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Annual performance statement

National Archives of Australia and National Archives of Australia Advisory Council Annual Report 2015-16


I, David Fricker, as the accountable authority of the National Archives of Australia, present the Archives’ annual performance statement for the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016, as required under paragraph 39(1)(a) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). These results are reported against the performance measures outlined in the National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16, and as published in the Archives’ 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements.

In my opinion, the annual performance statement is based on properly maintained records, accurately reflects the performance of the Archives, and complies with subsection 39(2) of the PGPA Act.

Signature of David Fricker, Director-General of the National Archives of Australia

David Fricker
Director-General
National Archives of Australia

4 October 2016


The purpose of the Archives is outlined in the Archives Act which identifies its key roles and responsibilities. In particular, the objects of the Archives Act are:

  1. to provide for a National Archives of Australia, whose functions include:
    1. identifying the archival resources of the Commonwealth; and
    2. preserving and making publicly available the archival resources of the Commonwealth; and
    3. overseeing Commonwealth record-keeping, by determining standards, and providing advice to Commonwealth institutions; and
  2. to impose record-keeping obligations in respect of Commonwealth records.

The Archives fulfils these functions by undertaking a range of business activities, supported by strategic direction setting, governance and corporate areas.

Results

Deliverables

Performance criterion
Percentage of National Transfer Plan (entity transfers) completed
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 deliverables, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.360
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 89% against a target of 95%

A total of 14.9 terabytes of digital records and 1shelf kilometre of paper and analogue records of national archival value were transferred to the Archives for preservation and public access. While 100 per cent of records planned for transfer in 2015-16 were transferred, 11 per cent of those transfers were not completed within the processing period set out in the National Transfer Plan or the transferring agency was not informed of a delay ahead of time. Steps have been taken to help ensure that this percentage improves, including closer monitoring and simpler and more accessible data and templates.

Performance criterion
Number of at-risk items provided preservation treatment
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 deliverables, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.360
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 196,338 against a target of 200,000

More than 196,000 items received preservation treatment, including on-demand and proactive digitisation and imaging services, preservation services and record-based projects. The Archives did not meet the target of 200,000 items owing to the commencement of preparations of the Canberra-based collection for the move to the NAPF.

Performance criterion
Number of record pages added to the Archives’ website (RecordSearch)
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 deliverables, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.360
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 14,405,638 against a target of 1,500,000

More than 14.4 million record pages were added to RecordSearch, greatly exceeding the target of 1.5 million. This significant over-achievement is a result of the completion of several projects including the digitisation of 6 million passenger arrival cards and the microfilm collection, and the preservation, description and digitisation of selected World War I repatriation records.

Performance criterion
Percentage of items issued to the public and entities within service standards
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 deliverables, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.360
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 100% against a target of 95%

This criterion relates to the issuing of records directly to reading rooms and government entities. It refers to records open and available for public inspection.

Performance criterion
Percentage of reference enquiries responded to within 30 days
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 deliverables, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.360
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 75% against a target of 85%

The Archives facilitates access to the collection by responding to enquiries from the public and government entities. The Archives received 85,292 reference enquiries and responded to 75 per cent of them within 30 days. The Archives did not meet the target of 85 per cent owing to increased demand for service records associated with the centenary of World War I consuming available resources.

Performance criterion
Percentage of records examined and cleared within 90 days
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 deliverables, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.360
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 92% against a target of 100%

Of the 53,670 records that were subject to a request for access, 48,835 were access examined and 44,945 (92 per cent) were cleared within the statutory 90 days. The target of 100 per cent was not met due to delays in receiving advice from the entities controlling the records (in accordance with the Archives Act).

Performance criterion
National reading room network business opening hours met
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 deliverables, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.360
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 99% against a target of 90%

The Archives maintains a network of reading rooms in each capital city where original records – including documents, maps and audiovisual material – can be viewed. Staff assist people to locate information and resources, and to access and use the collection. Reading room opening hours met Service Charter standards 99 per cent of the time, exceeding the target of 90 per cent.

Performance criterion
Number of records accessed through the National Reference Service
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 deliverables, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.360
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 111,526 against a target of 75,000

More than 111,500 records were accessed in reading rooms, or by Archives staff on behalf of those seeking information about, access to, or a copy of a record. As well as the ongoing interest in accessing migration records, the centenary of World War I heightened interest in the personnel and repatriation records of those who served in the war.

Performance criterion
Archives website availability
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 deliverables, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.360
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 99% against a target of 99%

The Archives' comprehensive online presence reaches a very broad audience, providing information, collection research services and several specialised web spaces including RecordSearch, Discovering Anzacs, Australia’s Prime Ministers and social media sites. Despite minor unscheduled outages, the Archives met its target of websites being available 99 per cent of the time.

