Media release: Wednesday, 24 October 2012
Within three years, all Australian Government agencies will be expected to save, store and manage new information electronically under a new target set by the National Archives of Australia – in order to deliver on the Government's Digital Transition Policy.
The Director-General of the National Archives of Australia, David Fricker, said by 2015 it was expected that all information that was digitally generated by agencies would be stored and managed digitally and transferred in digital formats to the Archives.
"The digital deadline we have set will be no surprise to the 200 government departments and agencies that will be required to meet it. For the last few years we have been encouraging them to make the transition from paper-based to digital information management and storage. We will continue to provide essential advice and expertise to guide agencies in managing digital information to ensure it remains accessible and usable into the future."
The National Archives' Digital Edge training program will provide government agencies with the skills and understanding about digital information management, to give them the edge as they move towards the 2015 deadline.
Mr Fricker said with the explosion in the volume and complexity of information it was simply no longer feasible, practical or cost-effective to persist with paper-based business practices and storage.
"In 2009 it cost Australian Government agencies $220 million just to store the paper records that they already hold and of course this will only increase unless there's a concerted effort to stop creating paper records. When the Archives surveyed agencies two years ago, they estimated they would create an additional 115 shelf kilometres of paper records annually, using around 1.7 million reams of A4 paper."
Arts Minister Simon Crean said the digital transition had multiple benefits.
"By moving to a digital system we not only save on paper and storage space – we become more sustainable and it costs less – it's a win-win situation," Mr Crean said.
"Just as the internet revolutionised working practices, we will see similar benefits as digital information and systems become more readily available."
"These benefits will include better informed decision making, improved governance and accountability, more effective storage and retrieval – all accompanied by significant cost savings."
"While some people still feel the need to print information to paper 'for the record', the reality is that we live in a global,digital environment where very few documents need to be stored on paper – it is vital for government agencies to meet community expectations and embrace the shift towards a digital system."