Information management for current, emerging and critical technologies

Your agency must manage its records in accordance with the Archives Act 1983. This includes information assets relating to, and produced by, current, emerging and critical technologies.

What are current, emerging and critical technologies?

Current technologies include those available to use in your current operating environment.

Emerging technologies are those which may be adopted, often replacing and disrupting use of current technologies.

Critical technologies are current and emerging technologies that have the capacity to significantly enhance or pose risk to our national interest.

Types of current, emerging and critical technologies

Current, emerging and critical technologies comprise hardware, software, equipment, systems, infrastructure, processes and communications.

Examples of such technologies include:

  • quantum computing and quantum sensing
  • blockchain
  • virtual and augmented reality
  • robotics
  • artificial intelligence (AI)
  • machine learning
  • 5G and 6G communications
  • cybersecurity
  • the internet of things.

How do agencies use these technologies?

Australian Government agencies use current, emerging and critical technologies for a vast array of purposes, activities and transactions.

Current, emerging and critical technologies are part of activities that involve:

  • advanced materials and manufacturing
  • systems, processes, devices and techniques in AI, computing and communications
  • tools, research, techniques and processes in biotechnology, gene technology and the production of vaccines
  • quantum cryptography, computing and sensors
  • hypersonic transportation, robotics and space launch systems
  • the production, storage and use of energy
  • protection of the environment
  • systems or devices applied in magnetic field sensors for: navigation; threat detection; timekeeping for atomic clocks; and high-precision inertial navigation systems.

Agencies may research, develop, produce or procure current, emerging and critical technologies. They may work in partnership with other agencies, state, federal and local government authorities, trusted foreign governments or the private sector.

Your obligations under the Archives Act

The Archives Act is technology and format neutral. It sets out standards for recordkeeping and information management and outlines agencies’ recordkeeping and information management obligations. These standards and obligations apply to all Commonwealth records regardless of the type of technology used to create them.

Commonwealth records include agency records that document the research, development, use and management of current, emerging and critical technologies.

Current, emerging and critical technologies also produce information assets that should be included in your agency’s information governance framework and information management principles. Your agency should assign clear roles and responsibilities for managing high-value and critical assets.

Help and advice

Contact us for advice about managing information assets including proprietary software, hardware and third-party intellectual property.

We offer the following resources to help your agency manage its information assets, including those relating to, and produced by, current, emerging and critical technologies:

Managing information assets

The Building trust in the public record policy outlines requirements for good information management to ensure information assets are trusted for current and future uses by government and community.

Establishing an information governance framework

An information governance framework sets out an overarching approach to the governance of all your agency’s information assets.

Designing and maintaining an information asset register

An information asset register can help your agency identify and control information assets with business value.

Keeping, destroying and transferring records

Records authorities are legal instruments which allow your agency to make decisions about keeping, destroying or transferring Australian Government records.

Our advice on transferring records to the National Archives helps your agency select eligible records and prepare them for care of the National Archives.

Our advice on compliant destruction outlines how the destruction of information assets which are no longer required can be authorised, thorough and accountable.

Storing information

Storing and preserving information properly will help to ensure information assets have integrity, accessibility and usability for as long as needed.

Useful resources

The Australian Government’s Blueprint for critical technologies can help your agency identify and assess current and emerging critical technologies.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Automated decision-making better practice guide is a practical tool to help your agency design and implement automated systems. Note that the guide does not specifically mention recordkeeping and disposal in relation to the Archives Act.

The NSW Ombudsman's report The new machinery of government: using machine technology in administrative decision-making comments on the appropriate design of machine technologies for public sector decision-making or administration.

The Digital Transformation Agency's Blockchain overview offers advice for your agency to consider if looking to adopt this emerging technology. You may also need to consider information management requirements if looking to adopt blockchain technologies.