Retention and Disposal Authorities cover records and information regardless of the medium or format in which they are created. With many organisations now conducting their business in a fully digital environment, digital disposal is a core component of disposal. As with disposal of paper records, digital disposal requires thorough analysis and documentation. However in the digital environment it must be conducted across a very broad range of systems and technologies, often on a large scale and with compressed timeframes.
Digital systems collect and generate vast amounts of data. Despite innovations in data storage techniques and decreasing per-unit prices for digital storage media, proper management of this information over time will require analytical and defensible disposal processes. This is because:
- As for paper records, government has specific limitations on the periods of time it can hold certain types of data for privacy and other reasons.
- As for paper records, digital disposal includes processes to identify records which will be transferred as State archives. Ideally, a core component of systems holding high value records and information should be functionality to enable that information to be specifically identified.
- Management overheads for digital systems, such as security, search, and discovery, mean that the cost of storage is only one component of the long term cost. The cost and complexity of these factors is increasing rather than decreasing.
- Digital systems accumulate vast volumes of system metadata in their routine operations. While a lot of this metadata is important at the time it is produced, a majority of it does not have long term value.
Building digital disposal capability should be part of your organisation’s records and information management strategy, and should focus on core systems and high value/high risk records and information.