Corporate Plan 2018–19 to 2021–22

Message from the Director-General

In this era of information abundance, Australian society is at a critical juncture. New opportunities for advancement are emerging on the back of developments around big data, artificial intelligence and the 'Internet of Things'. Equally however, we must confront the trends that may erode our national prospects – such as cyber threats, the influence of 'fake news', and a failing trust in public institutions. At this critical juncture, the role that the National Archives of Australia plays in the integrity and accessibility of government information has never been more important.

The Archives understands that government information, as evidence and as documentary heritage, is an essential foundation for the future cultural identity and prosperity of our nation. It is a national resource for knowledge creation and sharing that underpins the accountability, transparency and integrity of our system of democracy and government.

As the lead agency for setting standards, guidelines and practices for information governance and records management, the National Archives is embracing the opportunities of this digital change. It is implementing transformative strategies: strengthening information governance and cyber-security; prioritising digital preservation of at-risk records; improving business processes and service delivery across government; and providing new ways for the community to connect with government information and cultural heritage.

We will continue to work closely with agencies on the implementation of the Information Management Standard, launched in 2017, and the Digital Continuity 2020 (DC2020) Policy. These two instruments provide simple and clear principles and implementation pathways to assist the digital transformation of agencies – towards a digital 'business as usual'. The National Archives will work with key information and policy agencies to define the post DC2020 policy settings.

We have established a Senior Executive led Digital Archives Taskforce (DAT) that will define the processes, skills and tools that will equip us for a digital future, and provide the requirements that shape our strategies for the ongoing development of our human capital and technical infrastructure. Following the ISO standard Open Archival Information System reference model, this includes the design and establishment of a new Digital Archive, digital preservation capability and access platform. A new digital literacy program will equip our staff with the contemporary skills and competencies to work with digital tools and resources to deliver new services to the Australian Government and the general public.

The Archives' preservation and digitisation strategies will ensure we preserve and protect records, as well as effectively prioritising the digitisation of at-risk records and high-use information, including audiovisual collections susceptible to obsolescence or deterioration.

All of our efforts will continue to be driven by our primary purpose: providing access. We will implement new strategic and innovative public programs and services, including a digitally focused reference service through the implementation of our National Reference Services Strategy. A new online web presence will provide new ways to access the collection, education and other collaborative resources – regardless of where our users live across the country or around the world.

Our existing priorities, operations, governance and policy framework will be regularly reviewed to ensure that the way we work and deliver our services is efficient, effective and ethical, particularly within a continuing tight financial environment.

It is with pleasure that I, as the accountable authority for the National Archives of Australia, present the Archives' 2018–19 Corporate Plan, which covers the period of four years, as required under paragraph 35(1)(b) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

Signature of David Fricker Director-General National Archives of Australia from 2012

David Fricker


Our purpose

The Archives was established under the Archives Act 1983 (the Act). As an executive agency of the Australian Government, the Archives provides leadership in best-practice management of the official record of the Australian Government and ensures that Australian Government information of enduring significance is secured, preserved and available to government agencies, researchers and the community.

The Archives:

  • sets the information management standards that must be met by Australian Government agencies
  • authorises the appropriate destruction of Australian Government information of no enduring significance
  • manages Australian Government information of enduring significance as part of the national archival collection
  • preserves and secures the national archival collection
  • ensures that public access to the national archival collection is provided in accordance with the Act to the fullest extent, while taking proper account of privacy, security, confidentiality and public interest.

Our vision

To be a world leading archive in this digital age

Our mission

To connect Australians with their identity and history through our stewardship of Australian Government records

Our values

Service excellence – deliver quality and responsive services that meet the needs and expectations of our clients and partners.

Leadership – strive to be national and international leaders in information management policy, digital transformation, archival collection management and creative public engagement.

Innovation – look for new and better ways to do business and deliver digital services that are user-centred and embrace the future.

Responsibility – take responsibility for delivering the goals and priorities comprising a transformational program of work.

Collaboration – work with the public, private and civil society sectors to achieve shared goals and outcomes.

