- What is administrative change?
- 1. When a function is transferred between NSW public offices
- 2. When a function is transferred to another government
- 3. When a new function is created
- 4. When an existing function is abolished
- 5. Amalgamation of public offices
Records held by NSW Government organisations are a valuable resource for NSW Government and the community. Records are a core strategic asset and need to be protected and managed appropriately through any form of administrative change.
Administrative change may be:
- the transfer of a function between NSW public offices
- the transfer of a function to another government, either from NSW to another government jurisdiction or from another government jurisdiction to NSW
- the creation of a new function, or
- the abolition of an existing function, or
- the amalgamation of public offices.
Examples of triggers for administrative change can include:
- new piece of legislation
- Machinery of Government or MoG change
- change of Government after an election
- merger (or de-merger) of two or more public offices.
Each of the types of administrative change and the recordkeeping issues to consider is addressed below.
Transferring public office refers to the public office which is transferring a function to another public office.
Receiving public office refers to the public office which is receiving the function from another public office.
The transfer of a function between NSW public offices:
- will involve the transfer of control and responsibility for records (digital and physical records), and
- may also involve the relocation of staff and records (digital and physical) to different premises.
Briefly, the process includes:
- identifying the records of the function
- determining management arrangements
- making decisions about records not required by either public office
- managing access
- managing the transfer of records
- notifying NSW State Archives and Records, and
- amending records management tools.
Identifying the records of the function
The transferring public office undertakes a process to identify all:
- records (physical and digital) and metadata, associated with the function to be transferred
- supporting information/documentation that will be required to manage the records.
Records of the function will be specific to the function, but may also include general administrative records such as personal files of staff transferring with the function.
Talking to action officers will also help with records identification.
Remember, records in digital form stored in records and document systems or EDRMS, line of business systems, email, spreadsheets, databases, shared network drives, cloud storage etc., associated with the function need to be identified and transferred.
If personnel are also being transferred as part of the Machinery of Government change, remember to identify the relevant employee records which will need to be transferred to the receiving public office. At a minimum, this will include:
- Employee file or “p” file
- payroll data with appropriate metadata
- payment of superannuation
- summary of current entitlements such as service, leave etc.
The transferring public office should also identify if records associated with the function are held in the State Archives Collection or in records storage facilities.
Determining management arrangements
The transferring public office and receiving public office agree and formally document management arrangements for the records.
There should be a formal agreement or an MOU to manage the transfer of records between the public offices which identifies:
- all records that are to be transferred to the control of the receiving public office (including description of series of records, date ranges, supporting information for the management and control of the records)
- requirements for the migration of digital records to the control and responsibility of the receiving public office
- any hardware, software or equipment or system dependencies that may be needed for ongoing management of the records and/or to provide access to the records.
- costs associated with the transfer of records between the public offices (includes costs for relocation and transfer of physical records in secondary storage)
- any records of the function that are to be retained by the transferring public office
- roles and responsibilities
- a cut-off date for older records which will not be transferred to the receiving public office (based on an analysis of the needs of both public offices), and
- if NSW State Archives and Records' authorisation is required.
Check whether the records that relate to the function are maintained as a separate series or group. If they are a separate series, then the series should be transferred in its entirety to the receiving public office. If not, it may be necessary to transfer only part of a series, or to copy the relevant records and provide the copy to the receiving public office to ensure that both public offices still have access to the records they need.
Physical records of the function already held in records storage facilities should also be included in the review of management arrangements. If the records are required by the receiving public office, then control should be transferred to the receiving public office.
Where the records storage facility is managed by a commercial storage provider, there should be an existing formal contract between the transferring public office and the provider. Arrangements should be made to cover changes in contractual arrangements (transfer of contract to receiving public office), changes to control and access to records in storage, storage costs, outstanding charges etc.
Determining whether NSW State Archives and Records' authorisation is required
Records that were created by a NSW public office are State records and subject to the requirements of the State Records Act 1998.
When records are transferred from:
- a NSW Government agency or department to another NSW Government agency or department
- a local government Council to another local government Council
then it is not necessary to seek authorisation or permission to transfer control of the records, as functions have been transferred as a result of administrative change, e.g. Administrative Arrangements (Administrative Changes—Public Service Agencies) or a Local Government (Council Amalgamations) Proclamations, see www.legislation.nsw.gov.au.
If records are being transferred from a public office (a NSW Government agency or department, a University, or a local government council) to a private sector organisation or another government jurisdiction, then public offices do need to seek the permission of the Board of the State Archives and Records Authority of New South Wales prior to the transfer.
