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Manage records during machinery-of-government changes

Most government agencies will be affected by a machinery-of-government (MOG) or administrative change.

The recordkeeping implications and issues you need to consider will vary depending on the type of change.

Regardless of the type of change, remember that:

  • all public records are owned either by the state or local government
  • records must continue to be created, managed, accessible, and retained for as long as required–before, during and after the MOG
  • records cannot be sold, given or transferred to a private organisation or other jurisdiction without authorisation
  • responsibility for managing records and their ongoing custody may change.

Find out about the different types of MOG changes and what you need to do.

1. Amalgamation / merger

What you need to know

Amalgamations are usually a combination of other types of MOG changes. They include the closure of one or more agencies and the transfer of:

  • all functions to a new or existing agency
  • some functions to a new or existing agency
  • some or all functions to multiple agencies OR
  • some functions from multiple agencies to a new agency.

See also transfer of functions for functions being transferred to a new agency where the original agencies are not closing.

See also closure of a public authority for amalgamations where the original agency is closing.

See examples of amalgamations.

What you need to do

You should:

  • consider and address recordkeeping processes early in the process–it will require due consideration, planning, governance and decision making from management
  • make sure senior management understand the implications, complexity and decision-making that will be required.

Your agency should form an implementation team to focus on the transition and consider recordkeeping, IT and logistics issues.

What you need to think about

A merger will mean multiple agencies will bring their own information and recordkeeping practices to the new agency. You will need to:

  • treat the recordkeeping transition as a separate project to the merger as a whole
  • review your existing recordkeeping processes and establish new ones for the new merged agency
  • close existing files before the merger to establish a clear delineation between your agency and the new, merged agency–new files can be created and linked to the closed files to maintain the history of the records
  • reach an agreement about how records should be transferred, managed, and accessed, as well how custody arrangements or responsibilities will be addressed
  • use the sample records transfer list template (XLS, 59 KB) to help you identify and list your records, and provide this to the other agencies
  • document any actions involving records, including migration, moving, sentencing, transfer or destruction
  • transfer permanent archival value records to QSA where possible.

What to do post-amalgamation/merger

Check that new recordkeeping processes and systems are controlling and managing all the records of the new entity.

Make sure that records were transferred correctly and are still findable, accessible and useable–particularly migrated digital records.

Contact QSA if you need to review or reissue retention and disposal schedules or check what schedule(s) you can use post-merger.

2. Closure of a public authority

What you need to know

The closure of a public authority will usually involve more than one type of MOG change.

If the functions are:

  • not going to continue, manage it as both a closure of a public authority and ceasing functions
  • to be continued by another public authority, manage the change as both a closure of a public authority and a transfer of functions
  • to be continued by a private entity, manage the change as both a closure of a public authority and a privatisation.

When an agency closes, there will need to be a successor public authority to take on responsibility and custody of the records. The successor may be identified in the legislation or legal instrument enabling the closure.

If the successor is not identified by legislation or legal instrument, you will need a regulation under the Public Records Act 2002 to identify which agency will have custody of and ongoing responsibility for the records.

Find out how to identify a successor public authority and what they need to know and do.

What you need to do

You will need to:

  • close existing files beforehand
  • reach an agreement about how all records should be transferred, managed, and accessed
  • provide a list of records (XLS, 59 KB) to be transferred to the successor authority/receiving organisation
  • document the transfer of the records, including retention and disposal actions
  • transfer permanent archival value records to QSA where possible.

What you need to think about

Your agency and the successor may have different information and recordkeeping practices. Consider:

  • treating the recordkeeping transition as a separate project to the merger as a whole
  • assessing recordkeeping implications in the planning stages–it may require planning, governance and decision making from management
  • reviewing the existing recordkeeping processes of both agencies to make the transfer process easier.

Make sure the successor/receiving public authority is involved in the planning stages. You will need to consult the IT sections of both agencies to ensure IT issues are identified early, and that digital records and systems are migrated correctly.

3. Ceasing functions

What you need to know

When your agency stops one of more of its functions, it continues to be responsible for the records of that function. They become legacy records.

If functions are to be continued by a private organisation, this should be managed as a privatisation.

If functions cease when an agency closes, this should be managed as a closure of a public authority.

