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Frequently asked questions (GA39)

When did the new authority take effect from?

GA39 came into effect on 7 February 2011 when a letter of advice was sent from the Director of State Records to all council general managers. Nominated senior officers and records management contacts were also notified of the issue of the authority on that date.

How is the new authority different from GDA10?

Structure

The basic structure of the new authority is the same as GDA10 in that the existing 32 functions have been retained. An additional entry has been included to provide specific disposal coverage for records created wholly or in part prior to 1920 (see 33.0 - Pre-1920 records).

Numbering of entries

Some renumbering of disposal classes has been unavoidable, for example, where classes have been removed or consolidated to eliminate inconsistencies and duplication or overlaps in coverage. Linking tables have been provided to assist in identifying disposal classes that have been renumbered.

New, removed and consolidated entries

There are a number of additional activities and disposal classes, and some entries have been removed as they were duplicated in other parts of the authority or related to records that can be disposed of under the Normal Administrative Practice provisions of the State Records Act 1998 (NSW). Some activities have been consolidated, for example, GOVERNMENT RELATIONS - Inquiries - Council (GDA10 14.3.0) and GOVERNMENT RELATIONS - Inquiries - Other (GDA10 14.4.0), have been consolidated and the activity renamed GOVERNMENT RELATIONS - Inquiries (GA39 14.3.0).

Linking tables have been provided to assist in identifying new, removed and consolidated entries.

Renaming of functions and activities

The title of the function COUNCIL PROPERTY has been changed to PROPERTY MANAGEMENT as councils may be responsible for properties they do not necessarily own. The numbering of this function (5.0.0) and its activities and disposal classes has not been changed, although it has been placed in alpabetical order in the authority.

Some activities have also been renamed, for example, the activity Freedom of Information (GDA10 INFORMATION MANAGEMENT 16.1.0) has been renamed Access (GA39 INFORMATION MANAGEMENT 16.1.0), as this activity now encompasses requests for access under the Government Information (Public Access) Act (2009) , as well as records relating to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (1989) and s.12 of the Local Government Act 1993.

See references and scope notes

See references have been added at the function and activity level, and scope notes have been added to all activities to provide guidance to users and assist in the sentencing process.

Examples of records

Examples of records have been incorporated into disposal class descriptions and/or indexed, rather than appearing in a separate column. The examples of records given in disposal classes are indicative only, and are not a definitive list of the types of records covered by the disposal class.

Index

The index is more comprehensive and is now available online. Clicking on the index entries will take you directly to the relevant activity in the authority. The index is intended to be a dynamic document that can be updated as required. Please contact State Records at disposal@records.nsw.gov.au if you have any queries or requests relating to the index.

Implementation guidance

Additional guidance re implementation of the new authority is available.

Why are some of the activities out of numerical order?

Since GDA10 was issued in 2000 a number of gaps in coverage have been identified. Where possible, these were dealt with under existing classes but in some cases additional activities and disposal classes had to be added to the authority. To minimise as much as possible the need for extensive re-numbering and re-sentencing, these new activities have been allocated numbers from the end of the existing sequence within the relevant function. This means that some activities within a function are in alphabetical but not numerical order. See for example the activities of Compliance (5.14.0) and Conservation (5.15.0) under PROPERTY MANAGEMENT (COUNCIL PROPERTY).

Do I need to re-sentence?

The General retention and disposal authority: local government records (GA39) is now the current legal authority for the disposal of records created and maintained by councils. GDA10 should no longer be used as a source of authority for the destruction of records or their transfer as State archives.

This means that any existing records maintained by councils and covered by this authority should now be retained and disposed of in accordance with the retention periods and disposal actions identified in this authority. This includes records already transferred to off site storage or to commercial storage providers such as the Government Records Repository. It does not affect any records already formally transferred to State Records' control and/or custody as State archives.

In effect this means:

  • records already sentenced according to GDA10 and that are required as State archives must be re-sentenced according to the current authority or they cannot be accepted for transfer, and
  • records already sentenced and approved for destruction according to GDA10 should either be re-sentenced or compliance with the minimum retention requirements of GA39 assessed and confirmed prior to any destruction taking place.

The updating of records management systems and re-sentencing of records to reflect current minimum retention periods and final disposal actions can be a resource intensive process, particularly for large councils with significant quantities of records. Councils may need to adopt a planned approach to the management of this process, for example:

  • prioritising the re-sentencing of records where retention periods or disposal outcomes have changed or increased significantly, or
  • adopt risk managed strategies for documenting compliance with the current authority until records management systems can be updated, for example annotating disposal documentation (such as destruction lists etc) to record that compliance with GA39 has been assessed prior to records destruction proceeding.

To assist these processes linking tables have been provided to guide users from entries in GDA10 to entries in the new authority.

What versions are available?

The General retention and disposal authority: local government records is available in HTML format for browsing, PDF format (1209kb) for downloading and printing, and an XML (1200kb) version to support conversion of the authority.

A modified version of the authority in CSV format (434kb) is also available. This CSV has been made available to provide a generic export format of the authority which can potentially be used in any electronic document management system. This means that some manipulation will be required to tailor or map it to the particular system used by an organisation. Councils are free to share customised files with other councils that use the same systems, or within user groups such as the TRIM and Dataworks user groups but should be aware that these may need to be further customised to reflect their individual operating environment and requirements.

Can I obtain software loadable formats?

State Records does not distribute or make available product or software-specific loadable versions of its authorities. Please contact your vendor or service provider directly for advice or assistance regarding the availability of software loadable versions of authorities.

What does 'Required as State archives' mean?

Records identified as 'Required as State archives' in the authority are those records that have been appraised as worthy of permanent preservation in the State archives collection of State Records.

Records identified as State archives in GA39 should be transferred to State Records' custody and/or control when the records are over 25 years old and no longer in use for official purposes. The early transfer of records is possible. Please contact Archives Control and Management to discuss proposals for the early transfer of records.

If the records are more than 25 years old and are still in use for official purposes, then a 'still in use determination' should be made.

To discuss options for the transfer and management of State archives and for further advice about the making of a 'still in use determination' please contact Archives Control and Management on (02) 9673 1788.

What if I cannot find the records I am looking for?

Please contact us at State Records on govrec@records.nsw.gov.au or on (02) 8247-8627 if you are having difficulty locating an entry. The examples of records given in disposal classes are indicative only and it is quite possible that the disposal class does provide coverage for the records you are looking into.

If it is confirmed that the record is not covered appropriately by GA39, then councils can use the General retention and disposal authority: administrative records, to sentence the records.