A different look GRDS

While our GRDS Renewal discussion paper has been out for feedback (have you read and responded yet?), one of our valued clients has been tinkering with the look and feel of the GRDS. They’ve kindly allowed us to share it with you to show another way the GRDS could be presented.

The classes from the current version of the GRDS have been listed alphabetically in Excel. This is to present the GRDS in a layout that’s easy to search where similar classes are grouped together, regardless of function and activity. This layout may be attractive to users who aren’t familiar with the traditional structure of a retention and disposal schedule. Presenting the GRDS like this may also suit its overall purpose, which is a schedule of common activities and classes covering records created by public authorities where activities and classes could be repeated across many functions e.g. committees, policy etc.

Below is a visual of the sample created by our innovative client. It has columns for Title/Topic, Reference, Description and Retention and Disposal Trigger.

GRDS excel


The Title/Topic column is taken from the subject title of each record class. Version 7 of the GRDS unfortunately does not include a title for every class which may make converting the current GRDS into the above format tricky.  However, in version 8 we’ll be adding subject titles to every class which would enable us to present the GRDS in the above layout.

The description hasn’t been provided in this sample, but what do you think?  Would including this information be useful? If we included a description, would the full description from the schedule be useful or would a concise, one sentence description be enough?

In the disposal trigger column, our client told us that they don’t use ‘after last action’. In challenge 4 we asked you about disposal triggers and how you implement them.  Some of you have told us as part of the GRDS Renewal that we need to explore disposal triggers. What if we were radical and just approved a retention period and left it up to you to work out the disposal trigger? Or gave you a variety of disposal triggers that you could choose from? At least that way they would be relevant to your business.

No other jurisdiction in Australia currently provides a layout like this for their equivalent GRDS.  The Territory Records Office has a Whole of Government Records Disposal Schedule for permanent records which lists record classes taken from all their schedules with a retention period of ‘Retain as Territory Archives’. Some of you have told us that providing something similar would be useful. Would this complement your implementation of the GRDS?

If we were to provide a tool like the one above listing the record classes in the GRDS alphabetically, would you use it in your agency? Would you use this instead of an index, or would this complement an index? Let us know what you think about this approach from one of our clients. Leave a comment below or drop us a line at rkqueries@archives.qld.gov.au

Be sure to read our other blogs on the 5 challenges in the GRDS renewal discussion paper and leave your comments!

2 thoughts on “A different look GRDS

  1. Hi QSA

    I think this looks quite practical and useful. I’ve never really understood the need for the GRDS to be released in a full hierarchical format and think something like this would be great!

    This is along the lines of the reasons you mention, i.e. many of the activities / subjects in the GRDS, in my view, need to be repeated under each top level function in a BCS if records are to be kept in context. As such I see the GRDS as more of a list of activities that relate to multiple functions as it is, even though the format doesn’t necessarily suggest that. On a side note however, with the range of flexible metadata systems can capture I’m also not entirely convinced of the need for a 3 level BCS to create context in a digital environment either. Something for the radical ideas section, perhaps 🙂

    RE disposal triggers I’ve been talking about this with some colleagues and came up with a some ideas on this, also possibly for filing under the ‘radical’ options….

    One idea was to have non-negotiable triggers, for instance where there is an evidenced requirement to keep something i.e. legislation, regulation etc. (for example, Accounting/Tax Records) or it is otherwise considered important enough it cannot be varied (i.e. Personnel Files).

    Complementing this could be ‘defensible triggers’ where the schedule is recommended practice although if there is a good reason (i.e. you can defend why) the schedule can be deviated from. For example a quick flick through the schedules would suggest, something along the lines of, say, Operational Plans (12.9.4) or Procedures (12.11.2) if the superseded dates aren’t exactly known and you have a lot of them to work through a justification of why they’re not required can be written, risk evaluated and the records disposed. This, to my view, would be in line with good governance systems that generally differentiate between mandatory activities and optional / recommended activities that are determined by various factors.

    Another thought here was where a complex trigger exists (my term for anything other than ‘last action’) is giving an alternative. Theoretically complex triggers are fairly straight forward in digital systems or where information is properly structured, although can cause a headache when dealing with legacy records or poorly structured information. Going back to the procedures, for example, the schedule could be 3 years after superseded or 7 years from document date / estimated date – whichever suits the context!


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