Structure of the GRDS

Following on from our previous blog – Expanding the GRDS – we’re asking if it would be easier for your business if we did away with functions and only had activities that could be used under any function?

In the feedback you’ve given us so far, we’ve received opinions for and against this idea.

For the against camp, ‘Remove all functions from the GRDS – We are not fond of this option as you are losing context as you will not know which function the activity relates to unless there is an indication of which functions the retention relates to.’

For the yes camp, ‘The concept of a list of records types as per Western Australia is probably the most user friendly to non-records personnel, and assuming adequate cross referencing to cater for differences in terminology this is potentially the most user friendly to all employees in an organisation.’

What do you think?  Are you a traditionalist and like the structure of function/activity/record class, or can we be innovative and have a GRDS that is more user-friendly and could be adapted to your organisation’s needs?

For all you traditionalists out there, how about if we keep the same structure of function/activity/record class but elevate the common activities of planning, policy, agreements etc to a ‘Common Activities’ section.  As we mention in the GRDS Renewal Discussion Paper^, the Northern Territory Records Disposal Schedule of Administrative Functions has 16 common activities which can be used across any of the functions.

So far the feedback has been nothing but positive for this concept:

The idea of a common activities and common functions as per the Northern Territory Archives Services is appealing as it would enable: a more comprehensive coverage of various record types, and reduce duplication or omission where we currently have some record types that are covered under one function and not the other. 

One function for multiple activities – Prefer this option as it would remove a lot of ambiguity.

Raising some common activities that are relevant to multiple functions, to a function level so that the record class or subject index is able to be utilised without having to repeat them across functions is very appealing.   

Advantages of this approach include a smaller GRDS to implement, reduced duplication of activities and consistency of retention periods across functions.

If we go ahead with this concept, would we also need to provide you with implementation advice?

On a slightly different note, we have received some feedback about the use of ‘Major’ and ‘Minor’ and ‘Significant’ and ‘Other’ to differentiate which records should be kept permanently.  You have told us that these record classes can be confusing because either they are not being consistently used in the schedule or there is disagreement within an agency on what is considered major or minor, etc.  How would you like to see these terms being used if at all?  Do we need to have information at the beginning of the schedule about what ‘significant’ means?  See the WA General Disposal Authority for State Government Information as an example.

Before the discussion paper closes for comment on 27 February 2015, we are having a drop-in session at Café Cue on the ground level of 80a George Street in Brisbane on Wednesday 25 February from 8am to 1pm.  This is an opportunity for agencies to provide feedback in person and there is no set agenda or time slots or presentations.  Just drop in for a chat and a coffee.   We haven’t forgotten our regional friends, so keep an eye out for an event coming soon.

Remember, you can contact us at any time via email, telephone, blog, Twitter or Facebook on any issues relating to the GRDS Renewal discussion paper^.

Elizabeth Harvey

Appraisal Archivist

Featured image: Mark marker  CC0 0

^Please note: the GRDS Renewal project has finished. The new version of the GRDSwas released on 1 September 2016.

4 thoughts on “Structure of the GRDS

Add yours

  1. Re significant/other major/minor – some sort of definition or guidelines (brief and to the point) to assist agenices with the application of these terms when sentencing would be incredibly helpful. How do other agencies make decision when applying these classification when sentencing?

    1. Thank you for your comments on the benefit of having a criteria or further information on determining what records fall under a significant/major class. We understand the difficulties in assigning records into these categories and we are actively working in this space. During the development of GRDSv8, we will definitely be working with business areas to develop specific and relevant criteria to determine significant/major records. Also, have a look at the new Tourism Retention and Disposal Schedule (QDAN709v1) here: for another option we could adopt to define the significant and other criteria.


  2. I think it would be great. 99% of our users have no knowledge or real understanding of the different levels – all they really care about is the transaction that they are trying to sentence. I’m all for something that makes it easier for the end user to use and understand.

Leave a Reply to Queensland State Archives Cancel reply

Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: