Guidelines for developing and implementing a normal administrative practice (NAP) policy

Normal administrative practice (NAP) is a process that allows agencies to destroy certain types of low-value and short-term information in the normal course of business.

The National Archives recommends that all agencies develop a NAP policy to ensure it is applied accountably and in accordance with your agency’s business context and requirements.

Developing an effective NAP policy depends on understanding your business environment and assessing the risks. The Archives has developed a NAP policy template to assist you.

Scope of NAP

NAP cannot be used to dispose of information that is, or should be, covered in a records authority.

NAP cannot be used to destroy valuable information where there is a gap in your records authority coverage. This information must be retained until it is covered by a records authority, and then disposed of in accordance with the records authority.

This includes information that is required:

  • for accountability purposes
  • for the ongoing efficient administration of agency business
  • to protect rights and entitlements of individuals, groups, or the Government, or
  • because of its cultural or historical value, or to meet community expectations.

Understand your business risk

The NAP policy template developed by the Archives provides a sound basis for your policy. Whether using or adapting the template, your policy should limit or exclude the use of NAP for information that is of high value or relates to areas of high risk, or provide more detailed guidance on how NAP can be applied to this information. For example, NAP could be applied to reference copies, but not original material.

You need to be aware of:

  • risks such as potential legal action in some business areas
  • information that is needed to protect the rights and entitlements of individuals, groups or the Government
  • information needing to be kept for regulatory or accountability purposes
  • information your agency needs to refer to in the future.

One of the risks in implementing NAP is that people who apply it as part of their daily work may not be fully aware of what NAP covers. There is a risk that they will destroy valuable information inappropriately, or that they retain information that can be destroyed using NAP.

To reduce confusion for users, NAP policy needs to be consistent with other elements of your information governance framework such as strategies, policies and procedures and needs to align with your records authorities.

Depending on the risks or information value, you may want to specify how NAP can be used for information that is held in specific business systems, certain business areas, or for particular roles.

Your NAP policy may allow preliminary research or drafts of some documents to be destroyed, but not for others.

Authorisation

Your NAP policy should be authorised by your agency’s Chief Information Governance Officer and/or Information Governance Committee.

Implementing your policy

Once your agency’s NAP policy is approved, you need to ensure is it widely distributed and readily available for all staff and contractors. For example:

  • run information sessions when the policy is first released, and then provide regular training for new staff or as a refresher
  • regularly review and update the policy for examples of information that it covers
  • develop detailed NAP guidelines for high risk business areas, or your ICT staff

Refer staff to the Archives' Keep it or delete it: making good choices about information online training module. The module is for everyone who works for the Australian Government, and provides advice about the different types of business information agency staff and contractors can or can't destroy as part of daily work.

Topics covered include:

  • normal administrative practice
  • information you must keep
  • information and risk
  • destroying Australian Government information legally and accountably

See Legislation, policies, standards and advice and Retaining records for legal proceedings for further information.

For access to ‘Keep it or delete it’, contact the Agency Service Centre.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017