Making decisions about records not required by either public office
The transferring public office reviews records of the function not required for transfer to the receiving public office and ensures that:
- records are sentenced for disposal using current retention and disposal authorities
- physical records are transferred to a records storage facility for ongoing retention until the records are time-expired and can be disposed
- digital records and associated metadata are maintained in systems (EDRMS or line of business systems) or digital storage until the records are time-expired and can be disposed
- appropriate arrangements are made for the authorised destruction of time-expired records in accordance with authorised retention and disposal authorities
- records identified as State archives are transferred to the State Archives Collection.
There should also be agreement between the transferring and receiving public offices on responsibilities for handling external/public access requests, e.g. GIPA requests, for records remaining in the control of the transferring public office.
It’s important that there is a documented agreement on arrangements for access. This will include:
- access by the transferring public office to records it created and transferred
- access by the receiving public office to records retained by the transferring public office
- arrangements for access to records in records storage facilities or in the State Archives Collection, and
- public access.
Note: Access by another organisation to records in the State Archives Collection would normally require the written permission of the public office with control of the records. NSW State Archives and Records would also normally require organisations other than the one with control, i.e. 'third party organisations', to view records in the State Archives Collection in the reading room located at the Western Sydney Records Centre.
Public access to records
The State Records Act requires public offices to make access directions for records over thirty years old.
The transferring public office should advise the receiving public office of existing access directions or the content of the records to help determine appropriate access directions. The receiving public office may also wish to review access directions made by the transferring public office. If records are not covered by access directions, then directions will need to be made (see Making access directions).
Public offices that have made access directions, and records covered by access directions, are listed in the Register of access directions.
Managing the transfer of records
The transferring public office transfers the records to the control and responsibility of the receiving public office.
Listing the records
The transferring public office should list the records to be transferred. The inventory list should include details of:
- all records (physical or digital), including records held in EDRMS or recordkeeping systems, line of business systems, email, shared network drives (note: ensure that you also identify metadata)
- any records in records storage facilities, in any format
- any records held in cloud-based or other service arrangements, or
- information and supporting information for the management and control of the records such as business classification schemes, retention and disposal information, security and access requirements of the records.
Remember that all relevant personnel records, including the employee file or “P” file, attendance records, leave records will also need to be included on the inventory of records to be transferred.
The transferring public office should provide a copy of the list of records to be transferred to the receiving public office and also retain a copy for their own accountability needs. The receiving public office should check records received against the inventory provided.
Both public offices should confirm in writing that the transfer has occurred.
If the records are to be physically moved, paper files should be packed securely in labelled boxes and arrangements made with the receiving public office for their relocation. (See Records in transit)
Transferring digital records will involve the transfer of control of data and the associated metadata, it may also involve the transfer of software licence and/or hardware. It will be a significant migration project.The transferring public office’s staff should liaise with their own ICT department and that of the receiving public office to agree media and format and migration any other requirements for transfer. (See Migrating records)
The transferring and receiving public offices will also need to manage and dispose of State records which have been used as the input or source records for successful migration operations. (See Source records that have been migrated (GA48)).
The transferring public office may also need to decommission business systems that have held State records. (See Decommissioning systems: records and information management considerations).
Notifying NSW State Archives and Records
If any of the records being transferred have been registered in NSW State Archives and Records' control system, the transferring public office must notify NSW State Archives and Records of the transfer of records.
The transferring public office should also identify to the receiving public office if any records identified as State archives associated with the function are held in the State Archives Collection.
Public offices should also advise NSW State Archives and Records on how functions have been re-allocated so that administrative histories and access directions for State archives can be updated.
A vital element of transferring responsibility for records is amending records management tools.
Updating control records
Control records are tools used to manage records. They are records in themselves and are used in both paper and digital records management systems. Examples of control records include thesauri, file registers, indexes.
The transferring public office should amend control records to indicate that responsibility for the management of the records has been transferred to the receiving public office. Include the
- details of records transferred
- date of transfer, and
- details of the public office to which they were transferred.
The transferring public office should provide a copy of the control records to the receiving public office.
It is important that the history of the records can be reconstructed. Identify transferred records in the receiving public office’s records management system and tools as transferred and note the details of the transferring public office. Records should not generally be re-titled, re-numbered or re-ordered. Link the transferred records to those created subsequently by the receiving public office through the records management system and tools.
Business classification schemes and thesauri
The transferring public office may provide the receiving public office with copies of relevant business classification schemes and thesauri, and copies of the development documentation for the business classification schemes and thesauri. This will be useful in integrating the function into the receiving public office’s own business classification scheme and thesauri.
