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For the Record September 2008

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ISSN 1321-6260 September 2008 • Number 70

New Standard on digital recordkeeping | New General Retention and Disposal Authority for Source records that have been migrated | Destruction of paper/hard copy records | Report on 2008 Records Storage and Disposal Survey | Disposal Implementation Plans | Post-implementation review of General Retention and Disposal Authority Administrative records (GA28) | New disposal authorities approved


For The Record

Managing records in the New South Wales Public Sector

ISSN 1321-6260
September 2008 • Number 70

New Standard on digital recordkeeping

The Standard on digital recordkeeping, which was approved by State Records' Board on August 28, sets out minimum compliance requirements for NSW public offices for digital recordkeeping system functionality and the creation and management of recordkeeping metadata for digital records. By meeting the requirements of the Standard, public offices can maximise the business benefits that can be derived from effective management of digital information, and minimise the risks associated with poor recordkeeping in the digital business environment.

The Standard has been developed to align with common standards currently being implemented in Australasian government jurisdictions, and to fit with NSW Government policy on Information Asset Management Systems (IAMS). The Standard is also a key component of State Records' broader strategy to improve digital recordkeeping in the NSW public sector, Future Proof.

This Standard replaces two existing records management standards: the Standard on Recordkeeping in the Electronic Business Environment (2000) and the New South Wales Recordkeeping Metadata Standard, Part 1 (2001). The New South Wales Recordkeeping Metadata Standard, Part 2: Technical Specification will not be withdrawn but will be revised to conform with the forthcoming Australasian standard for recordkeeping metadata.

In keeping with the usual practice, there has been a consultation process for this Standard, seeking comments and endorsement. A Table of commentary documenting this consultation is provided with the standard.

Complying with the standard

A compliance timetable has been prepared which focuses on new systems and on existing systems supporting high risk government business. This is a commonsense approach designed to target those areas where inadequate recordkeeping could lead to business breakdown, additional costs or embarrassment to government, while not placing an unduly heavy burden on public offices.

Guidance available

Guidance for public offices on implementing the standard is available in the form of:

  • an Appendix to the Standard linking each of the requirements to further information to assist in implementation
  • the revised NSW Recordkeeping Metadata Technical Specification, due in early 2009
  • Principles and functional requirements for records in electronic office environments, developed by the Australasian Digital Recordkeeping Initiative (ADRI), of which State Records is a member (available at:
  • guidelines on keeping sustainable digital records, due in the second half of 2008, and
  • the new 'Future Proof' website and blog, which offers an interactive place for public offices to share digital recordkeeping implementation tips and advice (go to ).

For more information about the standard or the Future Proof strategy contact Cassie Findlay at or on (02) 8247 8629.

New General Retention and Disposal Authority for Source records that have been migrated

The General Retention and Disposal Authority for Source records that have been migrated (GA 33) is now available for use. This Authority has been developed to help you design and manage your record migration projects so that they produce authentic and reliable records. It then provides you with the authorisation to destroy the source records that remain following your successful migration.

Amongst its conditions, the authority requires that all migrations are planned, documented and managed and that pre and post migration testing proves the success of your migration. Importantly the authority also requires that source records, the records that serve as input to the migration process, are kept for at least six months following migration to allow the migration to be repeated if any problems or concerns arise. 

State Records is currently developing guidelines on preserving digital records. These will contain further guidance about migration and will provide additional support for agencies undertaking migration projects. It is anticipated that these guidelines will be available in October 2008.

Destruction of paper/hard copy records

When disposing of records, it is important that appropriate destruction methods are employed. Burying of whole records or dumping of records at the local tip are unsound, inappropriate and risky disposal practices, as paper can take a long time to break down and is at risk of being uncovered by others. If records are not totally destroyed, the organisation risks the unauthorised release of sensitive and confidential information.

