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Recordkeeping In Brief 45 - Sample records management policy, procedures, leaflets and templates for local government Councillors

One way councillors can be informed of their responsibilities is through the issue of policy and procedures. State Records NSW has created a 'Sample records management policy and procedures for councillors' that can be modified by councils to suit their needs.

Are Councillors' records State records?

A State record is 'any record made and kept or received and kept, by any person in the course of the exercise of official functions in a public office, or for any purpose of a public office, or for the use of a public office' (section 3(1) State Records Act 1998).

A council is identified as a public office under section 3(1) of the Act. Councillors are subject to the Act when they create or receive 'State records' while undertaking business on council's behalf. They are not subject to the Act when conducting personal business or business that is unrelated to their role as councillors.

Why establish policy/procedures for Councillors?

Local government councillors come to council with an understanding of the major issues in their community, and the knowledge, experience and commitment to provide strong leadership and good governance of the council. If they have not come from a government environment, however, they may not have a knowledge or understanding of the responsibilities for recordkeeping and the regulatory and best practice requirements they are expected to meet when undertaking duties on behalf of council.

Councils need to provide an educative role to ensure councillors understand and meet their recordkeeping responsibilities, both to facilitate the efficient conduct of Council business and to ensure that decisions and actions are transparent and accountable.

Is there a compliance requirement to create policy/procedures for Councillors?

No: There is a compliance requirement in the Standard on Records Management Programs, issued under the State Records Act for councils to have a general Records management policy covering all employees and other parties who create State records on council's behalf. However there is no compliance requirement to have a policy/procedures document specifically for councillors. The sample/policy procedures is a tool that may be useful for those councils who wish to draw together advice for councillors (a one-stop-shop) rather than expecting them to refer to a number of different council documents.

What is in the sample policy/procedures?

As its name suggests, the Sample records management policy and procedures for councillors has drawn together records management policy and procedural information that councillors will need to know in the course of their term/s on council. This includes information such as how to:

  • determine what is a State record
  • create and capture records
  • obtain access to records of council
  • borrow records of council
  • handle and store records
  • dispose of records.

Council registration processes, security and confidentiality issues, and responsibilities regarding unauthorised access or disclosure of information are also addressed, and regulatory and other requirements for recordkeeping are listed.

How should the sample policy/procedures be modified?

Council policy and procedures on these issues can vary considerably depending on traditional practices, technology available, corporate culture etc. Therefore the sample policy/procedures provide a framework only, and the specific practices of a particular council need to be added by council staff.

Boxed examples have been provided in this document to show the types of practices that some councils have adopted. These should be replaced by the actual practices of each council when the document is modified.

In addition, policy and procedures should conform to the needs and standards of the particular council, so the format and structure of the sample policy/procedure may need to be modified to conform to internal requirements.

What are the templates for?

The sample policy/procedures refers to, and is accompanied by, a number of templates that have been specifically developed for councillors. These include an:

  • Electronic letter template
  • Electronic memo template
  • Letter template
  • File note template
  • Meeting note template
  • Fax template.

Councils can adapt these to their own corporate style and needs and may provide them to councillors if they wish. The templates can save councillors time, and provide a standard structure, with prompts to ensure that relevant content and context is included.

What are the leaflets for?

State Records has created a new version of the popular leaflet What have records got to do with me?,customised for councillors. This provides a quick summary of why records are important, councillors' recordkeeping responsibilities and ways they might be addressed. The sample policy/procedure expands on the issues raised.

The Recordkeeping Reminders leaflet, which outlines some common situations where public officials in NSW should make and file records, is also equally applicable to councillors.

How can I obtain access to the sample policy/procedures

Sample policy/procedures

Leaflets

Printed versions of the leaflets are available in small quantities from State Records. See our publications catalogue for details. The leaflets can also be downloaded in PDF and HTML by clicking on the following links:

Sample templates

Councils can download the following Word documents, modify them for councillors needs and save them as templates:

If Internet access is not readily available, State Records can provide all of the above documents on disk to councils on request.

Is training available?

Council staff attending State Records' training course Implementing a Retention and Disposal Authority for Local Government Records will be alerted to councillors' recordkeeping responsibilities and the sample policy/procedures will be discussed. The Local Government Association of NSW and Shires Association of NSW also provide training for councillors in their roles and responsibilities.

State Records also offers a number of free online training modules on records management and recordkeeping in the NSW public sector.

Where can I go for more information?

For more information on the State Records Act or councillors' recordkeeping responsibilities, contact State Records at: govrec@records.nsw.gov.au or 02 8247 8627.


© State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority, 2006.
This work may be freely reproduced and distributed for most purposes, however some restrictions apply.
ISSN 1440-3978