The government requires all agencies to move to digital records management. This will provide a number of efficiency and other benefits including improved corporate governance, improved business processes and reduced costs.
Digital records management means that most of your agency’s records are created, stored and managed digitally. Where possible, incoming paper records are digitised so that new paper files are not created.
Anything created and captured as evidence of your agency’s business activities is a record. Digital records may include email, social media, databases, websites or content in mobile devices, business systems or other digital technologies.
Digital records must be proactively managed to ensure that they remain accessible and usable over time and through periods of organisational and technological change.
For more on managing digital information and records, see the digital continuity plan.
Government information is a valuable national resource. It is also a key corporate asset. To get the most from your agency’s information it must be managed in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Almost all information is now created in digital form. It is wasteful to convert digital information to paper to store and manage it. It will also become increasingly impractical as agency business becomes more reliant on digital technologies. Persisting with paper practices in a digital world is not only costly but also stifles innovation.
Australian Government agencies need to meet a range of legislative, regulatory and governance requirements. Managing records digitally strengthens corporate governance by helping agencies meet legal obligations and regulatory and governance requirements in an efficient and cost-effective way.
Well-managed digital records support transparent, accurate and timely responses to applications under information access legislation or under subpoena.
Authoritative records provide evidence of, justify or explain actions or decisions. They substantiate responses to audit, official inquiry or other types of investigation. Records also protect the democratic rights and entitlements of individuals and provide evidence of interactions between the people of Australia and their elected governments. Good digital management means not only that records can be easily identified and located but also that they are trustworthy, authoritative and able to withstand scrutiny.
Digital management provides accountability benefits that are difficult to duplicate in paper systems. Comprehensive and accurate audit trails not only help an understanding of communications, decisions and actions that have been carried out but also show when a record was created, accessed or amended and by whom.
A well-managed digital information and records management program is a risk mitigation strategy. The ability to demonstrate what and why decisions and actions were taken and how they were carried out reduces the risk of non-compliance due to incomplete or inaccurate records. Reputational risks that can result when information cannot be found are also reduced.
Digital records management will better support disaster recovery and business continuity. Managing your information digitally allows off-site back-up of records which a paper-based system cannot easily offer. It also safeguards vital corporate information from loss, misuse, tampering and physical damage.
In our 2010 survey Records management practices and arrangements in Australian Government agencies, agencies reported that digital information and records management provided:
Managing your agency’s information digitally allows you to maximise the value of this asset. Access to well-managed, trusted and accessible digital information is a valuable resource for staff over time.
Well-managed digital information enables faster access to and better control over records that support your agency’s business. Benefits include:
In the survey, reported benefits of digital information and records management included:
Digital information and records management supports faster evidence-based decision making.
Ready access to information helps staff make the right decisions at the right time. Well managed digital information supports corporate memory and helps staff understand past decisions, processes and activities.
Agencies told us in the 2010 survey that digital information and records management provided:
Workflows and processes benefit from better access to and faster retrieval of information. Service delivery improves when staff can quickly locate the right information when it is needed.
Well-managed digital information means business information is available and usable now and in the future. Assured continuing information access is vital to continuous improvement of services, outputs and operational effectiveness.
The 2010 survey reported that digital information and records management:
Transitioning to digital records management will lead to cost benefits in the long term. Agencies that have adopted elements of digital records management report measurable benefits.
A well-managed digital records regime frees staff time for core tasks rather than wasteful activities associated with paper records or poorly managed digital ones. Time savings include:
Managing information digitally requires less storage space and reduces the rate at which storage needs increase. It will reduce the costs that you would otherwise incur for storing, retrieving and handling new paper records.
It will also reduce stationery costs associated with creating paper records, such as paper, file jackets, labels and printer cartridges.
Benefits reported in the 2010 survey include: