QSA has had a few queries about how best to manage mayor’s and councillors’ diaries, particularly electronic ones, and since there is a Local Government election coming soon it’s a good time to cover this particular topic.
Do we need to keep the electronic calendar of past local government mayor’s and/or councillors? How long do we need to keep them for? Also, is there a recommended format for keeping an electronic calendar for this purpose?
With regards to recordkeeping requirements, the work diaries of Mayors and Councillors are public records under the Public Records Act 2002.
Here’s a quick overview of how long to keep them:
|Description of record||Status||Disposal Action|
|Diaries – Mayors||Permanent||Retain permanently|
|Diaries – Councillors||Temporary||Retain for 7 years after last action|
For more information: Local Government Sector Retention and Disposal Schedule (QDAN 480 v.4
In relation to storage and the best format to use, we recommend that where possible, open file formats rather than proprietary formats and applications are used – this will help to ensure the records remain accessible in the long term.
If you wish to just store the electronic diary you can export from Outlook to ICS format. This is preferable to using PST (personal storage table) format since ICS is more universal and can be opened in other software tools apart from Microsoft Outlook. In a worst-case scenario, you can read ICS files without appropriate software. Whilst you can use PST format, this will require Outlook or some other software that supports it, since it is proprietary.
If you need any technical support or specific advice for managing Outlook calendars and how to export them in a suitable format, talk to your internal IT team.
The below is advice about preserving digital records, and how best to manage mayor and councillors’ diaries:
- Diaries of mayors and councillors
- File formats for long-term digital records
- Digital records, storage media and systems
- Preserving records
- Dear diary blog post.