Feedback on the Records Governance Policy

It’s been nearly two months since the State Archivist released the Records Governance Policy, so we thought it might be a nice time to look at how the Policy came to be.

From the very beginning, when we first started thinking about reviewing Information Standards 40 and 31, we knew we wanted to do something different. We knew we needed to do something different. We also knew we needed your help.

To get as much feedback as possible, we did two lots of consultation which finished on 17 April 2018. We used what we learnt from you to amend both the Policy itself and its accompanying Implementation Guideline.

Overall, feedback on the Policy was positive (phew!). Today, we’ll talk about the themes we saw and how that shaped the final product.

Themes

There were a few different themes that we noticed in all the feedback we received:

  • Wording – People had questions and comments about our departure from the terminology people were used to from the Information Standards. They suggested that some of the words used were confusing or suggested something we didn’t intend (remember ‘right records’?)
  • Gaps – People noted a few things they felt should be specifically addressed in the Policy. They asked why metadata wasn’t mentioned or why we didn’t talk about a Business Classification System (BCS).
  • Tools – People mentioned a few places where they felt a tool or additional resource would be useful, something to help them translate the Policy Requirements into practical, operational form.
  • Structure – People also suggested reordering some Policy Requirements to change the emphasis of the document and its flow.

Wording

The feedback on wording really made us think about our word choices and we’re pleased to say it resulted in a lot of changes that get our message across much better.

For example:

  • People pointed out that ‘recordkeeping’ was old terminology and it didn’t really capture the reality of modern records management. We agreed – and changed the name of the Policy to the Records Governance Policy.
  • People said that ‘existing governance practices’ made it seem like we didn’t want people to change and improve. We definitely want people to do that so we changed it to reflect that what we want is records governance that is aligned with the rest of the agency and that works together with other governance frameworks.
  • People said that the term ‘right records’ was too subjective or hard to understand. We changed it to ‘complete and reliable’ – two terms that capture the full range of characteristics that records need to have.

Gaps

A few people asked where was this or why hadn’t we mentioned that. Some of these comments worried us – we thought we had mentioned it! Sure, we didn’t use the exact same words, but we’d made an effort to use ones that were deliberately broad rather than narrow and specific. So we asked ourselves, if that’s unclear, what can we do to change that? Just like with wording, we looked at the Policy closely to find the places where we could be clearer or explain things better.

Sometimes the gaps were things we made a deliberate decision to exclude, for example, mention of a BCS. We wanted a policy that worked for every single one of the 500 or so agencies in Queensland, not one that required agencies to implement something that might not be most suitable for them or how they work. In the interests of flexibility and encouraging agencies to build records governance around their specific needs, we deliberately wrote a policy that avoided being a checklist of recordkeeping tools or applications for agencies to acquire so that agencies were free to decide on their own.

Tools

We really loved all the feedback we got about tools and resources that people felt might help agencies implement the Records Governance Policy. We used your suggestions to shape what was in the Implementation Guideline and to guide our ongoing development of further resources. Thanks to your suggestions, we’re developing resources and advices to address the topics and areas you’ve identified as where you’d like more guidance.

If you haven’t had the chance yet, we encourage everyone to have a look at the Records Governance Policy Implementation Guideline. The Guideline is where you’ll find information and advice on implementing the Policy for agencies of all sizes and inclinations.

Structure

This is an example of why feedback is so important.

Some of the feedback we received pointed out that if we really wanted to take a new approach to recordkeeping and to change the way people see it and use it, then we should make the Policy Requirement about support and responsibility the first requirement, not the last. We thought this was a great idea! We wanted this Policy to change the way people thought about their recordkeeping and the most important part of that is support at EVERY level.

We also looked at the order of other Policy Requirements and whether they flowed and matched the records lifecycle.

This leads us nicely to the other thing we wanted to do in this blog post – say thank you. Thanks to everyone who took the time to talk to us, read through the Policy and Implementation Guideline, and sent in their thoughts. You were invaluable to our work on this project and we want to make sure you know it!

Want to know more?

If you want to talk to us about your specific feedback, feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We’ve also prepared a brief de-identified document collating all the feedback together. Want a copy? Just let us know.

Got something else you want to talk to us about or have more to say on the Records Governance Policy or Implementation Guideline? Got something you want covered in a blog post? Leave a comment below or contact us by email, telephone or Twitter.

Government Recordkeeping

 

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