Authorities covering common business activities

General records authorities (GRAs) set out requirements for keeping, destroying or transferring records of business common to many agencies. The National Archives prepares and issues these authorities. The Administrative Functions Disposal Authority (AFDA) and AFDA Express are GRAs for a range of common administrative functions.

Below is the current set of GRAs available for use by Australian Government agencies. The administrative functions covered by AFDA and AFDA Express are included for completeness. Do not use AFDA or AFDA Express for agency core business records. Agency specific records authorities are used for records of agency core business.

Contents

Accredited Training (GRA 33)

This general records authority sets out the retention and destruction requirements for accredited training records of Australian government agencies that are also Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).

It covers gaining accreditation as an RTO, the planning, development and implementation of training programs, enrolment and assessment of trainees, the awarding of qualifications, and the monitoring of organisational performance.

Note: The authority does not identify any 'Retain as national archives' (RNA) records. RTOs that deliver accredited training in high risk business areas, such as training provided by security or intelligence agencies, or the Department of Defence, must contact the Archives for agreement to use the authority.

General Records Authority 33: Accredited Training


Advisory Bodies (GRA 26)

This general records authority sets out the retention and destruction requirements for all administrative and core business records of both statutory and non statutory advisory bodies. It covers developing and reporting on advice including supporting consultation, membership records, records of meetings and other supporting administrative records.

The XML and Excel files are truncated versions of the GRA for Advisory Bodies which may be useful for uploading into information systems.  They should only be used in conjunction with the pdf version as they do not contain the full information.

General Records Authority 26: Advisory Bodies


Contracts under Seal/Deeds (GRA 36)

This authority covers Contracts Under Seal or Deeds (also known as deeds under seal, speciality, or speciality contracts). It sets out the retention and destruction requirements for contracts under seal or deeds of Australian government agencies. This general records authority identifies some records to be retained as national archives that will not need to be covered in future agency-specific records authorities. It also streamlines the coverage for temporary contracts under seal by combining records currently covered in the functions of Procurement, Legal Services and Property Management in AFDA Express. This general records authority excludes simple contracts, agreements and memoranda of understanding.

General Records Authority 36: Contracts under Seal/Deeds


Encrypted records created in online security processes

This disposal authority allows and sets conditions for the disposal of encrypted records created during online security processes. It includes encrypted versions of inbound and outbound electronic transactions.

General Disposal Authority For encrypted records created in online security processes (pdf, 144kb)


Establishing & winding up entities & companies (GRA 34)

This General Records Authority is intended to cover only the records of establishing, non-routine reviewing, for example as a result of non-compliance, and winding up of these organisations. It also includes the records of appointments, including statutory appointments, to these entities and companies and the personnel records of staff employed under legislation other than the Public Service Act 1999 or previous legislation.

It takes into account legal and organisational records management requirements, and the interests of stakeholders, including Commonwealth agencies and the National Archives of Australia to preserve the archival resources of the Commonwealth.

General Records Authority 34: Establishing & winding up entities & companies


Governing Bodies (GRA 27)

This general records authority sets out the requirement for keeping, destroying and transferring day-to-day administration and operational records of an agency’s governing body such as providing secretariat and administrative support, minutes of meetings, arrangements for travel, leave entitlements, allowances, remunerations and membership appointment and separation records.

The XML and Excel files are truncated versions of the Governing Bodies General Records Authority which may be useful for uploading into information systems. These files should only be used in conjunction with the pdf version, as they do not contain the full information.

NOTE: A 'For Statement' has been added April 2012 under class 21581 to clarify that addresses/presentations made by Governing Body members are retained as National Archives under AFDA/AFDA Express.

General Records Authority 27: Governing Bodies


Grant Management (GRA 28)

This authority is aimed at Australian Government agencies that administer grant programs. It has a similar format to the AFDA Express, with aggregated classes to assist sentencing projects.

General Records Authority 28: Grant Management


Public or Official Inquiries (GRA 29)

This authority applies to the records of temporary, independent inquiries established by Australian Government ministers to inquire into and report on matters of public importance or public interest. The authority covers consultative inquiries as well as more formal Commissions of inquiry other than Royal Commissions.

General Records Authority 29: Public or Official Inquiries


Records damaged beyond recovery in a natural disaster, a defined emergency or other unforeseen circumstance (GRA 30)

This records authority authorises the destruction of records damaged beyond recovery in a natural disaster, a defined emergency or other unforeseen circumstance. It requires the Archives to be notified of records destroyed beyond recovery and the circumstances.

