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Records Management Assessment Tool

Introduction |Records Management Assessment Tool | Who should undertake the assessment? | What skills do you need to do an assessment? | How do I conduct the assessment? | What should I do with my completed assessment? | Acknowledgements

Introduction

The regular monitoring of records, recordkeeping, and an organisational records management program, is beneficial for all public sector organisations.  Monitoring ensures that records are managed according to best practice, and in efficient and effective ways that meet the business needs of the organisation and the requirements of Government.  Monitoring should also go beyond a mere assessment of conformity with requirements and actively assist organisations to embed good recordkeeping practices and processes and develop organisational capacity.

Monitoring recordkeeping and the management of records in public offices is a shared responsibility between State Records NSW and public offices. Further explanation of these shared responsibilities is available in the Monitoring Framework re-issued in 2009.  There are a number of tools which can be used for assessing records management performance and conformity with requirements.

Records Management Assessment Tool

The Records Management Assessment Tool is a self-assessment tool designed to assess:

  • conformity with requirements of the State Records Act 1998 and standards issued under the Act, and
  • the capacity of a public office in achieving best practice records management, that is, extending beyond the minimum requirements. 

As a result, the tool measures compliance or ‘must dos’ for all public offices as well as additional performance criteria, which will help determine whether your public office is performing above the minimum requirements at a higher level of maturity, capability and capacity. 

The tool has been structured around the key components of the State Records Act and has been divided into seven modules:

  1. Framework for records management (issued December 2011)
  2. Digital recordkeeping (issued September 2012)
  3. Appraisal and disposal of records (issued December 2011)
  4. Management of longer term records (issued September 2012), and

Each module contains a questionnaire which will assist your organisation to assess its recordkeeping processes and practices.  You can use the tool in a modular style (ie choose to complete a module and evaluate the results before moving onto the next module) or you can use the whole tool and evaluate all results together.

For large organisations or organisations located at different sites, the tool can be used to examine separately these different segments of your organisation for conformity with organisational recordkeeping policy, standards and procedures. 

For assessing the recordkeeping performance of individuals, business units or workgroups, we have designed a separate module which allows you to ‘drill down’ and assess recordkeeping performance within the work unit. 

Suggested pathways for using the tool 

If you want to assess ....Use
Framework for records management
Full and accurate records
Paper-based recordkeeping only
Digital recordkeeping only
Hybrid recordkeeping (both paper-based and some digital recordkeeping)
Storage of records (including the management of State archives)
Appraisal and disposal of records
Counter disaster management of records
Recordkeeping in the work unit

Who should undertake the assessment?

The tool has been designed to be used by the nominated senior officer responsible for records management, or the corporate records manager, or a member of senior staff, to allow them to review and assess the conformity and performance of records management within the organisation.

The tool may also be used by an internal auditor or an independent reviewer, and may form the basis of an audit of controls and processes.

What skills do you need to do an assessment?

We strongly recommend that anyone using this tool should have an understanding of the requirements of the State Records Act and the standards issued under the Act, and familiarity/experience with records management practices and processes.

How do I conduct the assessment?

The assessment tool uses a range of techniques to assess conformity and performance.  The assessor will be asked to:

  • check and verify documentation
  • interview staff for awareness of policy/business rules/procedures
  • observe processes and controls for records management
  • test individual transactions for conformity with policy/business rules/procedures, and
  • undertake system walkthroughs.

As noted earlier, you may choose to use the tool in a modular style, that is complete a module and evaluate the results before moving onto the next module, or you can use the whole tool and evaluate all results together.

The assessment process will require you to:

  1. work through each criteria listed in the module
  2. using the list of evidence provided, determine whether or not your organisation has completed this criteria.  In preparation for your report and planning processes after the assessment, you should also make comments about how comprehensively the organisation has met the criteria or identify areas which require corrective action, and then
  3. rate the level of compliance with the criteria.

Please note, if the criteria is performance based (ie above the minimum requirements of the State Records Act and standards) then you are not required to rate compliance.

Compliance rating

To assist you in determining how well your organisation is conforming with requirements, we recommend that you rate your organisation's compliance.

in each section of the module, you will need to rate your organisation according to the following scale: 

If ...then the rating is ...
All boxes for the section are ticked

Full / High compliance

Half the boxes for the section are ticked

Moderate compliance / minor issues 

Less than half the boxes for the section are ticked

Low / insufficient compliance

Only a few or no boxes ticked in the section

Significant lack of compliance

If you rate your organisation as having Low / Insufficient compliance or Significant lack of compliance in any sections of the questionnaire, then this will indicate areas where your organisation needs to, as a priority, put more effort into meeting the requirements of the State Records Act and the associated standards.

What should I do with my completed assessment?

Undertaking an assessment of your organisation’s recordkeeping practices and processes will result in the identification of areas where practices and processes are appropriate as well as deficiencies or areas in need of improvement. 

You should:

  • evaluate the results
  • identify which areas are rating low on the compliance rating (and where conformity is achieved)
  • identify which areas need improvement and those areas which have rated highly on the compliance rating
  • examine resources (listed with each module) for suggestions on how to improve
  • prioritise improvements and incorporate them into your organisation’s planning processes, and
  • prepare a report for senior management on your findings.

Remember to keep a record of your assessment! 

You do not need to forward copies of your assessments to State Records.  However it is possible that State Records or other organisations interested in good records management may ask in the future to see documentation of your monitoring activities and any corrective actions undertaken as a result.

Acknowledgements

State Records acknowledges the work undertaken by a range of organisations that has assisted State Records NSW in the development of this assessment tool: the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office, National Archives of Australia, Queensland State Archives, State Records of South Australia, Archives New Zealand, and the Independent Commission Against Corruption.