Our delivery strategies

For the 2018–19 to 2021–22 period the Archives has three strategies to deliver its purpose and achieve its vision:

  1. Establish frameworks for best-practice management of Australian Government information and data by Australian Government agencies toward achievement of the Digital Continuity Policy targets.
  2. Secure and preserve Australian Government information and data of enduring national significance for the national archival collection.
  3. Connect researchers and the community to the national archival collection and enhance understanding of the role of the Archives.

Strategy 1

Establish frameworks for best practice management of Australian Government information and data by Australian Government agencies toward achievement of Digital Continuity 2020 Policy targets


  • Develop standards, policies, guidance, information and services to assist agencies adopt good information and records management practices and implement the Digital Continuity 2020 (DC2020) Policy and targets
  • Survey entities and report on transition to digital information management
  • Report to the Minister and Prime Minister outlining agencies' progress towards digital transition, the support provided, and additional support needed, by the Archives to further drive improvement

Performance criterion

Australian Government agencies are surveyed against DC2020 Policy targets and outcomes reported to the Prime Minister and the Minister.


1. Percentage of agencies completing survey

2018–19 2019–20 2020–21 2021–22
≥ 96% ≥ 97% ≥ 98% ≥ 99%

2. Qualitative evaluation of progress towards DC2020 outcomes

2018–19 2019–20 2020–21 2021–22
Survey responses and case studies Survey responses and case studies Survey responses and case studies DC2020 Policy implementation complete

Reporting methodology

  • The survey implementation strategy is to include analysis of the Australian Government agencies invited to complete survey.
  • The survey tool tracks the number of agencies invited and number of agencies to submit a completed survey.
  • Relevant business area analyses current and previous survey results to:
    • report agency-specific results to each agency head
    • report current status and trends against DC2020 policy targets to the Minister and when scheduled to the Prime Minister.

Strategy 2

Secure and preserve Australian Government information of enduring national significance for the national archival collection


  • Work with agencies to identify and authorise classes of records / categories of information to be retained, destroyed or transferred, because of their enduring national significance, to the National Archives' collection
  • Plan and manage the efficient transfer of information and records from agencies
  • Preserve and protect records in accordance with the National Preservation Strategy and Plan
  • Digitise the collection with particular emphasis on at-risk and high-use information and in accordance with the National Digitisation Strategy and Plan
  • Establish the Digital Archives Program as a body of work undertaken across the Archives that will embed digital archiving capability, accelerate the development of digital skills and processes, and upgrade preservation technologies in the Archives

Performance criterion

Records of enduring national significance are identified and transferred into the national archival collection for safekeeping.


1. Percentage of Australian Government entities with comprehensive records authority coverage

2018–19 2019–20 2020–21 2021–22
≥ 75% ≥ 80% ≥ 85% ≥ 90%

2. Qualitative evaluation of records of enduring national significance transferred for safekeeping in the national archival collection

2018–19 2019–20 2020–21 2021–22
Case studies and program outcomes Case studies and program outcomes Case studies and program outcomes Case studies and program outcomes

Reporting methodology

  • The status of records authority projects and engagement with agencies is updated weekly though internal Commonwealth Information Policy reporting.
  • A standing item is reported to the National Archives of Australia Advisory Council.
  • The relevant business area analyses transfers quarterly, with the analysis of transfers identifying up to two case studies for inclusion in the annual performance statement.
  • Quarterly reporting identifies progress against preservation and digitisation plans.
  • Monthly reports go to the steering group on progress in implementing the Digital Archives Program.
  • The relevant business area identifies up to two programs for inclusion in the annual performance statement.

Strategy 3

Connect researchers and the community to the national archival collection and enhance understanding of the role of the Archives


  • Deliver and promote strategic and innovative public programs and services through education and outreach programs, exhibitions, publications and promotional events
  • Broaden and strengthen the Archives' capacity to engage with, and meet the needs of, Indigenous Australians
  • Describe the national archival collection to facilitate access
  • Implement the National Reference Service Strategy with a digital delivery focus
  • Develop partnerships with external organisations to expand national and international reach and use of the collection

Performance criterion

The national archival collection is accessible and promoted, and made available through multiple channels regardless of original format.


