Media release: Wednesday, 6 August 2008
Government archivists across the world should develop close links with 'natural allies' to encourage better recordkeeping across their public services, says Ross Gibbs, Director-General of the National Archives of Australia.
He was speaking at the 16th International Congress on Archives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in July which was attended by 1200 international delegates.
'In addition to their better known heritage role, government archives perform a vitally important role in supporting the integrity, accountability and the efficiency of public offices,' said Mr Gibbs. 'They do this by providing expert advice on creating, managing and disposing of records.'
However he acknowledged that public officials often have such heavy demands on their time that they give low priority to messages of good recordkeeping.
Mr Gibbs said it was therefore vital for archives to develop close links with other high profile institutions such as auditors-general, public service commissions and ombudsmen, which understand the vital importance of good recordkeeping as an 'enabler of good governance'. He referred to such organisations as 'natural allies of archives'.
Joining Mr Gibbs in presenting 'Archives and Their Allies: Recordkeeping for Good Governance' were Des Pearson, Auditor-General of Victoria, (Mr) Rigo Lua, the Public Service Commissioner of Papua New Guinea and Leo Donnelly, the Deputy Ombudsman of New Zealand. The speakers all stressed the importance of agencies working together to ensure good recordkeeping and public office accountability.
Mr Gibbs told the audience that the National Archives' recent move from the arts portfolio to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet was significant in that it co-located the Archives with other integrity and accountability agencies. They include the Australian Public Service Commission, the Australian National Audit Office, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Privacy Commissioner and Privacy & FOI Policy Branch of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
You can read the four papers from Archives and their Allies.