Unpacking Policy Requirement 4 – Agencies must actively manage permanent, high-value and high-risk records and information as a priority

Today’s blog post is about priorities. The Records Governance Policy has some thoughts about what records should get more of your attention and we’re going to talk about why that is.

In the past, we’ve tended to look at records in a black and white way. If something was a record, you had to treat it a certain way and that was that. But this way of thinking doesn’t really suit the realities of 2018.

Thanks to changes in how we work and the digital environment, we’re creating more and more records. More than we know what to do with. The problem we face is keeping up with what we’re creating and making sure we have records that we can use and re-use, not just ones that take up storage space.

We also know that everyone is busy busy busy so we want you to focus on the records that matter most. That’s why Policy Requirement 4 is about your most important records – the permanent, high-value and high-risk ones.

How do I identify these records? Is there a list I can use?

Unfortunately, no. Because many of these records depend on your unique business activities and strategic goals, they’re going to be different for every agency. There’s no master list.

You can identify your permanent records by using QSA’s Appraisal Statement and any relevant disposal schedules. If you’re having trouble, we also have some more information on identifying permanent records on our website as well.

High-value records are the records that are important to the business, its operations or stakeholders. Remember these aren’t the same as vital records, though all vital records are high-value. What are your long term temporary records? What records are the most important to help you achieve your strategic goals? What records are the most important to your business imperatives? These are probably your high-value records.

High-risk records are records that post a significant risk to the agency if they were misused, lost, damaged or deleted prematurely. What’s your agency’s definition of high-risk? Have a look at your risk registers or other risk-assessments. What records are listed here? What are the consequences if these risks are realised? Are they major or minor? This will help you to identify your high-risk records.

Now what?

After you’ve identified your permanent, high-value and high-risk records, you need to define the criteria and processes for identifying these records, document their details, and maintain ongoing visibility and management of these records.

What resources or tools will support your staff to identify these records (e.g. a decision tool, a work instruction, a matrix)? What steps are required? By whom? How often?

Once identified, how can you document the details of these records (e.g. a register, flags in a business application)? What details or metadata do you need to document to be able to identify that individual record or group of records?

Now that you’ve got them documented, how are you going to maintain visibility of these records? What resources of tools will help you maintain this visibility?

How you do this is really up to you and the requirements of your agency, but you also need to consider how you are going to apply recordkeeping controls to these records to support security, access, preservation, authenticity and all the rest.

Does this mean I don’t have to worry about all the other records? Like my low-risk ones?

Short answer: No.

Long answer: While we want agencies to dedicate their time and resources to permanent, high-value and high-risk records as a priority, this doesn’t mean that other records don’t matter. As your agency’s recordkeeping maturity and your recordkeeping skills increase, you will be able to extend active management to all of your records. This isn’t just to increase your workload! Active management of all agency records means your agency has the information it needs to make informed, evidence-based strategic decisions.

We know that agencies are struggling with the amount of records they’re producing. Policy Requirement 4 is about this reality. The goal is to actively manage all your records but the minimum is to actively manage your permanent, high-value and high-risk records. And you won’t have to do it alone. We’re continuing to look at better ways we can work with you to support your recordkeeping.

Got something you’d like to say about Policy Requirement 4? How do you manage your permanent, high-value and high-risk records? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

P.S. Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog as we unpack every element of this policy over the next few weeks.

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Government Recordkeeping

 

Featured image: Computer at the University of Queensland, c 1965, Queensland State Archives Item ID1076702

 

 

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