What you need to do

You will need to:

  • identify the core records that document the function involved
  • close the records and make a note of the change in the metadata–this is part of documenting the history of the record
  • ensure that the records continue to be actively managedaccessible and preserved for their full retention period
  • destroy any temporary records that have reached their minimum retention period
  • transfer your permanent archival value records to QSA
  • store records or send them to secondary or offsite storage until they can either be transferred to QSA or destroyed when their retention period has been met
  • update your business systems, tools, databases and the associated metadata to document that the function has ceased and that no new records will be created.

You may need to review your core retention and disposal schedule if the legacy records are not covered.

4. Outsourcing

What you need to know

When outsourcing core and administrative functions (e.g. recordkeeping, IT, finance, software-as-a-service arrangements), your agency is responsible for records the service provider creates that relate to that function.

Outsourcing may be with private organisations, shared service providers or other government agencies.

Outsourcing includes public private partnerships and cloud based services and storage.

It does not include the privatisation of functions or providing a grant.

What you need to do

You need to make sure:

  • the service provider creates and keeps full and accurate records of the activities they perform on behalf of your agency
  • the service provider is aware of their responsibilities to create and keep records documenting the function
  • records are kept safe, preserved and returned to you at the end of the agreement unless lawfully destroyed.

What you need to think about

Check what recordkeeping responsibilities and requirements are associated with the function being outsourced (e.g. access restrictions, privacy, preservation) and what the service provider will need to do.

You can delegate responsibility to endorse the disposal or transfer of records to a position within the service provider.

The outsourcing agreement will need to apply to any records on loan to the service provider and any new records created during the outsourcing arrangement. Include specific responsibilities as well as recordkeeping and legislative requirements.

Consider how the service provider will access records in your agency’s custody.

Note: If you are supplying a copy of a record to a service provider, consider whether or not you need to remove any confidential or personal information, including from the metadata (e.g. author details). Information should only be removed from a copy of a record, not the original source record.

Find out about sentencing records managed by a shared service provider.

5. Privatisation

What you need to know

Privatisation can include functions being sold or transferred to an existing private organisation, or a new private entity created to take on government functions.

You need authorisation to sell or permanently transfer public records to the private organisation. The legislation enabling the change may contain this authorisation or the State Archivist may provide it.

Your agency remains responsible for records relating to functions:

  • temporarily transferred to the private organisation
  • that remain with your organisation
  • in the custody of QSA.

If an entire agency is privatised, a successor/responsible public authority will need to be identified to take on these responsibilities. See also closure of a public authority.

You will need to understand and agree on the ownership, custody and responsibility for records during privatisation.

Note: Privatisation does not include the outsourcing of functions to a private organisation.

Providing access to records

Consider what records the private organisation will need to continue business and how they will access them.

How records will be accessed or provided will depend on:

  • the function
  • the records involved (e.g. the value, retention period, volume)
  • how frequently they need to be accessed.

Include provisions for how, when, and where records will be accessed or provided in your agreement with the organisation.

There are 4 main options for providing records to a private organisation.

Note: Consider if the records contain any confidential or personal information (e.g. author details in record metadata) that may need to be removed beforehand. Information and metadata can only be removed from a copy of a record, not the original source record.

Lend

You can lend records to a private organisation for a specific period and under certain conditions, as set out in an agreement.

You will have all the same recordkeeping responsibilities as if they were still in your custody.

Include recordkeeping and legislative requirements and responsibilities in the agreement.

This option may be appropriate if records need to be accessed frequently, or if the private organisation wants to copy the records.

Sell or give

Public records have value to the state and due consideration should be taken before they are sold or given to the private sector.

They are usually only given or sold to a private organisation if they have been specifically included in the legislation enabling the sale.

Selling or giving away records is a form of disposal and must be authorised. This can be through legislation enabling the privatisation, other legal instrument or by authorisation by the State Archivist.

Make sure you no longer need the records or keep copies of records you may still need.

Copy

You or the private organisation can copy records that they need. This can be done either at the point of transition or on an as needs basis and will depend on the format and the amount of records involved.

Copying records allows the originals to be retained by your agency.

This option is appropriate for high-value records and/or ones with a long-term retention period.

Make available

You can make records available for a private organisation to access as and when required.

This is recommended for records that do not need to be accessed frequently and have to stay in state custody (e.g. permanent archival value records at QSA).

6. Transfer of functions

What you need to know

A transfer of functions can be a MOG change on its own or part of another change (e.g. closure of a public authority).

The transfer of functions will always include a successor/receiving public authority. They will need to be involved in the planning.

Under the Public Records Act 2002 (the Act), if a function or power of a public authority is transferred to another authority then the records of that function must also be given to the successor public authority. This means that where the function goes the records must also go.

