Friday, November 19, 2010

NSW unable to archive digital information

The NSW Auditor-General has reported to Parliament that the State Records Authority of New South Wales is in breach of its enabling legislation as it is "...unable to archive digital records despite growing reliance on the use of digital records by New South Wales Government agencies". The AG has recommended a government digital archiving solution be established. The AG also notes that the archive will run out of storage space during this financial year (e-records would reduce the space problem).

Help is at hand. The NSW State Records Authority provides a list of courses available on records management. First in the list is my own "Electronic Data Management" COMP7420, being offered at the Australian National University from January 2010. As I am still designing the course, I could include the requirements for the NSW e-Archive as a case study. Several students on my Green ICT course wrote official carbon reduction strategies for their agencies as their assignments. NSW government staff could write the e-archive strategy as their assignment for this course.

It should be noted that there is considerable guidance for implementing an e-arching system in NSW:
  1. M2009-11 Premier's Memoranda: NSW Standard on Digital Recordkeeping
  2. Standard on digital recordkeeping and Short guide to implementing the Standard
  3. M2004-14 Use and Retention of Email for Government Communications
  4. Policy on digital records preservation
  5. Policy on electronic recordkeeping
  6. ICT Attitudes to records and recordkeeping: survey report
  7. Considering digital recordkeeping as part of systems development or procurement (RIB52)
  8. Strategies for documenting Government business: The 'DIRKS' manual
  9. Introducing recordkeeping metadata (RIB 18)
  10. Selecting records management software (RIB 2)
  11. Checklist for assessing business systems (RIB 42)
  12. Managing digital records
  13. Desktop Management: Managing electronic documents and directories (RIB 30)
  14. Destroying digital records: When pressing delete is not enough (RIB 51)
  15. Digital imaging and recordkeeping (RIB 11)
  16. Email and other templates for creating digital records
  17. FAQs - Emails and recordkeeping (RIB 49)
  18. General Retention and Disposal Authority - Source Records That Have Been Migrated (GA 33)
  19. Guidelines on keeping web records
  20. Keeping recruitment records using e-Recruitment (RIB 56)
  21. Managing the message: Guidelines on managing formal and informal communications as records
  22. Records management and web 2.0
  23. Archives Advice: Protecting and handling magnetic media (NAA)
  24. Archives Advice: Protecting and handling optical disks (NAA)
  25. Digital records preservation in the NSW public sector: A discussion paper
  26. Australasian Digital Recordkeeping Initiative (ADRI) website
  27. Digital Records Advisory Group

Ministerial Memorandum 2009-11 ‘Standard on Digital Recordkeeping’ acknowledged the increasing reliance upon digital records by New South Wales public sector agencies. The Memorandum also noted the benefits of a standardised approach to digital record keeping.

The Authority’s ‘Future Proof’ strategy aims to help government agencies manage digital records. A key aspect of the strategy is to implement a digital archiving facility for New South Wales government. Currently, the Authority declines digital records that an agency wishes to transfer for archiving because it does not have the infrastructure to access the information in the record.

The Crown Solicitor has advised that if the Authority holds public records that are not accessible, the Authority is in breach of its enabling legislation. Notwithstanding its current policy of declining records, the Authority holds some inaccessible records and is in breach.

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