Case Study – Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)

Case study 'from paper giant to digital excellence'


A cohesive digital transition strategy involves digital asset governance, digital creation and management of information, automated digital sentencing, information migration from shared drives to an EDRMS and automated transfer of information between agencies.  Benefits include information retrieval and access, increased confidence in information reliability and reduced paper storage.

Agency overview

On 6 July 1995 the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) was established by the Civil Aviation Act 1988 as an independent statutory authority with responsibility for conducting the safety regulation of civil air operations in Australian territory and the operation of Australian aircraft outside Australian territory.  Amongst other things, CASA also performs regulatory functions conferred on it by the Airspace Act 2007 and regulations made under that act.  As part of its safety remit CASA is also provides comprehensive safety education and training programmes, and cooperates with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) in relation to investigations conducted pursuant to the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 as this relates to aircraft.

CASA operates as part of a tripartite structure the aim of which is to provide for safe aviation in Australia.  The other members of the tripartite are the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (DIRD) and Airservices Australia (AA). CASA maintains a wide range of ongoing International relationships, primarily through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) - a United Nations body – but also with other international aviation safety regulators.


As a regulator, CASA relied on collecting and maintaining substantial volumes of information, almost exclusively in physical documents, for a range of functions including initial applications, copies of flight crew permissions, operator manuals, surveillance results, educational material and a wide range of corporate documents.

In 2014 CASA formalised a Digital Transition Strategy. The strategy was endorsed by the agency's Knowledge & Information Management Steering Committee (KIMSC), chaired by the Deputy Director of Aviation Safety and provided CASA with the over-arching view of how it should take the next steps towards continuously improving organisational efficiencies, reducing overall costs and contributing to improved safety outcomes.

A number of key components were identified as critical to success, some of which had already at least partially been put in place, but over 2013 – 2014, these reached a level of maturity that delivered real results for CASA.
This submission summarises the range of activities, improvements and practices adopted by CASA to embed 'Digital' within the organisation.

Project objectives

The first step in good governance was to align the objectives for Digital Transition to the overall CASA Goals from the Corporate Plan 2013-14.

  • Comprehensive, consistent and effective regulation to enhance aviation safety.
  • Good governance and continuous improvement of organisational efficiency.
  • Effective and appropriate relationships with the wider aviation community.

From this we developed three clear Digital Information Goals:

  • Assure quality information.
  • Deliver improved ability to retrieve information.
  • Enable better use of CASA information.

This allowed us to effectively make the case across the organisation that this was not superfluous or optional, but was clearly linked to the public statement that CASA had made. Every action, change or proposed activity was tested for value against this statement.

Project execution

Existing CASA policies on information assets management and digital management were reviewed. Two new core policies were developed. The Electronic First and Electronic Transactions policies draw on the Australian Government Digital Transition Policy and the Electronic Transactions Act to baseline electronic approvals and electronic workflows within CASA as the norm. 
Critically, the Electronic First policy mandates the default collection, use, manipulation, and management of information by CASA in an electronic (Digital) format. Exceptions to this policy are only to the extent required by legislation, primarily the Evidence Act and the National Archives Act.

The CASA Information Management Manual was substantially changed to reflect the changed records and information management approach.  The basic principle is: 'born digital, manage digital'.   Supporting the manual, work instructions and supporting documentation such as 'Handling Records Received in Electronic and Paper Formats', 'Electronic Record Keeping Exemption Process' and 'Digitisation Guidelines' comply with industry standards and are current, readily available and accessible digitally.

Information Domain Model

CASA has developed an information domain model, maintained electronically, and reviewed annually to manage digital information assets. Every information asset has roles identified as 'Custodian' and 'Information Delegate(s)' with named individuals identified as Subject Matter Experts and Divisions identified as stakeholders. This reference model is used as part of the overall CASA Enterprise Architecture.

BCS, Taxonomy and Records Authority

CASA has an existing CASA Business Classification Scheme, Taxonomy and a standardised titling model that aligns to the current Records Authority. Working closely with front-line business areas it has become clear that the existing Records Authority needs substantial revision to extend the current automated sentencing. This work is underway.


To support the implementation of digital frameworks, CASA developed the capability to report down to individual level on the usage of the CASA Enterprise Document and Records Management System (EDRMS). This allows us to break down the level of usage for individuals, teams, sections, branches and divisions.  Weekly reports are provided to the broader organisation on the numbers of files created and whether any paper documents have been required.

