- Things to remember
- Records storage service providers
- Tenders for outsourced records storage
- The contract
- Inspecting facilities
- Sending records to the storage provider
- Further information
- Appendix A: Checklist for records storage facilities
This page gives advice on establishing agreements with commercial storage providers for the storage of physical State records. It does not provide advice on the storage of State archives.
This guidance focuses on issues specific to setting up contracts for records storage services. General procurement advice is available from the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation.
Please note that the advice on this page is not legal advice. You should obtain legal advice before entering into any contractual arrangements.
- Public offices have an obligation to ensure the safe custody and proper preservation of State records (State Records Act 1998, s.11(1), (2))
- The ownership of State records remains with the State unless authorised for transfer by NSW State Archives and Records.
- The disposal of State records must be authorised by NSW State Archives and Records. This is usually done through general and functional retention and disposal authorities.
- State records must be stored in accordance with the requirements of the Standard on the physical storage of State records.
- Good recordkeeping of the contract tender, issue and management process is important for the accountability and liability of the public office over time.
There are a number of records storage service providers, ranging from large national or international companies, local consortia of public offices or local businesses. It is important that the service provider you choose meets the requirements of the Standard on the physical storage of State records as well as your business needs.
The Records and Information Management Professionals of Australasia is a good source of information on records storage service providers. See their website at www.rimpa.com.au. NSW State Archives and Records is unable to recommend service providers.
There are many rules around tendering in NSW. See NSW Procurement's website for a full explanation of these.
When dealing with tenders for physical records storage services, you need to be clear
- what services you require
- the level of service that is acceptable, and
- the likely future growth of your needs.
Examples of matters you may need to clarify are:
- the service provider and storage facilities comply with NSW State Archives and Records’ standards, particularly the Standard on the physical storage of State records
- the volume and format of records to be stored
- the frequency of retrievals of records, out of hours retrievals, special services for urgent requests
- records control systems that will be used to manage your records, whether these are manual or electronic, a particular software, degree of identifying information, e.g. a unique identifier and location details, etc.
- particular requirements for the storage of special format records
- particular requirements for the storage of records with higher security levels
- particular requirements for the secure destruction of records.*
*Note: NSW State Archives and Records recommends the use of environmentally sound destruction methods, e.g. pulping rather than burning.
Cost is of course an important factor in evaluating tenders but should not be the only factor. There are a number of hidden costs that are sometimes associated with records storage services. These should be identified and minimised. Examples of these costs include:
- 'palletising': a charge for removing items from the shelves in preparation for destruction
- early withdrawal. Some storage firms commit their clients to retaining records for the full period decided when the records are deposited. Therefore, if the disposal period is reduced or the organisation recalls them to the office permanently the original 'full' storage rate will still be charged
- collection charges: the cost for collection of record transfers
- urgent retrieval surcharges, and
- termination charges: charges for terminating the contract.
There should always be a contract or some form of documented legal agreement for outsourced records storage services. The contract should set out the usual services expected under the agreement. Typical services include:
- records retrieval
- listing and indexing
- scanning of records on demand
- regular reporting of service statistics
- disaster management etc.
Requirements will of course vary from public office to public office.
The contract should set out service expectations and fees for services, including any of the costs outlined above.
Don't forget to spell out terms and conditions such as
- the period of the contract
- notice period and form of notice
- dispute resolution mechanisms, and
- penalties for breach of contract.
Note: Include agreements about which storage facilities will be used to store your records. Records storage providers may move records between facilities to improve space use and efficiency.
It is a good idea to check storage facilities before you finalise contracts. See Appendix A for some questions to ask and things to look for. Walk through facilities as this is a good way to spot problems. Obtain copies of documentation. Where problems are identified, agree an improvement plan or other solution.
When you send records to outsourced storage, you must:
- make and keep lists of records transferred. Note: These can be generated automatically from records management software.
- continue to manage the disposal of records. The public office remains responsible for ensuring that records are disposed of in accordance with current retention and disposal authorities, even if the actual destruction of records is performed by the contractor. Make sure that you document the disposal of State records.
The NSW Government is committed to ensuring value for money, efficiency and effectiveness in its procurement arrangements. Effective monitoring encourages continuous improvement and compliance with contract terms and conditions. Incorporate requirements for monitoring and reporting into the contract. Things to monitor are:
- service delivery targets
- fees and charges
- standards of facilities and equipment.
This can be achieved through a combination of:
- regular reporting, and
The requirements for reporting should be included in the contract. Some examples of statistics you may want to monitor are:
- percentage of files retrieved within <target> time
- number of complaints
- cost/file retrieval
- cost/file stored
- number of files not located (Note: There may be a number of reasons for this and responsibility may lie with either the public office or the contractor).
- number of files retrieved
- number of files returned
- number of files destroyed
- number of boxes stored
- loose filing done.
NSW Procurement website
Standards Australia, AS/NZS 1015: 2011 Records Management - Physical Storage. Available from Standards Australia. See www.saiglobal.com
NSW State Archives and Records, Accountable Outsourcing: Managing the records and information management considerations of outsourcing, 2015
NSW State Archives and Records, Standard on the physical storage of State records 2019
NSW State Archives and Records, Solutions for Storage: Guidelines on the Physical Storage of State Records Revised edition, 2019.
The checklists below will help when you are:
- drawing up and evaluating tender specifications, and
- inspecting facilities.
Please note, there may be additional issues to consider that are specific to particular facilities or providers. Storage of records is a risk-based decision. A service provider may be the best available option even if they cannot meet all of your requirements.
Things to look for when walking through facilities (or ask about if you are not doing an inspection)
When inspecting storage facilities:
|Secure location of the facilities (away from obvious hazards, e.g. gas works, flood zones)||Signs of mould or other pests|
|Building fabric is appropriate||Outstanding maintenance of building|
|Specialist storage areas for media requiring different conditions||Broken or old equipment|
|Secure loading and unloading areas (e.g. not shared with other organisations, protected from weather)||Storage of any other objects/artefacts/items/materials (Note: Records storage facilities should only be used for record or library materials in accordance with the Storage Standard)|
|Covered vehicles used for transporting records||Disorganised, dirty or cluttered storage areas|
|Fire detection and suppression systems, e.g. smoke/heat alarms, sprinklers*, fire extinguishers||Storage areas not separated from staff areas|
|Environmental monitoring devices||Unattended open doors and other evidence of poor security|
|Disaster bins||Evidence of maintenance|
|No direct sunlight||Well maintained, functioning equipment|
|Weatherproofing||Clean facilities, equipment and containers|
- Where will our records be stored (i.e. which facilities?)
- Do these storage facilities meet the NSW State Archives and Records' Storage Standard? If not, what are the problem areas? What are the plans to address this?
- Do you have a current disaster plan?
- When was this last tested? When was the plan last reviewed?
- What is your maintenance/inspection schedule?
- What is the fire detection and suppression system?
- How do you control the free circulation of air?
- What control systems do you use to manage records?
- What system do you use to destroy records safely and securely? Do you provide Certificates of Destruction?
- What training is provided to staff?
- How secure are the storage facilities? What are the security arrangements? Note: Ask more probing questions if confidential records are being stored. Find out about arrangements for security, access and staff employed.
- Disaster plan
- Guidelines issued to staff re, for example, records handling, information security
Note: There are other management documents that you may want as evidence of the financial viability of the company, e.g. management plan, annual report.
Published 2003 / Revised 2013 / Revised February 2019