The transferring public office may need to revise its business classification scheme and thesaurus following the transfer of a function as certain terms may no longer be valid. Redundant terms should not be deleted from the thesaurus. Instead change the terms to ‘non-preferred’ and indicate the end date.
Retention and disposal authorities
A retention and disposal authority is a formal instrument that identifies records, defines how long they should be kept and when they should be destroyed or retained as State archives.
The transferring public office should provide the receiving public office with details of any functional retention and disposal authorities which relate to the records being transferred. Ideally, the transferring public office should provide details of the retention and disposal requirements applying to all records being transferred to the receiving public office.
When functions move between branches or units within a specified public office, the functional authority does not have to be resubmitted to NSW State Archives and Records. However, when functions move from one public office to another, NSW State Archives and Records should be notified as the receiving public office may need the approval of NSW State Archives and Records to use the functional authority.
Where no functional retention and disposal authority exists, authorisation will need to be developed and submitted for approval to NSW State Archives and Records prior to any disposal of records taking place. Note: general retention and disposal authorities may, of course, continue to be used as appropriate.
Records management policies and procedures
It is also important that all records management policies, procedures and business rules are updated to reflect the administrative change.
The transfer of functions can occur between different governments, for example between the Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales Government. Appropriate arrangements for the management of records following the transfer of functions will need to be made. Such arrangements will be affected, in general, by the fact that the ownership of State records must not be transferred from the NSW government to another government without the authorisation of NSW State Archives and Records.
NSW public offices which are responsible for a function that is to be transferred to another government should contact NSW State Archives and Records to discuss the management of the affected records.
There are a number of principles that apply to records of transferred functions. These are:
- the transferring organisation should close records of completed transactions
- the transferring organisation should close records of current transactions at or before the date the function is transferred
- the receiving organisation will need records of current transactions and closed transactions to ensure the efficient administration of the function.
The planning phase of the transfer will determine what records will be required by the receiving organisation.
To meet the need for records of current transactions, the transferring organisation may:
- provide custody of the records to the receiving organisation for a specific period
- copy the records or data about the records (metadata) and supply copies to the receiving organisation
- seek permission for transfer of ownership of the records.
When a new function is created, the public office will need to update its records management tools to reflect this.
Update records management tools including:
- control records
- the business classification scheme and thesaurus
- develop a functional retention and disposal authority
- to incorporate the new function.
See Amending records management tools for more details.
When a function is abolished, the public office will need to retain the records but amend its records management tools to make it clear that no new records are to be created for this function.
Review records against general and functional retention and disposal authorities to see whether they can be transferred to records storage facilities or to the State Archives Collection.
This process also includes:
- updating control records
- revising the business classification scheme and thesaurus, and
- revising the functional retention and disposal authority
to indicate that functions and terms are no longer in use. Do not delete entries, revise to show the end date.
See Amending records management tools for more details.
When public offices are amalgamated, there are ramifications for records management and recordkeeping. Amalgamations may be complex or relatively straightforward depending on the timing and degree of:
- integration of functions and staff
- co-location or moving of staff and resources (such as services and records)
- integration of ICT infrastructure, and
- integration of information resources.
In some cases, changes may be minimal e.g. where several public offices are merged into a ‘super-organisation’ but retain their own operational systems, software and personnel or adopt ‘shared service’ arrangements. In this case many of the steps below will not be relevant.
The changes to records management and recordkeeping can be significant when there are different systems and software to be integrated. A change of location may also have implications for managing records e.g. the availability of records storage or accessibility of recordkeeping expertise.
Advice in When a function is transferred between public offices will also be relevant to the amalgamation processes.
Managing records when public offices amalgamate
The table below summaries the main stages in managing records when public offices amalgamate their recordkeeping and records management systems. Further detail is provided after the table.
Planning for integration
Managing the changeover
Preparation involves forming a steering group consisting of key information and records management positions from across the merging public offices to plan for and carry out the necessary actions. The Senior Responsible Officers for records management from each public office should be part of this group.
This steering group should report to relevant high level committees established to oversee all aspects of the amalgamation so they remain informed of recordkeeping issues and progress.
The steering group for records management will need to identify the following in the preparatory stages:
- all business communications and recordkeeping systems in the public offices who are merging, including financial management systems, HR systems, EDRMS systems, business systems and unofficial recordkeeping systems
- the different hardware and software platforms in each public office
- key staff with records management responsibilities or with knowledge of different systems
- all contracts and service level agreements for the supply of records management services
- all licensing agreements or arrangements for software applications or records management products and tools
- all recordkeeping tools covering the records of merging entities such as thesauri and functional retention and disposal authorities
- the location of all records storage areas including in-house, commercial facilities, or cloud storage
- records transferred to the State Archives Collection and all access directions in place
- recordkeeping or records management issues which will need to be addressed in the amalgamation.
