Australian Government Digital Transition Policy

This page outlines the original Digital Transition Policy and additions to the policy since July 2011. All requirements are still valid although some organisation names and terms have changed since the creation of the original policy.

Policy as approved 2011

Background

The Australian Government Digital Transition Policy was developed by the Department of the Prime Minister of Cabinet and approved in July 2011. The National Archives of Australia is lead agency for implementation of the Policy.

Scope

The Government Digital Transition Policy applies to all Commonwealth agencies, regardless of their legislative status. This includes portfolio departments, statutory and non-statutory agencies, prescribed agencies and other Commonwealth entities including Commonwealth authorities, Commonwealth companies, and Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 (CAC Act) bodies. These are referred to in the Policy as 'Australian Government agencies'.

Digital information and records management means that the majority of agency records will be created, stored and managed digitally and, where possible, incoming paper records will be scanned so that new paper files are not created.

For many agencies the Policy means moving from paper-based records management to digital information and records management.

Purpose

The purpose of the Digital Transition Policy is to move Australian Government agencies to digital information and records management for efficiency purposes.

Requirements from July 2011

Requirements for agencies

1. Enlist senior management support to drive change

Secure senior management support to drive a change to digital information and records management. A culture which values effective information and records management practices needs support from leadership. Management which invests in staff awareness and training in digital information and records management promotes a strong digital culture.

2. Check-up 2.0 self-assessments

Assess information and records management capabilities annually using the National Archives' self-assessment tool Check-up. The first assessment will enable agencies to establish a benchmark. Agencies should aim at least to meet the minimum requirements and to build on this in subsequent years.

3. Reduce paper stockpiles

Focus on reducing paper stockpiles that are overdue for disposal by conducting regular sentencing and disposal programs using records authorities issued by the Archives.

4. Manage digital information wherever it is held

When acquiring business systems consider how the records will be managed for as long as they are needed. Give preference to those systems that effectively support records management and comply with the international standard ISO 16175 Principles and Functional Requirements for Records in Electronic Office Environments (endorsed by the Archives).

Note that agencies are also required to comply with the requirements of the ICT Customisation and Bespoke Development Policy and Central ICT Governance Arrangements which requires them to use off-the-shelf solutions to support records management.

5. Consider what resources are needed

Information and records areas need to be adequately resourced with skilled staff and appropriate systems to support the transition and the on-going management of digital information and records. Savings made, for example, by reducing storage costs for paper records, should be invested in appropriately qualified staff and systems to support effective digital information and records management.

Requirements for the National Archives

The Archives, in consultation with other agencies, is required to develop a Digital Continuity Plan to provide practical guidance to agencies on the management of digital information for as long as it is needed.

The Archives, with the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), will provide opportunities for agencies to receive additional guidance and advice on the policy. This will be done through AGIMO, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) and National Archives networks, including the Archives' GAIN Australia online and face-to-face forums.

Requirements for AGIMO

AGIMO will collect details of agencies' current records management systems including proposed upgrades or replacement of those systems, as part of the Government Solutions Register (GSR) annual refresh. The information gathered will allow AGIMO to advise on opportunities for improved efficiency, consistency and collaboration in Government. The GSR is refreshed in consultation with agencies annually, and updated data is made available to agencies through GovDex in the third quarter of each year.

Reporting

The Archives, in consultation with AGIMO and the OAIC, is required to report annually for three years to the Minister, commencing in March 2012, on the status of agencies' information and records management practices, and advise on opportunities and strategies to improve efficiency.

The Minister will report to the Prime Minister in 2014 on the progress of agencies in transitioning to effective digital information and records management and provide options for any additional strategies that may be required to achieve this goal.

Additional Policy requirements since July 2011

Limiting the creation of paper records

Records created digitally after 2015 (that is, from the beginning of 2016) that are eligible for transfer to the National Archives will be accepted in digital format only.

Accepted by the Minister for the Arts, 2 April 2012.

Government information and records that are created digitally after 2015 and are not eligible for transfer to the National Archives should be managed in digital formats.

Endorsed by the Minister for the Arts, 29 April 2013.

Improving information governance

The National Archives will develop a policy framework for information and records management to guide agencies.

Accepted by the Minister for the Arts, 2 April 2012.

Check-up assessments

Australian Government agencies should continue to submit annual Check-up assessments to the Archives for at least another three years from 2013 (that is to 2016), with authorisation from the agency head each year.

Endorsed by the Minister for the Arts, 29 April 2013.

Reporting

The Archives will continue to report to the Minister annually for at least a further three years from 2014 (that is, to 2017) on the status of digital information and records management in the Commonwealth, and identify further opportunities and strategies to improve efficiency.

Endorsed by the Minister for the Arts, 29 April 2013.

Maintaining high-level attention on digital transition

The Archives will further liaise with the Australian Public Service Commission to ensure that the State of the Service survey continue to contain questions relating to information and records management.

Endorsed by the Minister for the Arts, 29 April 2013.

Building capability in agencies

The Archives, in consultation with agencies, will develop targets to raise the level of professionalism in information and records management across the Government.

Endorsed by the Minister for the Arts, 29 April 2013.

Reducing paper stockpiles and normalising transfers of digital records

The Archives, in consultation with individual agencies, will schedule routine transfers of physical and digital records to the Archives.

Endorsed by the Minister for the Arts, 29 April 2013.

Digital Continuity 2020

The Archives will develop a new Digital Continuity 2020 policy to progress the digital information agenda, improve government efficiency and support e-government and the digital economy beyond 2015.

Noted by the Attorney-General, 26 May 2014.

Clarifications

Agencies

Following the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the PGPA Act), which came into effect 1 July 2014, agencies are now known as corporate or non-corporate entities. The Policy applies to all entities.

Check-up

Meeting the minimum requirements in Check-up 2.0 meant achieving a rating of 'adequate' against each of the 33 minimum requirements for information and records management.

Check-up Digital has replaced Check-up 2.0 from 1 July 2014 and is a practical online survey designed to gauge digital information management maturity and set clear direction for improved digital practices.

Government Solutions Register (GSR)

The Government Solutions Register has now been replaced by the Agency Solutions Database that is available through Govshare on the Department of Finance website.

Office of the Information Commissioner

The Australian Government announced its decision on Tuesday 13 May 2014 to disband the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) by 1 January 2015.

More information

Updated July 2014

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