Well-managed business information is a valuable asset that contributes to good government through:
Reliable and useable information is crucial to business performance. Digital information can be made available across geographic areas and can be accessed simultaneously, enabling the transformation of business processes. Effective digital information management allows the Australian Government to innovate and deliver services that better meet the needs and expectations of clients and other stakeholders.
Managing public sector information well ensures it remains reliable and trusted and facilitates use and reuse, by both the Government and the general community.
The Information Management Standard has been developed and issued to assist Australian Government agencies to create and manage business information effectively by outlining:
This Standard is consistent with the key concepts and principles of International Standard ISO 15489 (2016) Records Management.
The National Archives will review how agencies are performing against the Standard as part of its regular survey and evaluation of the Australian Government information management environment.
Under the Archives Act 1983, the Archives is the lead agency for setting information management obligations and standards for Australian Government agencies.
This Standard applies to Australian Government business information, that is information and records in digital and non-digital formats that are created, used or received as part of government business. This includes both structured and unstructured information.
The Standard applies to business information created and managed:
This Standard does not cover the management of collections of published reference material or artefacts such as those typically found in libraries or museums.
Information is a corporate asset critical to all Australian Government activities, which range from developing national policies on trade, taxation or foreign affairs, to servicing claims for individual benefits and entitlements. Every day the Australian Government takes actions or makes decisions that affect the lives of Australian citizens, residents and visitors.
The Public Service Act 1999 sets out the values and code of conduct for Australian Public Service (APS) employees. The APS Values and Code of Conduct in Practice require employees to ‘document significant decisions or actions consistent with the Archives Act 1983 and to a standard that will withstand independent scrutiny’. The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 requires the Australian Government to provide meaningful information to the Parliament and the public and to accountably govern and manage public resources, including information assets. These Acts are part of a legislative framework that ensures that the Australian Government performs accountably and the Australian community can understand why decisions are made or actions taken.
The Archives is one of several agencies that assist Australian Government agencies to improve their capabilities and performance in managing their business information. The Archives also ensures that Australians, and the global community, have access to the archival collection of the Australian Government. Some areas where other agencies provide guidance and advice on managing information include:
A list of whole-of-government sources – including legislation, policies, standards, advice and guidance – that impact on the information management responsibilities of most Australian Government agencies is available on the National Archives’ website – naa.gov.au.
 Australian Public Service Commission, APS Values and Code of Conduct in Practice, Australian Government, 2016 p.2
Creating and managing information according to the Principles in this Standard will result in business information that:
This Standard will benefit agency business outcomes by enabling them to:
The strategic value of well-managed business information is commonly under-estimated. Poorly managed information can:
Well-managed business information mitigates these risks.
This Standard is part of a framework that will include implementation guidelines linking to additional detail and technical guidance on the Principles outlined in the Standard.
For further information about this Standard and implementation guidance contact the Agency Service Centre.
The Standard is based on the following eight Principles that provide the foundation for well-managed business information:
The Standard does not prescribe how agencies should meet the Principles. Australian Government agencies vary in size and complexity. Every agency has a unique information management environment with varying culture, risk tolerance, legacy systems and resources. Agencies should implement the Principles to meet their specific circumstances.
The Principles should be implemented using a risk and value-based approach. The recommended actions should be followed more closely for high value information or information needed to mitigate high business risk. Indicators of this type of business information include that it:
1.1 Include information governance within corporate governance structures and frameworks.
1.2 Develop frameworks, strategies and policies outlining how business information will be managed to:
1.3 Ensure valuable information assets are known and controlled by registering them and assigning a responsible business owner or custodian to oversee their management.
1.4 Review and audit how well information management practices and processes support the business and realise return on investment. Develop strategies for quality assurance and continuous improvement.
1.5 Resource information management with:
1.6 Senior management (particularly those with specialist information roles) coordinate and review information governance and report regularly to the agency head.
1.7 Senior management provide leadership by actively supporting information management, including authorising key products and tools.
1.8 Foster a culture that values and manages information as an asset and an enabler for business use and community reuse.
1.9 Produce and disseminate policies and procedures providing guidance and direction to staff on creating and managing business information. Assign and explain information management responsibilities at all levels from agency head to general staff, including outsourced providers, contractors and volunteers.
