Publications and tools

The National Archives has a range of publications to help you manage your records.

For records authorities issued by the Archives other than the Administrative Functions Disposal Authority (AFDA) and AFDA Express (below), please go to Agency-specific records authorities or General records authorities.

Administrative Functions Disposal Authority (AFDA and AFDA Express)

The Administrative Functions Disposal Authority (AFDA) sets out requirements for keeping or destroying records of administrative business performed by most Australian Government agencies. This includes functions such as finance, human resources, procurement and publications management.

AFDA Express is a streamlined version of AFDA. It is an easier, quicker and cheaper option for agencies to use.

Administrative Functions Disposal Authority

AGLS Metadata Standard

The AGLS Metadata Standard is a set of descriptive properties that government departments and agencies can use to improve the visibility and accessibility of their web services and linked data applications. It has been mandated for use by Australian Government agencies.

AGLS is issued by Standards Australia as AS 5044:2010.

The Australian Government Implementation Manual for AGLS Metadata provides practical advice and direction for staff using the AGLS metadata set.


Further tools to assist in implementing AGLS can be found at

AGLS Metadata Standard: Australian Government Implementation Manual

This manual sets out Australian Government requirements for the implementation of the AGLS Metadata Standard and provides practical advice and direction for staff responsible for coordinating agency policy and practice on web-based information and services.


Further tools to assist in implementing AGLS can be found at

An approach to the preservation of digital records

This paper sets out the intellectual framework for the National Archives approach to digital preservation. The framework informed the development of the National Archives digital repository, which processes, stores and manages transfers of digital records.


Archiving Web Resources: Guidelines for Keeping Records of Web-based Activity in the Commonwealth Government

These guidelines will help Australian Government agencies develop good recordkeeping strategies for records of web-based activities.


Archiving Websites: Advice and Policy Statement

This policy statement explains agency requirements under the Administrative Functions Disposal Authority (AFDA) and AFDA Express for retaining and managing websites and website content. This policy statement helps to understand the often difficult task of retaining websites as well as clarifying AFDA and AFDA Express classes that can apply to websites and content and objects found within a website. Websites are Commonwealth records and by adopting this policy statement, agencies should meet their legal obligations for retention and disposal of records under the Archives Act 1983.


Australian Government Recordkeeping Metadata Standard (AGRkMS)

The Australian Government Recordkeeping Metadata Standard version 2.2 describes information about records and the context in which they are captured and used in Australian Government agencies.

Implementation Guidelines

The Australian Government Recordkeeping Metadata Standard Implementation Guidelines will help information management, data management and ICT staff in Australian Government agencies understand and implement the AGRkMS. The Guidelines cover the minimum implementation requirements for compliance with the AGRkMS and provide advice on determining recordkeeping metadata requirements for different kinds of business systems.

Australian Governments' Interactive Functions Thesaurus (AGIFT)

The Australian Governments' Interactive Functions Thesaurus (AGIFT) is a three-level hierarchical thesaurus that describes the business functions carried out across Commonwealth, state and local governments in Australia. It contains 25 high-level functions, each with second and third level terms, as well as non-preferred terms and related terms. A scope note describes the range of activities covered by a preferred term and provides cross-references.

Cloud computing and information management

Cloud computing poses both benefits and risks for Australian Government agencies. Gains in cost and efficiency need to be weighed up against the risks associated with privacy, security and records management.


Commonwealth Records in Evidence

This publication helps Australian Government agencies manage their records in accordance with the Evidence Act 1995 and other relevant legislation and case law.


Developing a Functions Thesaurus: Guidelines for Commonwealth Agencies

These guidelines provide advice on designing, constructing and maintaining a functions thesaurus to assist with classification and other records management processes in an organisation.

For further information about the benefits of classifying by business function and a comparative assessment of different types of classification tools, including a thesaurus, see Overview of Classification Tools for Records Management.

Appendices B and G refer readers to the Australian National Training Authority for information about the recordkeeping competency standards issued as part of the Business Services Training Package (BSB01). This information is now available from Innovation and Business Skills Australia.


Digital preservation: illuminating the past, guiding the future

This brochure summarises the National Archives approach to digital preservation and describes the prototype it has developed and implemented for a digital archive. The prototype includes a hardware infrastructure and a suite of software tools for converting, retrieving and accessing digital records that are based on open file formats.


Digitising accumulated physical records

Digitising accumulated physical records provides advice on a range of issues that should be considered when planning digitisation projects and explores records management and records handling issues that arise for both the source records and the digitised records. These include:

  • exploring the reasons for digitising accumulated paper records
  • identifying factors that need to be considered for different digitisation rationales
  • assisting agencies approach the justification and planning of digitisation projects
  • ensuring the correct technical standards are used for digitisation projects
  • making sure correct decisions are made about the source records after digitisation has occurred

Disaster Preparedness Manual for Commonwealth Agencies

This manual offers a step-by-step process for devising a plan for protecting and recovering records held by Australian Government agencies. It enables agencies to assess the vulnerability of their records to various types of disaster, and to create a plan that can be easily reviewed and updated.


Implementing an EDRMS – Checklist

The electronic document and records management system (EDRMS) checklist covers a range of activities and tasks that project managers and teams in an Australian Government agency should consider when initiating an EDRMS project, selecting an appropriate EDRMS to meet specific business requirements or implementing an EDRMS.

