Legislative and regulatory compliance

Legislative and regulatory compliance

There are a number of pieces of whole of government legislation and regulation that provide for the management, preservation of and/or access to digital records.

The State Records Act, 1997 covers the requirements and responsibilities of State and Local Government in South Australia in the management of 'official' records. To meet the requirements of the Act, the Adequate Records Management Standard (PDF 518KB) establishes records management benchmarks for South Australian Government.

The key components of the standard are that records must be:

  • made and captured
  • disposed of systematically under proper authority
  • authentic and reliable
  • governed
  • accessible and useable for as long as they are required.

Legislative responsibilities

State Records of South Australia

State Records has a wide range of mandated responsibilities, including:

  • being the 'principal repository for official records that are no longer required for current administrative purposes'
  • preserving official records of enduring value regardless of format to ensure their security, integrity and authenticity
  • making disposal determinations for official records
  • providing public and agency access to official records in the custody of State Records
  • providing information and records management advice and assistance to agencies
  • issuing standards and promoting the observance of information and records management best practice by agencies

Agency Responsibilities

Every South Australian State and Local Government agency must:

  • ensure that the official records in its custody are maintained in good order and condition
  • 'dispose of official records systematically' when they are no are longer required in government and have no enduring value to South Australian citizens
  • transfer archival records into the custody of State Records

Benefits of effective management

By proactively managing digital information and records throughout the information spectrum, the following should occur:

  • information assets are managed as a government (corporate) resource
  • transparency and accountability is maintained
  • government is protected when faced with legal action

Benefits of effective digital information and records management are difficult to quantify precisely. However, there is emerging consensus, both within Australia and internationally, that organisations with good information and records management governance, processes and practices are more effective in:

  • conducting business in an orderly, efficient and accountable manner so that activities and decisions are transparent to stakeholders, particularly citizens and taxpayers
  • improving efficiency and productivity
  • leveraging information and making better decisions
  • facilitating easier and more timely access to required information
  • delivering services consistently and equitably
  • meeting obligations (legislative, regulatory, litigation and contractual)
  • protecting the integrity and availability of business critical information thereby providing continuity of operations in an emergency or disaster
  • preserving corporate history and memory
  • reducing the use and dependency on paper leading to environmental savings

Risks of ineffective management

The consequences of ineffectively managing digital information and records are well documented and can be financially quantified. These include:

  • loss of productivity due to the inability to discover/retrieve and productively use business critical information on a daily or ad-hoc basis
  • loss of strategic opportunities due to the inability to recognise or leverage valuable information. For instance an organisation might inadvertently destroy technical engineering documents that are costly to recreate
  • increased costs of doing business due to inefficiencies related to disparate or inaccessible data. For instance the inability of an organisation to provide drawings, documents, wiring diagrams, plant dossiers etc
  • inability to comply with:
    • court orders - for instance the inability to produce a document that was later found elsewhere might be viewed as non-disclosure by the court
    • requests by investigative authorities (Auditor-General, Police) for access to information
    • government inquiries - a number of South Australian agencies spent significant time and money to discover documents for the South Australian Government Children in State Care Inquiry
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