Digital Checkup

CASA benchmarks progress on Digital Transition against the questions in Digital Checkup to determine where there is scope for improvement, the scale of the effort and how this fits into the broader work program. Resources are set aside each year for an external quality audit on digital information management. 

Document Standards

Document standards and templates now include an EDRMS reference in the footer and mandatory metadata. Metadata standards now support increasing convergence between the old concept of unstructured versus structured information. Revised templates are distributed electronically through the user's own templates folder to ensure the version is current.  All paper copies are now treated as 'copies only' as the electronic version forms the corporate record. The practice of obtaining signatures by scanning into the EDRMS has not entirely ceased, but is continually being reduced through changed business practices.

Approved Record Keeping Systems

CASA use HP TRIM7 as the current corporate Electronic Document Records Management System.  Policy mandates that corporate records must be maintained in TRIM, or in another Approved Records Keeping System. Approved systems are checked against ISO 16175, and listed in the Information Management Manual. 
CASA is upgrading to HP RM8 in the next 4 months to take advantage of additional features.

Electronic Approvals

As well as allowing email approvals, CASA uses the native TRIM workflow and action tracking for electronic approvals. Custom workflows with those approvals have been developed and are in use across CASA in a range of areas from Legal Services to Standards Development. 

User Engagement

Clarity of Purpose

Through the committee and user group, the digital information management concepts and overall vision are tested and refined. Internally, the responsible Branch has a clearly defined vision: “to maximise the value of CASA information assets”. Clearly identifying a single target in this way ensures a consistent approach.


All staff undertake mandatory training in the corporate EDRMS.  A high-level overview is part of the CASA orientation program. Further training is a mandatory on-line training module, electronic help and support resources online and through the service desk.  At-desk, video-link or shared desktop support is also available.

Business Process Integration

CASA is committed to working with line of business areas to ensure that digital information management is embedded into work practices. This means that the underlying information management systems are configured to suit business needs, not that business practices have to change to accommodate systems. Our leaders in this area are our Certificate Management Teams - over the last year a standard digital information management structure has been collaboratively developed through several iterations, and rolled out across Australia to support consistent business practices, good information governance and automated sentencing.

Changing User Behaviours

A review of existing practice identified a lack of confidence in discovery within the EDRMS inhibited take-up, encouraging undesirable behaviour such as the creation of alternative repositories duplicating information.

Moving off Shared Drives

CASA invested substantial time to migrate documents from shared drives into the EDRMS, and gradually converting the existing drives into 'Read Only' repositories so there is reduced duplication of content.

Enterprise Search

CASA identified that the current search tools were inadequate, with the result that paper copies or local electronic copies were kept for reference. CASA invested in an enterprise search tool to reduce duplication.

Improved Metadata

CASA improved metadata for existing content to make discovery easier.

Familiar Navigation

CASA implemented a folder structure in the EDRMS to allow sub-folders, a much more familiar user-paradigm. This single step has been one of the most important influences on user-behaviour.

Project outcomes

Reducing Paper

CASA has adopted some simple strategies to reducing the paper overhead.

  • Don't create it in the first place - through the Electronic First policy.
  • Use electronic approvals – through the Electronic Transactions Policy.
  • Changing business practices to reduce the reliance on paper as a 'back-up'.
  • Encouraging and supporting digitisation at source where this is cost effective.
  • Six monthly desk audits with business areas to identify existing paper stocks that can be sentenced. This is currently targeted to specific types or classes of papers with short retention, or where electronic copies already exist.
  • Distributed sentencing activities. Business areas periodically retrieve a small proportion of current storage, and work with information managers to sentence box contents.
  • Better attribute the storage costs to cost centre managers. Realistically attributing costs for both storage and for any transport and retrieval encourages a minimisation of physical holdings.

As an increasing proportion of our service delivery becomes digital CASA expects a corresponding reduction in the volume of content that does not have an entirely digital life-cycle.