The checklist can also be used in an internal audit program.

Project management tasks are not the focus of this checklist as agencies will have their own preferred project management methodologies.


Implementing an EDRMS – Information for Senior Management

Implementing an EDRMS – Information for Senior Management, can be used to brief senior management to explain what is an EDRMS, what are the benefits and key considerations from a management perspective.

Implementing an EDRMS – Key Considerations

Implementing an EDRMS – Key Considerations, explains what an EDRMS is, what it can and cannot do, and what business benefits it can provide. It highlights key issues that agencies will need to consider to achieve an EDRMS implementation that meets business needs and is accepted by its users.

Implementing an EDRMS – Lessons from agencies

Implementing an EDRMS – Lessons from agencies, highlights the key lessons learnt by a number of Australian Government agencies when implementing an electronic document and records management system (EDRMS). Its purpose is to share the experience and knowledge of these agencies to assist others to plan and undertake a successful EDRMS implementation. In part, the content has been based on interviews with staff involved in EDRMS implementations in a wide range of Australian Government agencies.

Implementing an EDRMS – Geoscience Australia case study

The Geoscience Australia Case Study – upgrading an unreliable EDRMS and strategies to gain user acceptance, highlights a set of strategies that resulted in a successful upgrade of an EDRMS, and shows the importance of:

  • visible CEO commitment
  • a change-over plan to address conversion, migration and integration issues
  • regular updates for key stakeholders
  • a pilot project to test technical capabilities.

Implementing an EDRMS – Department of Parliamentary Services case study

The Department of Parliamentary Services case study - the importance of measuring success, demonstrates the value of undertaking a post-implementation review. It also highlights:

  • a practice 'sandpit' environment
  • a phased approach including a pilot and a proof of concept period
  • an innovative training strategy used for change management.

Introduction to Keyword AAA

Keyword AAA is a thesaurus of general terms designed for use in classifying, titling and indexing most types of records in most technological environments. It covers terminology common to business functions and activities in most organisations. To provide a comprehensive controlled vocabulary, Keyword AAA should be used in conjunction with a thesaurus of functional terms relating to the organisation's specific or core business functions.

The Keyword AAA function and activity terms are used in the Administrative Functions Disposal Authority. Together these two tools can be used to title and sentence administrative records.

Keyword AAA publication notes

Keyword AAA is a product of the State Records Authority of New South Wales. The Commonwealth version of Keyword AAA has minor modifications that reflect the terminology and requirements of the Australian Government. Keyword AAA is available in several formats, including versions for upload into several recordkeeping products.

The National Archives manages a licence enabling Australian Government agencies only to obtain a copy at no charge. Agencies wishing to obtain a copy should download and complete the licence agreement (pdf, 62kb) and print out two copies, one for their records and the other to return to the National Archives.

Government agencies in other jurisdictions should contact State Records NSW at for more information on obtaining Keyword AAA.


Legislation, policies, standards, advice and your agency's accountability

This page lists whole of government sources, including legislation, policies, standards, advice and guidance, that impact on the information and records management responsibilities of most Commonwealth entities.

Legislation, policies, standards, advice and your agency's accountability


Overview of Classification Tools for Records Management

This publication provides advice on developing classification tools to support records management. It introduces tools, including a business classification scheme, a records classification scheme and a functions thesaurus, and discusses their merits and limitations. It also provides advice on developing a business case to acquire a classification tool.


Notification of Records Destroyed

Under Regulation 7 of the Archives Act 1983, when records are destroyed in accordance with the provisions of a records authority, the National Archives of Australia must be notified on form NAS 45, Notification of Records Destroyed, of the records destruction within 30 days of the date of destruction. Guidelines for completion are shown on the reverse side of the form.



This publication helps readers manage the process of identifying the disposal class a record belongs to and applying the disposal action specified in the relevant disposal authority.

Standard for the Physical Storage of Commonwealth Records

The Standard for the Physical Storage of Commonwealth Records specifies optimum requirements for the physical storage of Commonwealth records of archival value, to ensure their long-term preservation. It gives levels and limits for temperature, humidity, pollutants and light. The standard covers all types of archive media including documents, volumes, maps and plans, photographs, microforms and audio-visual material. It gives requirements relating to all aspects of storage: building, storage room, storage furniture and boxes.

The standard represents what we consider 'best practice' for archival storage. As such it can be used as a guideline for anyone wishing to safely store archival materials.


Standard for the storage of archival records (excluding digital records)

The Standard for the storage of archival records (excluding digital records) specifies the requirements for the storage of non-digital records of archival value. It was developed by the National Archives of Australia to ensure the proper management and preservation of non-digital records in the Archives’ custody over time.

This standard is part of a suite of plans and procedures outlined in the National Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Strategy to ensure a nationally consistent approach to disaster management relating to archival records.

What we keep: Principles for selecting the Australian Government’s national archives

The selection principles and associated considerations that underpin the National Archives' decisions when selecting Australian Government information for inclusion in the national archival collection are set out in What we keep: Principles for selecting the Australian Government's national archives.

The Archives selects information that should be retained as national archives using three selection principles. These principles are:

  1. Government authority, action and accountability
  2. Identity, interaction and rights and entitlements
  3. Knowledge and community memory

NOTE: This statement replaces and updates the 2003 publication 'Why records are kept: Directions in Appraisal'

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2016