- Are Councillors' records State records?
- Why establish policy and procedures for Councillors?
- What is in the sample policy and procedures?
- How should the sample policy and procedures be modified?
- What are the templates for?
- What are the leaflets for?
- Is training available?
- Where can I go for more information?
One way councillors can be informed of their responsibilities is through the issue of policy and procedures. NSW State Archives and Records has created a sample records management policy and procedures for councillors that can be modified by councils to suit their needs.
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.
Local government councillors 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.
Although there is no specific requirement to create separate policies and procedures for Councillors under the Standard on records management, Councils need 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. The sample policy and 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.
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.
Council policy and procedures on these issues can vary considerably depending on traditional practices, technology available, corporate culture etc. Therefore the sample provides 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.
The sample policy and procedures refers to, and is accompanied by, a number of templates that have been specifically developed for councillors. These include:
- Letter template
- Fax template
- File note template
- Electronic letter template
- Electronic Memo template
- Meeting note.
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.
NSW State Archives and Records has created a customised version of the leaflet Recordkeeping Fundamentals for councillors. This provides a quick summary of why records are important, councillors' recordkeeping responsibilities and ways they might be addressed. The sample policy and 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.
NSW State Archives and Records also offers a number of free online training modules on records management and recordkeeping in the NSW public sector. The Local Government Association of NSW and Shires Association of NSW also provide training for councillors in their roles and responsibilities.
For more information on the State Records Act or councillors' recordkeeping responsibilities, contact NSW State Archives and Records NSW at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 9714 3080.
Published 2013 / Revised February 2015, February 2016, August 2017 / Updated August 2018/Updated July 2019/Updated December 2019