Information Transfer

CASA has identified considerable overhead in the management of information transfer between agencies and between internal systems. This applies to both structured and unstructured data. Subject to the Australian Privacy Principles and other legislative constraints, CASA has enabled automated transfers of structured information between itself and other agencies, and a single responsible point.  For unstructured data a formal export and import process uses an approved secure 'cloud' transfer mechanism. From a digital information management perspective this improves the quality and timeliness of the information received and reduces the cost, and the risk of a variety of systems introducing inconsistency or information loss. 

Automated Integration and Sentencing

CASA has developed a standard mechanism to integrate core regulatory systems with the EDRMS. This means that all 'documents' generated through these core systems are captured once only, digitally, multi-level titling standards, and metadata applied to ensure consistency, before being stored automatically in the EDRMS.
Content in support of license and other permissions application is scanned in the regulatory system and again, enriched with metadata, before capture in the EDRMS. The accuracy and consistency with which this information is captured allows us to sentence on creation or receipt, supporting a truly digital life-cycle for regulatory information.

Mobile Digital Information Delivery

CASA identified significant risks to consistency, administrative cost overheads and the risk of being unable to access corporate data while mobile. Digital information delivery now replaces many old practices of manual discovery and printing of information packs before conducting on-site business activities. The issue of standardised mobile devices, and the provision of a secure transient shared 'cloud' information transfer capability has delivered very major efficiencies.  CASA expects to deliver further efficiencies as it develops applications such as mobile Business Intelligence portals, and aggregated information packages. 

Content Convergence

The increasing convergence between what were traditional definitions of structured and unstructured data has allowed CASA to combine structured and unstructured data into a single query tool. By managing unstructured or document data with enriched metadata and full text indexing it is now possible for properly authorised staff to simultaneously query textual and database data via a mobile application.

Project impact

With the resources available CASA has been able to achieve an organisational transformation where it has moved from an organisation that predominantly uses paper to managing information electronically.

The key to this success has come from aligning the Digital Information Management agenda with the organisation's corporate goals, and using a combination of top-down and bottom up strategies to promote digital information management within the organisation as whole.

Incremental and low cost or no cost initiatives implemented within CASA to promote the use of Digital information Management have largely been part of business as usual activities, but over time have made a  substantial  difference to cost, resource demands, and CASAs ability to deliver to Corporate Goals.

Within CASA it is now expected that:

  1. Paper is a copy only.
  2. Approvals are given digitally.
  3. Digital information is managed appropriately.
  4. Digital Information is high quality, discoverable, and available through a variety of channels.
  5. Digital information can be aggregated and visualised in ways that make it easier to use.
  6. Digital information is mobile.

CASA information management practice improvement has:

  1. Reduced the existing paper stockpiles by 16% in the last year.
  2. Continues to reduce paper stockpiles within the legislative limitations.
  3. Achieved efficiencies allowing the reallocation of 23% of previously allocated positions to other roles.

CASA staff adopting digital information management practices:

  1. Achieve efficiencies by being able to readily locate the information they need.
  2. Maximise information value by sharing appropriately.
  3. Have the administrative burden of managing physical information removed.
  4. Can be effective while mobile, on a range of devices.
  5. Have confidence in the completeness, accuracy and currency of information available.

Appendix I – Information Management Principles

  • Information Management is everybody's business — all groups within CASA participate in information management (IM) decisions needed to accomplish CASA's business objectives.
  • Information is an asset — information is a core business asset that has value to CASA and is managed accordingly.
  • Information is shared — users have access to the information necessary to perform their duties; therefore information is shared across CASA functions and groups.
  • Information is accessible — information is accessible for users to perform their functions.
  • Information quality is 'fit for purpose' — information quality is acceptable and meets the business need for which it is intended.
  • Information is compliant with law and Government guidance — CASA's information management processes comply with all relevant laws, policies, guidance and direction.
  • Information is secure — information is trustworthy and is safeguarded from unauthorised access, whether malicious, fraudulent or erroneous.
  • Common vocabulary and data definition — data is defined consistently throughout CASA, and the definitions are understandable and available to all users.
  • Information is not duplicated — development of information services (such as business intelligence, data warehouse, etc.) available across CASA is preferred over the development of information silos which are only provided to a particular group or section.
  • Decisions regarding information management maximise the benefit to CASA where practicable — a spirit and culture of collaboration and the sharing of data, information and knowledge for the greater corporate good shall pervade all decision-making, especially relating to the selection and prioritisation of programmes, projects and their approval points.
Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019