Key performance indicators

Performance criterion
Satisfaction rating on information and records management products, services and advice
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 key performance indicators, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.361
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 98% against a target of 90%

The Archives builds digital information and records management capability across the Australian Government through face-to-face training, e-learning, online videos and advice. Training services are further strengthened by a fully digital learning environment. A 98 per cent satisfaction rating with these services was determined through conducting random sample surveys of clients who accessed the Agency Service Centre, feedback rating surveys of clients who attended face-to-face training and events, and feedback surveys from clients who accessed online training programs.

Performance criterion
Percentage of entities involved in the Archives’ information management training and events
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 key performance indicators, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.361
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 69% against a target of 75%

The Archives assists entities to effectively manage their information and records, and to achieve digital transition and digital continuity. A total of 125 government entities participated in courses and workshops, equating to an achievement of 69 per cent against a target of 75 per cent. The Archives will continue to promote information management training and events during 2016–17 to increase engagement with government entities.

Performance criterion
Percentage of entities reporting against Check-up Digital (annually)
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 key performance indicators, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.361
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 99% against a target of 95%

Check-up Digital is an online assessment tool for entities to gauge their information management maturity. It also allows the Archives to monitor the status of information management across the Australian Government, and to provide targeted standards, guidelines, advice and other services. A total of 99 per cent of entities completed Check-up Digital, exceeding the target of 95 per cent. This reflects the success of the Digital Transition and Digital Continuity 2020 policies and entity commitment to manage digitally business information.

Performance criterion
Percentage of the total collection described at item level
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 key performance indicators, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.361
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 34% against a target of 32%

The Archives arranges and describes records in the collection with respect to their provenance and original order. This facilitates greater public access to the collection. At 30 June 2016, a total of 34 per cent of the collection was described at item level, exceeding the target of 32 per cent. This reflects the success of description projects such as Project Albany, and innovative approaches to description such as the crowdsourcing ArcHIVE website.

Performance criterion
Percentage of visitors who are satisfied with their experience
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 key performance indicators, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.361
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 93% against a target of 90%

Visitor satisfaction is measured through responses to surveys available at reading rooms and public programs, and teacher evaluations of school programs. Visitor feedback is a valuable tool in planning future programs and services. A total of 93 per cent of visitors reported being satisfied with their experience, exceeding the target of 90 per cent.

Performance criterion
Total number of visitors to the Archives
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 key performance indicators, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.361
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 470,738 against a target of 177,000

The Archives engages with the public through networks, forums, exhibitions, and education and outreach programs. More than 470,700 people visited the Archives, greatly exceeding the target of 177,000. Visitors included those who attended reading rooms and exhibitions across the nation, and people accessing Archives records through loan arrangements with other cultural institutions.

Performance criterion
Total number of onsite visits by students as part of an organised educational group
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 key performance indicators, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.361
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 8,707 against a target of 68,500

The Archives delivers onsite and online educational programs to schools across Australia, including remote communities, regional areas and home-schooled groups. Overall 123,805 students engaged with the Archives 8707 onsite and 115,098 online, reflecting a significant increase in student engagement with the collection online. Programs include a curriculum-based civics and citizenship program and the Centenary of Anzacs program utilising key records in the collection in an experiential hands-on guided delivery. Online resources include digi-books developed for ABC Splash.

Performance criterion
Percentage of visitors and participants in program activities who report an increased awareness and understanding of the Archives and Australia’s heritage and democracy
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 key performance indicators, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.361
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 91% against a target of 90%

Visitor and teacher responses to evaluation surveys provide insight into their level of awareness and understanding of the Archives and Australia’s heritage and democracy. A total of 91 per cent of visitors reported an increase in their level of awareness and understanding, against the target of 90 per cent.

Performance criterion
Total number of visitors participating in public and outreach programs
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 key performance indicators, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.361
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 106,096 against a target of 90,500

The Archives facilitates a range of outreach programs to increase access to the collection. These include touring exhibitions, temporary visiting exhibitions and public events such as the Enlighten Festival (where Australian National University School of Art students lit the National Office façade with projected images) and the Constitution Day Speakers Forum. Indigenous records tours were held during National Reconciliation Week, and school-holiday programs attracted young audiences. More than 106,000 people attended outreach programs, exceeding the target of 90,500.

