What’s in a number: new record class numbering pattern revealed!

You unanimously told us in the Preferred Numbering Pattern for GRDS survey a numbering pattern that offers less change that is easy to manage now and into the future is a must.

The purpose of the survey, released in March 2016, was to gather your feedback on unique numbering pattern options for record classes, for authorising disposal. We knew the number needed to change but to what format was the question. Thanks to your feedback the decision was clear. With the release of the GRDS, all record class numbers will follow a sequential numbering pattern starting at 1000.

Why change the current record class number

You told us the current numbering pattern of 1.1.1 (Function.Activity.Class) can result in the following:

  • administrative burden when the GRDS is immediately imported and implemented following the release of a new version, as the numbers for each record class change
  • the same record class number can appear in both the GRDS and agency core schedule, resulting in manual changes in your recordkeeping software to make numbers unique. This is often driven by software confines where reference numbers cannot be duplicated
  • resentencing backlog and/or additional load following the release of a new GRDS, as authorisation reference numbers for each record class change
  • lots of change. As a record class number is not unique and is linked to a QDAN and version number every time these numbers change the record class number also changes.

So, the new unique record class numbering pattern of 1234 can offer the following solutions:

  • a unique number is assigned to each record class; this number will not be used for another record class
  • having a unique number assigned to each record class will provide more stability as it will not be impacted by references that often tend to be changeable, such as versions and QDAN
  • for those who import the full GRDS following updates, you will only need to focus on the changed classes. When a class is updated, you’ll still need to ensure you’re referencing the up-to-date disposal authorisation, but you shouldn’t have to renumber all the classes that haven’t changed
  • real time changes at class level. You will have the ability to request amendments/additions to classes AND QSA has the ability to frequently make changes to record classes.

Why does numbering matter?

Ultimately, numbers matter because you need to be able to demonstrate your disposal has been authorised under a current disposal authorisation – this new number will be your way to do this. However if you wish to add supplemental data to your numbering system to make it meaningful and to work for you there’s nothing to stop you. Ensure you can link your disposal to the current record class number as that forms the disposal authority issued by the State Archivist.

Why 4 digits?

The decision to start the new numbering pattern at 1000 as a 4 digit number is to:

  • give consistency to the unique number. If the number starts at 01 the number of digits will continually change, first in 10s, 100s, 1000s. Starting at 1000 the number will remain as a 4 digit for a longer period before moving to 10,000.
  • clearly show demarcation between past, current and this future pattern. None of the previous and current record class numbers are similar to this numbering pattern.

Advice and assistance

Further advice on the new unique number pattern will be made available for all agencies upon the release of the GRDS which is when we’re looking to introduce the change. After that, we’ll also be looking to apply to core schedules as they get reviewed or developed. Along with controls on managing the unique numbers, we are also reviewing the minimum requirements to document the disposal of public records and will communicate more with you on this (implementation advice supporting principle 2 in Information Standard 31: Retention and disposal of public records (IS31)).

If you have any concerns, questions and comments regarding the new numbering pattern or want to talk through implementation strategies please contact us now, we want to hear it all. We are regularly liaising with agencies to understand implementation solutions, restrictions, pain points and queries so we can build the right implementation advice for you.

Themes from survey responses

Other themes from your survey responses on preferred numbering pattern, which support the sequential numbering pattern, include:

Changes and updates:

  • Avoid extensive changes
    • problematic particularly between versions
    • complete schedule is uploaded every time a change is released
  • Resentencing creates angst and is time consuming


  • Needs to be as simple as possible
  • Ability to easily slot any record class from any schedule into another schedule
  • Agencies have the option to build a numbering system from the unique number released by QSA


  • As long as same number is not reused
  • Simple for less chance of typos
  • Multi-numbering can be confusing


  • Less numbers and code used for all users the better
  • Ability to provide schedule updates on an ad hoc basis
  • QSA can authorise at record class level not schedule level

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