- operational needs
- stakeholder needs including rights and entitlements
- legislative and regulatory obligations
- community needs, including the need to have access to valuable Australian Government information for research and reuse.
Under the Archives Act 1983 agencies need the permission of the Archives before:
- destroying valuable business information
- transferring custody or ownership of business information outside of the Australian Government
- transferring care of archival value Australian Government business information to the Archives.
This permission is provided in the form of records authorities. The Archives determines which Australian Government information will be transferred to the Archives as part of the national archives' collection.
Knowing the reasons why you keep business information is important in order to meet business and regulatory requirements as well as community needs. In order to identify these reasons you need to analyse how, and within what context, your business operates. This includes the need to retain business information to:
- support daily and ongoing operational needs and mitigate risk associated with business operations.
- comply with the requirements of agency-specific legislation, regulations or codes of practice. This is particularly important for businesses which may be highly regulated or scrutinised and subject to audits, appeals or legal action.
- meet the needs of a variety of internal and external stakeholders. This includes the needs of clients to have evidence of their rights and entitlements, the Australian Government’s need to be able to account to the public and the needs of the general community to have access to the national archives of the Australian Government for research purposes.
The National Archives has provided advice on the material we select for permanent retention in What we keep: Principles for selecting the Australian Government’s national archives.
The Archives provides permission to agencies to keep, destroy or transfer business information by issuing records authorities under section 24 of the Archives Act 1983. Records authorities are developed in collaboration with agencies based on their analysis and documentation of how long business information needs to be kept.
Agencies require the permission of the Archives to transfer business information:
- to the Archives, if it has been selected to be retained as national archives
- when there is a transfer of ownership outside of the Australian Government.
As agency business may change over time, records authorities should be reviewed periodically to ensure new business or any changes to how long business information should be kept is covered.