Performance criterion
Number of records accessed online through RecordSearch
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 key performance indicators, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.361
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 10,579,254 against a target of 12,000,000

RecordSearch is the Archives’ online collection database and is available through the corporate website. Several hundred thousand descriptions and digital copies of records are added to RecordSearch each year. Users are also able to access RecordSearch via a number of the Archives’ satellite websites. Nearly 10.6 million records were accessed through RecordSearch, against a target of 12 million. Users spent an average time of 12 minutes, which equated to around 25 pages, for each session.

Performance criterion
Total number of visits to the Archives’ websites
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 key performance indicators, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.361
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 4,692,520 against a target of 5,000,000

The Archives maintains a corporate website and satellite websites that allow people to engage with and explore the collection. Nearly 4.7 million visits were made to the Archives' websites, against a target of 5 million. While the number of visits was slightly lower than expected, the number of page views was significantly higher than anticipated.

Performance criterion
Number of page views on the Archives’ websites
Criterion source
  • Programme 1.1 key performance indicators, 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements, p.361
  • National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015–16
Result against performance criterion
Achieved 36,161,033 against a target of 15,000,000

The Archives maintains a corporate and satellite websites that allow people to engage with and explore the collection. There were more than 36.1 million page views on the Archives’ websites, against a target of 15 million. The number of page views on the Archives’ websites was significantly higher than anticipated, indicating that users find the material both relevant and engaging.

Analysis of performance

In 2015–16 the Archives achieved its outcome and, with only a few exceptions, met or exceeded its performance targets. It also responded to environmental factors that determined its activities and priorities. Among the most significant of these environmental factors were the:

  • increasing need to respond to the growing volume of digital information being created by Australian Government entities, including providing them with advice as well as addressing the Archives’ storage and preservation capabilities
  • continued requirement to provide storage for the significant volumes of paper records in the collection or still to be transferred from entities
  • increasing community expectations about access to information via online channels.

The collection

In support of identifying the archival resources of the Commonwealth, the Archives focused on:

  • negotiating with entities to identify records of national archival value through the development and implementation of 27 records authorities. A streamlined approach was trialled for the development of records authorities for smaller entities, which contributed to this achievement
  • developing the collection by transferring one shelf kilometre of paper and other analogue records, and 14.9 terabytes of digital records into the collection. Through planning, prioritisation and negotiation with entities, the Archives continues to identify and target records of archival significance due for transfer.

Preservation and access

In support of making publicly available the archival resources of the Commonwealth, the Archives focused on:

  • identifying and providing preservation treatment to more than 196,000 collection items, enabling access to items in a reading room or through digitisation; proactive preservation projects; and preservation copying through digitisation. A significant focus of preservation activities was preparation for the relocation of Canberra-based holdings to the NAPF, including stocktake, repackaging records for protection during the relocation and prioritising of at-risk records
  • providing contemporary storage capability to secure and preserve the archival resources of the Commonwealth by upgrading the Archives’ Sydney repository to deliver a temperature and humidity-controlled storage environment, continuing preparations for the relocation of approximately 15 million collection items to the NAPF, and investigating options for a refurbishment project to store a further 75 shelf kilometres of records
  • promoting the Archives and accelerating access through websites, publications, educational programs, marketing and communication activities, exhibitions and events to enable people to engage with and explore the collection. Significant contributions were made to increase the accessibility of the Archives’ collection including the preservation, description and digitisation of selected World War I repatriation records; the digitisation of 6 million passenger arrival cards and a large part of the microfilm collection; and innovative approaches to description such as the crowdsourcing ArcHIVE website.

Digital transition

In support of overseeing Commonwealth information and records management by determining standards and providing advice to Australian Government entities the Archives focused on:

  • the Australian Government’s objective to move Commonwealth entities to digital information and records management by launching the Digital Continuity 2020 policy in October 2015. The policy sets a number of interim targets and pathways for entities to achieve by 2020 and is further supported by practical assistance offered via the Archives’ information and records management products and services. During the reporting period, significant improvements in digital information and records management were made, including 74 per cent of entities reporting that they would transition to fully digital practices by 2016
  • demonstrating best practice through progressively meeting Digital Continuity policy targets including working with business areas to increase the uptake and integration of digital processes and approvals, reducing corporate paper holdings by 84 per cent in preparation fo the move to the NAPF, and upgrading the electronic records management system to HP Records Manager 8
  • measuring information and records management maturity and setting clear directions for improved practices through the online questionnaire Check-Up Digital and the triennial survey 'Information and records management practices in Australian Government agencies'. In 2015–16 results show that Archives products, tools, strategies, standards and advice have assisted improving in the degree to which entities work digitally by default, senior management support for digital information and records management, and the availability and security of information.