- current organisational records management policies, procedures and rules, including security and access requirements, which apply to each of the merging public offices.
Preparation should also involve allocating relevant staff to:
- close any files that are no longer in use
- dispose of records that can be destroyed or transferred as State archives under current general and functional retention and disposal authorities.
These actions will help to reduce the volume of records that need to be managed during the changeover. See relevant steps within ‘How to transfer control of records’ for more information. If such activities constitute a major project they may be best addressed in longer term plans.
Planning for integration
Good planning and governance can streamline the process of change to records management and recordkeeping. It’s advantageous to identify a lead agency to conduct most of the planning or whose systems can become the basis for new recordkeeping systems. Issues to consider in planning include:
- which records management control system, e.g. EDRMS, to use
- what records management model should be adopted
- what file numbering should be used
- what file titling practices will be adopted
- how records management and business systems will be integrated
- which business systems across the merging public offices keep records
- what work needs to be done and who needs to do it
- change management initiatives required to help with staff transition
- whether records storage contracts (physical and digital) will be transferred to the new entity and any relocation of records required
- who will require access to what information resources when the public offices merge and how access will be provided
- how work processes will change and the effects on recordkeeping requirements
- how recordkeeping and information management processes can be streamlined.
Further information about these issues is provided in the ‘Decisions to be made’ section below. Many decisions will require agreement and sign off by the high level committees of the merging agencies.
Managing the transition between systems
Managing the transition from one system to another involves implementing the plans and projects described above.
Processes for achieving a unified records management system and managing records in business systems are described below.
Managing business systems
Many records are managed in business systems rather than in records management systems. Decisions about managing the transition of these business systems will need to be made and it is important that recordkeeping issues are addressed during the transition.
If business systems are to be closed or integrated, make sure that:
- changes to the business systems are clearly documented and records of these changes are captured in an official recordkeeping system
- data from closed systems is copied to the new systems as required (e.g. manage as a migration, see Migrating records and General retention and disposal authority: Source records that have been migrated (GA48)). Records in closed systems are sentenced using current retention and disposal authorities and the accessibility of data in these systems is maintained as long as is required. (See Decommissioning systems: records and information management considerations)
- the recordkeeping requirements of new systems are assessed and the necessary functionality to capture and maintain records is either built-in or there is an interface with the records management system.
Managing personnel records
Personnel records document the management of employees and contain information which is important to ensuring rights and entitlements.
Personnel records enable the newly merged public office to have a clear understanding of its ongoing employee-related liabilities.
The Employee File is required to be transferred with the employee wherever they go in the public service. The Employee File is a consolidated record of all service.
For further information see Section 5-3 Administering employee records in the Personnel Handbook
In addition to the Employee File, there are a range of personnel records for each employee including service, leave, and payment of superannuation records. Many of these records are now managed in HR systems e.g. leave applications, flexsheets, payslips, an employee’s personal details, claims and deductions etc.
Decisions about amalgamating and decommissioning HR systems will need to be made and it is important that recordkeeping issues are addressed, including:
- What HR records are required to be transferred to the new organisation? This will include a data migration process.
- What HR records are to be left with the predecessor organisation or shared service provider and retained until time-expired? This will require a documented agreement covering the retention and disposal of records.
- Are HR systems to be closed or integrated? This will involve data migration and the decommissioning of systems.
You need to make sure all Employee files are transferred to the new public office.
Managing financial records
It makes it easier if the amalgamation of public offices coincides with a new financial year but this is not always the case. Public offices may decide to continue running parallel financial systems until the new financial year. Use the records management system to document on what date the new public office becomes a legal entity. As with HR systems:
- copy and migrate financial records from one system to the new system
- determine what financial records are to be left with the predecessor organisation or shared service provider and retained until time-expired (make sure that there is a documented agreement covering the retention and disposal of records).
State Records of South Australia, Managing Records Through Administrative Change. August 2010
National Archives of Australia, Transferring information and records following administrative change
Council of Federal, State and Territory Archives, Disposition of records following administrative change. Policy Statement 5. July 1999, updated March 2009
Public Service Commission, Personnel Handbook version 13.3, September 2013
NSW Department of Industry, Transfer of Ownership and Custody of Records form
Published 2003 / Revised 2009, 2012, 2016 / Updated 2018 / Revised September 2019