The expectations of clients and the risks that

    not meeti ng these expectations w ould p ose to the achievement of theA rchives corporate goals need to be considered in the appr aisal process.


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