This Advice provides some information around questions NSW State Archives and Records has received in relation to Council amalgamations. For more detailed advice see Records and Organisational Change.
Where do we start?
The first critical action is a planned approach. The Action Plan should identify the following:
- a recordkeeping strategy that covers any decisions around how the records should be transferred, managed, accessed and any issues around custody and/or ownership, recordkeeping policies and procedures
- Business Classification Schemes in use
- requirements for scanning projects as set out in the Digitisation advice.
- current GIPA and PIPA issues to be addressed and staff access to records needed to perform their daily activities
- Service Level Agreements for storage of records and recordkeeping systems and whether post-merger Service Level Agreements need to be re-negotiated or established
- a consolidated approach in the review, migration, transfer or destruction of stored records.
- (See the procedures for transfer of physical and digital records as State archives.)
What information do you need to consider?
Managing the transfer and/or amalgamation of business information is complex because records and information:
- are subject to legislative changes including records relating to areas controlled by the Council
- are held in multiple systems (business systems, electronic document and records management software, finance and HR management systems, customer relation systems etc.)
- could be managed in cloud service arrangements (social media, project management systems, collaboration platforms)
- are potentially created and stored by outsourced service providers
- stored in multiple physical locations including on and off-site storage and possibly with commercial storage providers.
It is important to know where business critical, high risk and high value information is located so that it can be managed through any administrative change.
What do you need to think about?
It is vital that records continue to be created, captured, managed and preserved throughout the change. It may be helpful to consider the following:
- compiling an inventory or register of all systems and the information stored in:
- legacy systems
- stand-alone business systems
- recordkeeping systems
- shared drives
- email systems
- cloud storage
- offsite or commercial storage
- NSW State Archives
- identification of records which need to be retained or transferred to the new council
- identification of the 'owners' of the information e.g. business unit managers
- records management policies and procedures
- any documented integration between systems and/or key recordkeeping systems
- the business classification systems used by the respective Councils.
What do you do about published information such as Annual Reports for former Councils?
Information published by Councils including Annual Reports and open access information released under the Government Information (Public Access) Act can be uploaded to OpenGov.
OpenGov (www.opengov.nsw.gov.au) is a searchable online repository for NSW Government publications and includes a range of published information such as annual reports, strategic plans, guides and policy documents.
EDRMS for the respective Councils will contain information relevant for the particular Council. The merged Councils may decide to migrate to one EDRMS or to implement a new EDRMS.
Noting that the records of the former councils become the responsibility of the new council, decisions need to be made about managing the system. It is important for records managers to liaise closely with IT Managers in considering the following:
- migration of systems (see the General retention and disposal authority: source records that have been migrated)
- review of any configuration documents associated with each system
- technology dependence and incompatibility
- security and access controls
- Business Classification Schemes to be used
- links to the General retention and disposal authority: local government records
- metadata standards to be adopted
- titling conventions to be used.
Updated August 2018