1. Percentage increase in public engagement with the Archives

2018–19 2019–20 2020–21 2021–22
3% 3% 3% 3%

2. Qualitative evaluation of the accessibility and level of engagement with the national archival collection

2018–19 2019–20 2020–21 2021–22
Case studies demonstrating channels used and cooperation with other stakeholders Case studies demonstrating channels used and cooperation with other stakeholders Case studies demonstrating channels used and cooperation with other stakeholders Case studies demonstrating channels used and cooperation with other stakeholders

Reporting methodology

  • RecordSearch reports are used to show change over time.
  • Reports and statistical data for nominated channels and services are combined to provide an agreed aggregate measure of citizen engagement.
  • Quarterly reporting identifies initiatives and achievements.
  • The relevant business area identifies up to two initiatives for inclusion in the annual performance statement.


The Archives is a unique national institution, holding the most significant records of the Australian Government, accumulated since Federation. These records constitute the essential evidence of the activities and decisions of the Australian Government.

The Archives is not only a collecting and cultural institution. It is:

  • a lead agency in the Australian Government's digital transformation agenda
  • the authoritative source for evidence of the activities and decisions of the Australian Government since Federation
  • a premier research facility supporting family, local, historical and academic research
  • a world leader in terms of its access regime, with an onus on release and adopting and advocating digital information preservation and management
  • a leader in the global archival community
  • a sectoral leader in public engagement and outreach.

The environment of constrained resources continues to impact the Archives' service delivery capacity. At the same time, public expectations of Archives' services increase as rapidly evolving digital technologies provide new and faster ways of accessing information. The Archives is responding by actively pursuing innovative strategies to maintain viability and relevance through its Digital Archives Program.

The Archives provides access to archival records through a variety of means: in reading rooms; online from anywhere, anytime; and through exhibitions and other education and public engagement programs. At all times the Archives ensures that sensitive government information is appropriately safeguarded. Significant projects that will maintain the Archives' viability and relevance include the redevelopment of its website, galleries and public areas within its National Office located in East Block on Queen Victoria Terrace, Canberra.

Within a diminishing budget, the Archives is committed to retaining a presence in all states and territories to ensure the public and agencies regionally can continue to access records in a range of formats. To retain a state and territory footprint within budget, the Archives has relocated records in low demand to its major repositories in Sydney and Canberra: accessible online if digitised or in the reading rooms of these offices. The Archives will ensure that any new property lease arrangements are value for money while providing appropriate storage and visitor engagement opportunities for the collection.

The Archives continues to put effective digital management at the forefront of activities in order to manage the volume and vulnerability of digital information. 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. As a key participant in the government's digital transformation agenda, the Archives provides direction and practical guidance to Commonwealth agencies in the preservation and digital management of their information. By participating in the Open Government Partnership National Action Plan, the Archives promotes open data and digital transformation. In keeping with government direction to reduce red tape and drive efficiencies, the Archives works with other government entities to develop whole-of-government information management policies and practices, to protect and preserve Commonwealth records and enable streamlined, efficient delivery of government services and programs.

From 1 July 2018, the Archives established the foundations of the Digital Archives Program to accelerate the Archives' own digital transformation. The program will provide an overarching framework for projects led by all branches of the Archives to deliver technological upgrades and transform the Archives' workforce, systems and processes to be fit for a world-leading archive in the digital age. A Digital Archives Taskforce will work within a charter to coordinate and facilitate the work of the Digital Archives Program.


The Archives' capability is a combination of its processes, systems, people, culture and knowledge. To achieve its priorities the Archives recognises the importance of strong organisational capabilities and is focused on continual growth and development.

The Digital Archives Taskforce will work across a range of domains including the establishment of digital standards, policies, processes and staffing skills that Australia needs in order to retain its memory and maintain accountability to its citizens into the future. The taskforce, in partnership with the Archives' Chief Information Officer, will also procure new, secure, state-of-the-art digital preservation, archival management and access solutions, and enabling services to ensure that the Archives protects the authenticity and integrity of digital government information.

The Archives will safeguard the evidence of government decisions and actions by preserving nationally significant information indefinitely, and avoid the loss of critical and sensitive information to cyber threats. In addition to its management of analogue records, a core capability of the Archives will be its secure scalable storage and digital information processing power. Other capabilities will include robust processes for the transfer, ingest and metadata management of digital information and the ongoing migration of information into contemporary formats for preservation and access purposes. The Digital Archives Program will completely redesign and automate time-consuming, complex processes.

