Evaluation of Agency Implementation – DC2020 Policy

The National Archives of Australia issued the Digital Continuity 2020 (DC2020) policy in 2015 with the aim for policy objectives to be implemented by December 2020. Under the policy, agencies were to integrate robust digital information management into all government business processes to support digital transformation, efficiency, innovation, information re-use and accountability.

At the cessation of the policy, the National Archives commissioned an evaluation of agency implementation of the Digital Continuity 2020 (DC2020) Policy objectives. Primarily this was undertaken through the data collected from the Check-up surveys.

The 2021 survey provides a gauge of the state of information and data management in Australian Government agencies and the progress made under DC2020 policy. A summary is provided below and the full DC2020 Policy Report (DOCX 4MB) details agency progress and highlights achievements over the period 2015 to 2020 and areas for improvement in information management practices across the Australian Government.

Evaluation summary

The survey data reveals progress towards achieving the Digital Continuity 2020 Policy objectives with a range of improvements observed across all principles, as highlighted by:

  • Principle 1 – Information is valued: senior management support digital information management as a business priority (88%, up from 77% in 2019), staff meet their digital information management roles and responsibilities (66%, up from 54% in 2019).
  • Principle 2 – Information is managed digitally: work digitally by default (92%, up from 81% in 2019), continually identify and remove paper from internal and external processes to improve efficiency (79%, up from 71% in 2019).
  • Principle 3 – Information, systems and processes are interoperable: ensure new or updated business systems and services have the capacity to manage information in place for its whole life (51%, up from 45% in 2019).

Across the six individual maturity areas, digital operations continued to record the highest maturity level (4.22), followed by information creation (3.89), storage (3.60) and interoperability (3.30). These areas also saw the largest increases in index score results between 2019 and 2020. Dimensions with lower maturity levels including information governance (3.15) and disposal (2.90) recorded smaller increases in 2020.

The survey results reflect considerable progress towards the implementation of better practice information and data management by the majority of agencies. In 2020, 92% of agencies have achieved at least an 'adequate' overall score, compared with 55% in 2014.

Despite this progress, the survey also highlights that there is still a considerable number of agencies that are yet to consistently implement key information governance principles and practices. Only 6% of agencies recorded the highest overall information maturity level of 5. This result indicates a current risk to the authenticity, accuracy and findability of Australian Government records across the majority of Australian Government agencies. 13 agencies (8%) recorded an 'inadequate' overall information maturity, these agencies have inadequate information management maturity to effectively and efficiently implement government business processes to support digital transformation, innovation, data sharing and accountability.

The data also reveals a sharp increase in the proportion of agencies that report managing information digitally by default from 30% in 2010 to 92% in 2020. This has contributed to and coincided with a rapid increase in the volume of digital information and data being created and managed by Australian Government agencies. The volume of digital information and data held by agencies recorded an average growth of over 180% per year between 2010 and 2020. Additionally. almost three quarters of all Australian Government digital records are being kept in uncontrolled environments. This highlights the challenges and risks faced by agencies in managing the rapid growth in digital information and data volumes.

A majority of agencies also reported under-performance in their capacity to manage the records of archival value within their custody. The 2021 survey data reveals that 53% of agencies do not ensure digital repositories have the appropriate functionality to preserve information according to its value, and only 36% of agencies ensure their Retain as National Archive information assets have been appropriately identified.