An administrative change refers to a change in the way that government business is allocated between agencies. It is also known as machinery-of-government change. Administrative change often happens after elections, but it can also occur at other times. There are four types of administrative change:
When any of these happen, the records relating to those business activities need to go to the agency that will be doing the work. When the government privatises or outsources agencies or business, the issue of transferring ownership of records also arises.
The basic principle to remember with any administrative change is that records follow business. Records relating to the business that is being transferred should go to the agency that will be continuing the work. Agencies that are losing business need to surrender control and transfer records to the agencies that are gaining the business.
If the records are maintained in electronic systems, formal arrangements regarding access, security, compatibility and servicing contracts must be agreed to between the losing and gaining agencies. This could include handing over storage media (eg magnetic tapes or optical disks) or computer systems to the gaining agency.
If there is little or no compatibility between the electronic systems of the respective agencies, transfer could be complicated. For example, the losing agency may be required to provide some form of contractual service to the gaining agency to maintain an electronic system.
The following guidelines will assist agencies that need to lose or gain records. These guidelines are not format-specific, they apply to all records that have been created as a result of business, irrespective of whether they are paper-based or digital.
For records purposes, an agency 'controls' the records that document the business or functions it undertakes and is known as the 'controlling agency'.
The Archives will seek input from controlling agencies when making decisions about the management of records that have been transferred to the Archives, including custody, access and disposal. For advice on how to retrieve or view records that have been transferred to the Archives, see Access to records held by the Archives.
If a series of records has some items in it controlled by one agency and other items are controlled by another agency, you can either:
keep the series intact and formally arrange for one agency to hold the records on behalf of the other, recognising that one agency controls certain items and the other agency controls the others.
If the series is in the custody of the Archives, we will register both agencies as being controlling agencies.
In rare cases, specific record items may relate to the business or functions of not one but two agencies, and so the two agencies jointly control the records. In such cases, you can either:
In such a case, archival records which have been sentenced against a current records authority should be transferred to the Archives with both agencies being controlling agencies. In these circumstances you should discuss with the Archives the possible transfer of sentenced archival records no longer required for current business use.
During the first week after the revised administrative arrangements orders are issued, agencies should work out what needs to be done to align their information and records management with the new arrangements and contact other agencies where necessary. After a month, agencies should have completed any arrangements for transferring the control of records and, where necessary, made the actual transfer of records.
Gaining agencies will need to consider whether or not there is a previously issued records authority (RA) that covers the records that have been gained. A gaining agency will have a number of options available:
Records authorities issued from July 2000 are available. You may be asked to provide details of your current agency core business and existing practices as background to your query.
Administrative changes usually result in the redevelopment of government websites. As websites are considered a record documenting the interaction between an agency and the Australian public, a snapshot of the old and new sites should be taken and lodged with the National Archives in accordance with entry 1935 of the Administrative Functions Disposal Authority or entry 20329 in AFDA Express General Record Authority (pdf, 401kb).
Further advice on managing web resources is contained in Archiving Websites: Advice and Policy Statement (pdf, 58kb) (doc, 62kb) and Archiving Web Resources: Guidelines for Keeping Records of Web-based Activity in the Commonwealth Government (pdf, 200kb).
Please contact the Agency Service Centre if you have any queries.
The Australian Public Service Commission has produced a publication Implementing Machinery of Government Changes to assist agencies.