1.10 Train and educate staff on an ongoing basis to assist them to meet their responsibilities. Support ongoing professional development for staff with specialist information management roles to enable them to keep up to date with current and evolving information management trends.
Create business information that is fit for purpose to effectively support business needs.
2.1 Identify where there is a business need to create a record.
Business needs include:
2.2 Document information to meet business needs about activities including:
This should be recorded at the time of the activity or shortly afterwards.
2.3 Create good quality business information that is fit for purpose, which means that it:
2.4 Ensure business information creation is integrated into business processes and that staff know when and how to create fit-for-purpose business information.
Describe business information so that it can be found, understood and accessed appropriately when needed.
Information that describes an information asset is known as metadata.
3.1 Analyse and describe what needs to be known about business information so that all needed information can be dependably found, understood and used.
Business information can be found if it contains or links to:
Business information can be understood if it contains or is persistently linked to description about:
Business information can be accessed appropriately when needed if it contains or is linked to description about:
3.2 Determine what level of description is adequate.
Adequate description of business information:
3.3 Design or provide tools and systems that:
Store business information securely and preserve it in a useable condition for as long as required for business needs and community access.
4.1 Store business information in a secure and suitable environment.
A secure and suitable environment is one:
4.2 Develop and implement preservation strategies to ensure that information remains useable including:
Analyse and document how long to keep business information to meet identified business and community needs.
5.1 Analyse and document how long business information needs to be kept to meet:
Under the Archives Act 1983 agencies need the permission of the Archives before:
This permission is provided in the form of records authorities. The Archives determines which Australian Government information will be transferred to the Archives as part of the national archives collection.
5.2 Ensure, as appropriate, that the retention period of business information is known by:
5.3 Provide written and other advice to staff on the types of business information without ongoing value which can be routinely destroyed without formal permission from the Archives. Within the Australian Government this is known as destruction in accordance with a normal administrative practice (NAP).
Keep business information for as long as required after which time it should be accountably destroyed or transferred.
Plan to do this at regular intervals as keeping unneeded business information is costly and makes required information more difficult to find.
6.2 Confirm that there is no need to keep business information beyond the authorised retention period.
Examples of needs to keep business information longer include:
6.3 Follow any protective security requirements for secure and complete destruction.
6.4 Document the action, authority and approval for destruction or transfer.
Manage needed business information in systems that protect its integrity and support trusted and reliable use.
7.1 Identify what functionality the system will need to enable and support use of business information including the required level of:
7.2 Determine the degree to which it is necessary to trust or prove that business information is genuine, complete, accurate and unaltered.
7.3 Create, save or capture business information into systems with sufficient functionality to satisfy operational and other stakeholder needs for reliable and trusted information.
This includes the ability, as required, to:
7.4 Have appropriate governance measures to ensure systems enable the creation or capture, and management of quality, fit-for-purpose business information.
7.5 Periodically review that systems are managing information effectively to support business needs.
7.6 Plan for decommissioning of systems and migration of needed business information.
7.7 Provide risk-based advice to staff on where business information should not be stored, because it cannot be managed appropriately. Examples of such areas may include uncontrolled network drives, removable media, email applications and third party sites such as social media platforms.
Create and manage business information so that it can be effectively accessed over time by staff and other users with a right of access.
8.1 Make business information readily available unless there is a reason to restrict or partially restrict access, such as security or privacy considerations.
8.2 Remove restrictions on business information as soon as they no longer apply.
8.3 Facilitate the use of business information based on the understood needs of known and potential user groups, for example web content accessibility needs.
8.4 Evaluate the technological environment within which business information will be shared. This could include staff in remote areas or members of the public without access to the most recent technologies.
8.5 Plan to progressively improve business systems governance and architecture to facilitate sharing information and reduce information silos internally and externally.
8.6 Release and publish business information, including datasets, for public discovery and reuse.
This should be done according to Australian Government law and policy, including to:
8.7 Govern, create, describe, store, preserve, retain and manage business information with the end purpose of making it easy to find, easy to use and easy to share for reuse, for as long as needed.