Get started with records management

The Public Records Act 2002 sets the requirements for how we manage work-related information, data and records in the Queensland Government.

There are three basic steps you should consider:

  1. Make a record
  2. Use a record
  3. Delete a record

The value of the information, data and records you work with and use today cannot always be realised until well into the future, so remember the following steps to establish effective practices.

Making a record is the process of creating something that can last and be used over time, however only certain information and data is required to be turned into a government record in Queensland.

You are required to make complete and reliable accounts of all your work-related duties that contribute towards your agencies' transactions, activities and decisions, including:

  • a decision made
  • an action undertaken when a recommendation, advice or instruction is given or received
  • the explanation or evidence supporting a decision or action undertaken.

Content not format is important

A key thing to understand is that the format of the information doesn’t make it a government record, the content does.

Business information includes emails sent and received, tweets posted, photos taken, reports, spreadsheets and presentations.

For example, a project approval is a record regardless of whether it is in the form of a signed memo, an email, or a text message.

Some of the information and data you work with is captured automatically through the business applications and systems you use. In some instances, you will need do more with the information and data to turn into a government record.

In these situations, make sure you include:

  • a short description
  • date and time
  • decisions or recommendations made
  • advice or instructions given
  • actions taken
  • rationale
  • people involved.

The information and data we create should be placed somewhere so it can be used by the business when required.

This means storing the information:

  • somewhere that is easily accessible whether the information is digital or physical form
  • with appropriate levels of security and protection
  • and it is easily found (through metadata) by other users.

The approach and tools that you and your agency use will vary depending on your business systems and processes – and that's okay.

The key requirement for all agencies is that the information is easily accessed.

Sam is working on Project X and provides two options to proceed. They email their manager with the options to seek a decision and approval to proceed.

The manager replies to Sam’s email approving option 1.

Sam takes that email, the email they sent and the information provided to explain option 1 and option 2 and saves them in a dedicated location for the project.

There are different types of recordkeeping systems and applications your agency may choose to use to manage and locate captured records including:

  • electronic document and records management system, also known as eDRMS that combines document management and digital recordkeeping
  • collaborative applications such as SharePoint and Teams that can enable both workplace collaboration and recordkeeping practice
  • shared network drives
  • paper based system where all documents are printed and physically filed.

There are various resources available to help with implementing best practice in storing and managing information.

Some records can be deleted once they've been used, but others must be kept for longer—this is known as the retention and disposal period.

In most cases the information and data we make and use during our working day isn't of permanent value can be deleted after its retention period has expired.

It's important that we proactively manage the deletion of records from our systems and storage arrangements:

  • to reduce costs and improve our budget by reducing items being stored
  • ensure that risk is managed by the removal of old data and information
  • more efficient businesses systems and processes.

You do need to demonstrate why you deleted information. That's why there are tools and processes, such as Retention & Disposal Schedules, that sets out when we can lawfully get rid of government information.

These schedules are comprehensive but very technical and you should check with your relevant business area before commencing with deleting information.

For more information check your agency's retention and disposal schedule.