General Disposal Authority 30: Records damaged beyond recovery in a natural disaster, a defined emergency or other unforeseen circumstance


Records Issues for Outsourcing including GDA 25

This disposal authority covers the transfer of custody and ownership of records to contractors providing services on behalf of, or to, government under outsourcing arrangements. The authority is included in Records Issues for Outsourcing which provides guidelines for agencies about their responsibilities for records management when employing contractors.

Records Issues for Outsourcing including General Disposal Authority 25 (pdf, 111kb)


Records Relating to Data Matching Exercises (GDA 24)

The provisions of this Authority are consistent with the requirements of the Data Matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990 and the voluntary guidelines issued by the Privacy Commission on the use of data matching in the Australian Government.

General Disposal Authority 24: Records Relating to Data Matching Exercises (pdf, 30kb)


Records Relating to the Commonwealth of Australia Versus Cockatoo Island Dockyard Pty Ltd Arbitration (GDA 23)

This disposal authority relates to the Commonwealth of Australia versus Cockatoo Island Dockyard arbitration proceedings. This authority is an exception to the general coverage of the other GDAs as it only relates to specific agencies concerned with the case.

General Disposal Authority 23: Records Relating to the Commonwealth of Australia Versus Cockatoo Island Dockyard Pty Ltd Arbitration (pdf, 50kb)


Records Relating to the Intelligence Function in any Commonwealth Agency (GDA 21)

This disposal authority covers records relating to the collection, interpretation and analysis, and distribution of intelligence material related to the security of Australia and Australians. It can be used by any Australian Government agency and covers records created by or received by the Australian Government from domestic or foreign sources.

General Disposal Authority 21: Records Relating to the Intelligence Function in any Commonwealth Agency (pdf, 134kb)


Removal of medical images produced on acetate bases and Photographic negatives produced on cellulose nitrate bases (GRA 35)

The National Archives of Australia has developed this records authority to permit the removal of some records on unstable media, specifically medical images produced on an acetate base and photographic negatives on a cellulose nitrate base from their containers or paper files, for preservation and management.

General Records Authority 35: Removal of medical images produced on acetate bases and Photographic negatives produced on cellulose nitrate bases


Destruction of source or original records after digitisation, conversion or migration (GRA 31) (2015)

The authority allows destruction of many original records after they have been copied, converted, or migrated. 

General Records Authority 31 (GRA 31) - Destruction of source or original records after digitisation, conversion or migration (2015)

The revised version has several changes from the 2012 version. These include:

  • Retain as national archives (RNA) and retain permanently (RP) source records created from 1980 are now covered (previously covered from 1995)
  • Audiovisual records are now covered in the authority
  • Fewer overall exclusions and conditions to the use of the authority
  • Born digital source records cannot be destroyed after they have been reproduced in paper or any other physical format as this would not provide functional equivalence to the digital source record
  • More advice on identifying intrinsic value

Its application to RNA records created before 1980 will be considered by the Archives on a case-by-case basis.

GRA 31 can generally be used when a disposal freeze or records retention notice has been issued except where there is a specific exclusion. It can only be applied to records that are subject to the Eligibility to join a Commonwealth superannuation scheme disposal freeze, with confirmation from the Department of Finance. For more information please contact the Agency Service Centre.

Digitisation of physical records that are Retain as national archives (RNA) and Retain Permanently (RP) must follow National Archives format standards and verification processes.

Additional guidance:


Small Collection Management (GRA 32) (2011)

This authority covers the records used to manage small or incidental collections acquired by agencies through donation, purchase or as an outcome of operational activity. Examples include collections of rock samples, plant samples, confiscated items and other historical items and artefacts. The authority excludes collection items although where Commonwealth records are included in collections, the Archives Act continues to apply.

The Authority does not apply to agencies that have a special responsibility for managing and developing cultural collections.

General Records Authority 32: Small Collection Management


Transfer of custody and ownership of Personal Security Files (PSFs)

This authority permits agencies to transfer the custody or ownership, as appropriate, of PSFs to State and Territory agencies or police forces in accordance with the Australian Government Protective Security Policy Manual (PSPF). Related to broader arrangements to extend the use of the PSM to State and Territory bodies, the authority facilitates the portability of PSFs for employees who move to other jurisdictions and require security clearances. The authority will be of most relevance to agency security advisers and staff responsible for managing PSFs.

General Records Authority: Transfer of custody and ownership of Personal Security Files (PSFs)

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