NSW Government web content are State records under the State Records Act 1998. Web content is currently considered as a publication and the website as the digital publishing platform.
- web content which are required by legislation to be accessible and/or available online
- web content which can be removed from the website as they are time-expired or duplicated elsewhere.
- web content required for longer term retention
- web content required as State archives.
The development of a detailed archiving plan is an essential element of website archiving or decommissioning process. The plan should consider including the following tasks:
- identification of required resources including task list, people, time and cost
- securing approval and support of the agency’s senior executive
- identification and engagement with affected stakeholders, including the website creators, administrators, managers and its audience which may be internal to the agency in the case of an Intranet, or external, if a publicly available website
- website content audit which includes determining the function of web pages and corresponding retention periods. This activity will also enable identification of technical specifications for:
- website/s which will be decommissioned and retained, including storage options
- web content which should be prepared for transfer to NSW State Archives.
Website Content audit
A comprehensive content audit of the website needs to be undertaken prior to the decommissioning or archiving project in order to identify business records, their owners and to make retention and disposal decisions. The audit needs to incorporate the following tasks:
- Identification of the agency’s specific recordkeeping requirements in regard to enabling legislation or legislation overseen by the agency
- Identification and application of relevant Disposal Authorities issued by the NSW State Archives and Records Authority
- Identification of web content for retention in the agency’s records management system for appropriate retention either by the agency or ultimate transfer to NSW State Archives
- Identification of web content for migration to other agency websites or their website partners (when relocating content for agency reorganisation and/or consolidation)
Agencies need to work closely with their IT staff, website vendors/hosts and other technical stakeholders/partners in order to:
- Determine to what extent website content has already been archived elsewhere. Check National Library of Australia’s Pandora, and State Library NSW’s Internet Archive pages for more information. State Archives and Records NSW is not duplicating the collecting initiatives of these institutions.
- Determine and communicate strategies and processes for the migration of required records to an appropriate business system enabled to meet record keeping requirements (See Checklist for assessing business systems)
- Determine if a snapshot of the website is required or will be required. This decision should be based on risk, availability and accessibility requirements
- Determine feasibility of migrating required website documents to newly consolidated websites for reuse and/or updating
- Ensure broken website links are identified and addressed using a broken link checker
- Audit the impact of the website archiving project on existing vendor, software and hardware contracts and licenses
- Manage the retention, transfer or redirection of the website domain name and impact its impact on agency profile, recognition and reputation.
- Determine the format of the identified web content for retention and storage and for transfer to NSW State Archives.
It is best practice for NSW public offices to manage public expectations in relation to availability and accessibility of web content. Some strategies to consider are:
- Providing a notice that the website will be decommissioned, why the website, web page or web content will be removed and when it will happen
- Providing contact information that will respond to public enquiries regarding the website and its content
- Redirecting users to another website, if applicable or available.
Published November 2020