There are a number of key points to consider in the disposal and destruction of records:

Destruction should be This means
authorised both by State Records and by appropriate internal staff of the organisation
appropriate irreversible with no reasonable risk of the records being recovered
secure and confidential records should be disposed of with the same level of security that they were maintained under (ie s12 of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998, states that sensitive personal information should be securely disposed of to safeguard against loss, unauthorised access, use or disclosure).
timely records should not be disposed of while still in use, required for legal purposes, or before the expiry of the minimum required retention periods, and they should not be kept for longer than they are needed
documented appropriate destruction documentation should be created and kept in case proof of destruction is needed for legal proceedings or in response to Freedom of Information requests or other access requests.

Where possible, destruction of records should be done in an environmentally friendly manner - paper and microforms should be recycled if possible. Practical destruction methods include:

  • the use of a contractor with proper destruction and recycling facilities. NSW public sector organisations may use the State Procurement Contract 6083 - Secure Destruction Services (available from
  • if your organisation has access to appropriate equipment, records may be shredded or mulched in-house and the paper can then be recycled.

For further information on destruction see Guideline 3 - Destruction of records: A practical guide, and for information on appropriate disposal authorisation processes see the Standard on the appraisal and disposal of State records.

For information on destroying digital records, see Recordkeeping in Brief 51 - Destroying digital records: When pressing delete is not enough.

Report on 2008 Records Storage and Disposal Survey

In early 2008 State Records conducted an online survey with 166 NSW Government agencies and State Owned Corporations. The survey sought to identify the nature of arrangements and the cost of storing non-current paper records, and the level of implementation of records retention and disposal authorities. In addition, the survey sought to obtain information from those Government agencies without a comprehensive records retention and disposal authority on their timing and plans for this work.

View the Report of the 2008 Records Storage and Disposal Survey.

For more information contact Catherine Robinson at or (02) 8247 8631.

Disposal Implementation Plans

The recent storage and disposal survey revealed the low level of implementation of disposal authorities across agencies and State Owned Corporations. To address this issue, from 1 October 2008, all NSW Government agencies and State Owned Corporations submitting draft functional retention and disposal authorities for approval will need to submit a disposal implementation plan which will advise State Records of the agency's plans for:

  • implementing the new functional retention and disposal authority (and other general disposal authorities) with current and future records
  • transferring State archives, and
  • reducing accumulations of unsentenced records in storage.

The disposal implementation plan template will be available from the State Records' website soon.

For more information contact Catherine Robinson at or (02) 8247 8631.

Post-implementation review of General Retention and Disposal Authority Administrative records (GA28)

It is now more than 12 months since the new General Retention and Disposal Authority - Administrative records (GA28) was approved and issued for use. State Records is undertaking a post-implementation review of GA28 and is seeking feedback from users of the authority.

In particular we are interested in receiving comments about:

  • potential gaps in coverage of records under existing functions and activities, or
  • how we could improve disposal class descriptions to make it easier for users to understand and implement the authority, such as suggestions for examples of the types of records that are covered by particular classes.

Please note that we will not be making changes to the structure of the authority or to any of the disposal actions or retention periods. This review is simply to identify any possible gaps in coverage or additions to disposal class descriptions which would make GA28 easier to use.

Please send all suggestions and recommendations to Emma Harris, Project Officer, Government Recordkeeping at

The deadline for comments is Friday, 10th October 2008.

New disposal authorities approved

State Records recently approved a functional retention and disposal authority for the Office of Transport Safety Investigations, and general retention and disposal authorities for sporting and recreational venues, and source records that have been migrated.

PDF copies of current functional retention and disposal authorities approved for use by State Records since 1999 are available from the Disposing of records link from the recordkeeping part of our website. The list is arranged alphabetically by department/organisation.

If you wish to obtain copies of disposal recommendations authorised prior to 1999, or authorities listed where no PDF has been provided, please contact us at or telephone (02) 8247 8627.

© State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority, 2008.
First published September 2008
This work may be freely reproduced and distributed for most purposes, however some restrictions apply. See our copyright notice or contact us.
ISSN 1321-6260