Agencies hold a high volume of vulnerable digital information necessitating its effective management. Good information governance during record creation ensures this valuable information is discoverable, accessible and usable and not lost to technical obsolescence. At the heart of the Archives' DC2020 Policy is the recognition that it is only when digital information is managed well that the government can share it effectively with the Australian community to the benefit of society and the economy. Work will be undertaken, in concert with other key central agencies, to develop a new whole-of-government policy which will support agencies to meet the demands of the rapid evolution of the digital environment.

To better support the work of both the Digital Archives Taskforce and the Archives' digital transformation, the Archives needs to develop training and skills pathways for the transformation of the workforce's digital literacy. A broad digital literacy project, which will encompass digital archiving, will be pivotal in equipping Archives' staff to build their overall digital capabilities and literacy.

The Archives will continue to develop its capability, reflecting available resourcing and aligning to support the Archives' digital transition agenda. This will require support for mobility of skills and resources and proactive management of cultural change and skills development. With this in mind, the Archives continues to invest heavily in employee learning and development in both programs and access to training, specifically designed to raise levels of capability and to equip staff. The corporate learning and development calendar provides staff with a wide range of individual courses and seminars over the year. All training and development is aligned with the requirements identified through individual work plan discussions or targeted to develop skills and capabilities identified within the expertise development or capability frameworks.

To help build the leadership capability, resilience, engagement and collaboration required by the Archives workforce, the Archives has implemented a simple yet powerful cultural action plan, The Archives Way, to provide a foundation for cultural change and help guide behaviour, communication, and decision making as we prepare the Archives for digital transformation. The Archives will ensure The Archives Way is being role modelled from the highest levels of the organisation so that its values are embraced in everyday work. Through implementation of The Archives Way, the Archives will become more collaborative and innovative in its approach to information knowledge management.

Risk oversight and management

The Commonwealth Risk Management Policy informs risk management in the Archives. The Archives uses the annual Comcover Risk Management Benchmarking Survey to assess its risk culture against the entire group of entities that participate in the survey, a smaller set of similar entities and the Archives' previous performance. The Archives also tests whether the current and target levels of risk maturity are appropriate for the Archives' operating environment.

The Archives supports a positive risk culture and is implementing a body of work to improve the understanding and engagement with risk across the entity. A positive risk culture at the Archives will be demonstrated by the systematic embedding of risk management into business processes, and by effective identification, communication and sharing of risks across business areas. The Archives recognises that the factors that generate risks can also create opportunities for delivering positive results, particularly in the context of the pace and complexity of change in the digital environment.

Risk management at the Archives is informed and supported by a framework of policy, guidelines, training and tools. The framework provides a control structure to identify, monitor, respond to and mitigate the entire risk spectrum to which the Archives is exposed. The framework includes specific strategic, operational and business continuity risks.

The Archives' risk appetite establishes the amount of risk the Archives is willing to accept in order to achieve its objectives. The Archives has a moderate to high-risk appetite for projects and activities which present opportunities for better outcomes. It also recognises that, in a changing environment, risks can emerge and evolve, requiring continuous identification, monitoring and management.

The Archives highlights a set of strategic risks that are managed through business planning. Strategic risks and mitigation strategies are regularly reviewed and reported through project boards to the Executive Board and the Archives' Audit and Risk Committee.

The Archives' current strategic risks are shown in the table below.

Purpose Risks
Case studies demonstrating channels used and cooperation with other stakeholders
  • Major damage to or loss of information and data in the collection, or failure of digital data preservation systems, storage and online web facility
  • Inability to transition to a digital environment with the capacity and capability to ingest, control, preserve, store, and provide access to digital information
  • Failure to impose records creation requirements and the minimum standards for digital government records
  • Failure to identify and secure the archival resources of the Commonwealth
  • The Archives does not meet expectations of government or community
  • Inability to meet community expectations for access to records, particularly on digital platforms
  • Inadvertent or deliberate release of sensitive information
  • The Archives suffers damage from a major cyber security attack