Identifying and retaining agency core business records relating to the COVID-19 pandemic

Australian Government agencies are undertaking and documenting a variety of activities relating to their unique business functions and administrative responsibilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The retention of the records resulting from these activities will be covered by:

Where an Australian Government agency provides programs or services as part of its core business to support the national response to COVID-19, the relevant core business activities and related records should be covered in the agency’s own records authorities.

For Australian Government agencies that are creating COVID-19 related records as part of their core business activities, it is important that these records are identified and appropriate steps taken to protect them until adequate coverage is identified in, or added to, the relevant agency-specific records authorities. Examples include (but are not limited to) records relating to:

  • COVID-19 relief programs

  • vaccine approvals and roll-out

  • defence and police support provided for lockdown and quarantine operations; and

  • support for contact tracing efforts.

COVID-19 related records may potentially be created by any Australian Government agency while conducting its core business.

The National Archives of Australia recommends that agencies should identify the core business related records they create that are connected with the COVID-19 pandemic and the Australian Government’s response to the pandemic. Many of the COVID-19 related records being created will potentially meet the National Archives’ selection principles and need to be retained as national archives (RNA).

Agencies are advised to review their existing agency-specific records authorities to determine if they provide adequate coverage, including appropriate retention periods, for the agency’s COVID-19 pandemic related core business records. If these records are currently temporary, your agency may need to revise and amend its existing records authority. Please contact the Agency Service Centre if you identify a potential gap in your records authority.

Note: Do not destroy COVID-19 pandemic related core business records if you are uncertain that their retention period is adequate.

The National Archives intends to undertake a review to establish the scope of COVID-19 related records created by the Australian Government in response to the pandemic. Following this review the Archives expects to release further advice on the retention of COVID-19 related records, and will seek to clearly identify those records to be retained as national archives.

Australian Government agencies seeking advice and guidance in relation to the retention of specific COVID-19 related records, are advised to contact the Agency Service Centre.