Procedures for disposal authorisation
The purpose of these procedures is to assist organisations in developing functional retention and disposal authorities. Functional retention and disposal authorities are essential records management tools for an organisation and are an integral part of organisational efficiency and accountability.
These procedures will also assist organisations to meet the requirements of the Standard on the appraisal and disposal of State records.
These procedures cover:
- requirements for preparing or revising a functional retention and disposal authority
- the methodology for identifying retention requirements for organisational records
- the process of submitting a functional retention and disposal authority for approval by State Records, and
- using a functional retention and disposal authority issued to a predecessor organisation.
These procedures are for records managers, consultants and other staff within NSW government departments and agencies.
Local councils, universities and public health organisations will not generally need to refer to these procedures as there are general retention and disposal authorities in place for the disposal of the records of these organisations. See State Records' website for more information.
The legal basis for disposal authorisation
Part 3 of the State Records Act 1998 prohibits the disposal of State records except where it is authorised. Under the Act, State Records can give permission for disposal.
The usual means by which State Records permits disposal is through the approval of retention and disposal authorities.
What is a retention and disposal authority?
Retention and disposal authorities are necessary tools for organisational efficiency.
A retention and disposal authority is a formal instrument that identifies the records which an organisation creates and maintains, and for how long they should be kept to meet regulatory, business and community requirements. A retention and disposal authority also identifies whether records should eventually be destroyed or retained as State archives.
Developing and implementing a retention and disposal authority has many potential benefits for your organisation, such as:
- ensuring that records are kept for as long as they are needed
- saving storage costs and office or online space
- preserving records with long-term value
- identifying records for migration when systems are upgraded, and
- prioritising records that require recovery in the event of a disaster.
Types of retention and disposal authorities
There are two types of retention and disposal authorities approved by State Records - general retention and disposal authorities and functional retention and disposal authorities.
General retention and disposal authorities are generally developed by State Records. They facilitate the disposal of:
- general administrative records, such as records relating to personnel, finance, property management etc
- common records that relate to unique functions, and
- records relating to the unique functions of like organisations such as local councils, universities and public health services.
The full list of current general retention and disposal authorities can be accessed via the disposal overview page on State Records' website.
Functional retention and disposal authorities apply to the unique records of a specific government organisation.
If your organisation does not have disposal authorisation for its core functional records (ie those that document business unique to the organisation), you need to develop a functional retention and disposal authority to ensure that these records are disposed of in accordance with the requirements of the State Records Act 1998. Once this functional retention and disposal authority is in place, you can use it in conjunction with the general retention and disposal authorities to ensure that all of your records have adequate disposal coverage.
These procedures provide the step by step guidance required to help organisations prepare a functional retention and disposal authority for approval by State Records. They include specific guidance about the types of documentation you need to submit to State Records to support the approval of the authority.
Tip: It's tough but rewarding!
Developing a functional retention and disposal authority may be a challenging process but its results can be incredibly rewarding, both organisationally and personally.
Depending on the nature of your project, staff working through the process of developing a functional retention and disposal authority will gain an excellent understanding of organisational business, both in terms of its requirements and how it is conducted. They will develop skills in broad stakeholder consultation, become adept at listening to and responding to user requirements, and gain concrete experience in change management. They will also develop an excellent understanding of records management requirements and how these should be implemented to best meet organisational needs.
Use the information provided below about the contents of these procedures to identify the sections most relevant to your needs. Alternatively, download a print version (PDF, 280kb).
- Before you begin
- Best practice in preparing a functional retention and disposal authority
- Methodology for developing a functional retention and disposal authority
- Requirements for internal review and stakeholder consultation
- Submitting a functional retention and disposal authority for approval
- Implementing a functional retention and disposal authority
- Revising an approved functional retention and disposal authority
- Policy on disposal authorisation and administrative change
- Appendix 1: Overview of documentation requirements and templates
- Appendix 2: Example supporting documentation
- Appendix 3: Drafting the authority - State Records' requirements and conventions for functional retention and disposal authorities
- Appendix 4: Example of a functional retention and disposal authority
- Appendix 5: Checklist for submitting a functional retention and disposal authority for approval
- Appendix 6: Interviewing business managers and action officers
- Appendix 7: Table of commentary template
- Appendix 8: Determining the cost of records storage
See Appendix 1 for an overview of documentation requirements and templates.
© State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority, 2000.
First published February 2000 / Revised edition June 2003 / Revised edition April 2007 / Revised edition October 2008 / Revised edition October 2010 / Revised edition April 2011
This work may be freely reproduced and distributed for most purposes, however some restrictions apply. See our copyright notice or contact us.