Note: Responsibility for the records is transferred regardless of whether the records are physically transferred (e.g. records in off-site storage or at QSA).

No formal agreement is required to transfer records.

What you need to think about

Your agency and the successor will have different information, recordkeeping and storage practices.

You will need to think about:

  • how the records are stored
  • how they are to be transferred
  • the format they are in
  • if specific software, hardware or equipment is required to access the records
  • if business systems need to be split, merged or transferred to ensure that all records remain usable

Discuss potential challenges or considerations with the team leading the change.

If records cannot be transferred to the receiving agency, the records management may need to be outsourced to the original agency until they can be transferred or lawfully destroyed.

What you need to do

Carefully plan the transfer of records.

  • identify the records relating to the function that will need to be transferred
  • close the files to establish a clear delineation between your agency and the successor–new files can be created and linked to the closed files to maintain their history
  • provide a list of the records (XLS, 59 KB) to the successor/receiving agency
  • include everyone that needs to be involved in the planning stages (e.g. IT sections, business areas, recordkeeping teams)
  • ensure that everyone agrees on and understands how and when records are to be transferred
  • identify any potential IT related issues and requirements so records and systems are migrated correctly
  • review your existing recordkeeping processes and see what you can do to make the transfer easier
  • reach an agreement about how all records should be transferred, managed, and accessed
  • negotiate any custody arrangements or responsibilities for records if necessary
  • ensure the records remain accessible and usable both during and after the transfer
  • document the transfer of the records, including any retention and disposal actions
  • transfer permanent archival value records to QSA where possible.

What you need to do post-transfer

Update your business systems, tools, databases and the associated metadata to document that the function has been transferred and that no new records for that function will be created by your agency. Include details about which agency the records/function were transferred to.

Check with the receiving agency to make sure the records transferred correctly and are still accessible and useable, particularly if there were any digital records that needed to be migrated.

7. Successor / receiving public authority

The successor (or receiving) public authority is the authority:

  • taking on the function(s)
  • defined by legislation as the successor public authority OR
  • the public authority that has agreed to be responsible for the records.

Identifying the successor public authority

If it is a transfer of function, the successor will be the agency taking on the function.

For all other changes, the successor public authority may be identified in the legislation enabling the change.

If the successor has not been identified, the public authority best suited to take responsibility for the records will need to be determined.

This should be based on:

  • advice from Treasury, the Department of Premier and Cabinet, the parent department (if relevant) or QSA
  • other factors–if a degree of separation of powers and/or responsibilities needs to be maintained (such as between a regulator and a regulated public authority).

Once all parties agree on the new relevant/responsible public authority, a regulation under the Public Records Act 2002 needs to be organised to officially transfer responsibility for the records.

The successor takes on all the same responsibilities for these inherited records that they have for their own records. This happens as soon as the MOG change takes effect even if the regulation hasn’t been enacted yet.

What the successor authority needs to know

The successor public authority must be involved in the planning stages.

You will need to make sure you are prepared for the transfer of records, especially if you are taking on a function.

Talk to the different sections of your agency, particularly IT, to ensure that you are able to accept the records, that any business systems involved are migrated correctly and that all records remain usable after transfer.

You need to know:

  • what records are being transferred
  • what records are in storage (off-site/secondary etc.) that you will become responsible for
  • if you will become responsible for any permanent archival value records in the custody of QSA
  • what records you need in order to provide the function (if applicable)
  • who needs access to the records and any access or security restrictions that apply
  • if there is a retention and disposal schedule that you can use
  • what format the records are in and how they are stored (e.g. electronic, photographs, on a hard drive)
  • when and how the records are to be transferred
  • what business systems, eDRMS and/or records management software are used.

Use the sample data collection template for the management of public records (DOC, 376 KB) to assist both agencies during the change.

What to do post-transfer

Once the records have been transferred, you will need to:

  • make sure they were transferred successfully, particularly if digital records are involved
  • check that all records are all still usable, findable and accessible
  • update your recordkeeping systems and processes to include the transferred records (e.g. business systems, tools, databases, relevant metadata)
  • capture the transfer date and the original public authority in the metadata.

You may need to review or update your agency’s core retention and disposal schedules.

If the records are already covered by a schedule issued to the original agency, contact QSA to make sure you can use it.

8. Tools, forms and templates

Guidelines and advice

Tools and templates

The following tools can be used to help you through a MOG change: