Overview of recordkeeping for public authorities

As a public authority, you must make and keep complete and reliable records of your activities.

1. Why is records governance important?

Records governance is how your agency approaches the management of records to meet your business needs and achieve your strategic goals.

Strong records governance results in:

  • improved transparency and accountability
  • effective policy formation
  • informed decision-making
  • management of business risks
  • continuity in the event of disaster
  • the protection of rights and obligations of organisations and individuals
  • protection and support in litigation
  • compliance with legislation and regulations
  • improved ability to demonstrate corporate responsibility, including meeting sustainability goals
  • reduction of costs through greater business efficiency
  • protection of intellectual property
  • evidence-based research and development activities
  • the formation of business, personal and cultural identity, and
  • the protection of corporate, personal and collective memory.

2. Records Governance Policy

The Records Governance Policy is a fit-for-purpose records and information governance policy that recognises the diversity of Queensland Government agencies with a flexible and simplified approach to records management.

It aims to support Queensland government agencies on their path to digital recordkeeping maturity and lift records management capability.

The policy has 6 requirements.

Find out more about the policy.

3. Public Records Act 2002

The Public Records Act 2002 governs recordkeeping for all Queensland public authorities.

The Act aims to ensure the public records of Queensland are made, managed, kept, and, if appropriate, preserved in a usable form for the benefit of present and future generations.

The Act defines both a public authority and a public record. It also includes specific recordkeeping requirements that all agencies must comply with, specifically:

  • what records need to be kept, by who, and why
  • who is responsible for records
  • how records should be created and managed
  • when records can be disposed of
  • who authorises disposal of records.

Find out more about the Public Records Act 2002 and your legislative obligations.

4. Public authority

A public authority is a government agency or organisation defined as a public authority under Schedule 2 of the Public Records Act 2002. This includes:

  • Ministers and Assistant Ministers
  • Departments
  • the Governor
  • the Executive Council
  • organisations created by the Governor, a Minister or through legislation
  • commissions of inquiry
  • government owned corporations
  • entities established by the State and a local government
  • officers of the court
  • a rail government entity under the Transport Infrastructure Act 1994
  • local governments.

Subsidiaries of a public authority, service providers, and non-government organisations carrying out services on behalf of the government are not normally considered public authorities unless they fall under one of the categories in the Act (e.g. an organisation created by an Act). However, the recordkeeping requirements should still apply to those organisations through contractual arrangements with public authorities. Find out more about recordkeeping responsibilities when outsourcing

5. Public records

A public record includes any form of recorded information, created or received by, or created on behalf of a Queensland public authority in the transaction of government business.

A ministerial record includes any form of recorded information, created or received by, or created on behalf of a Minister in the course of carrying out Ministerial portfolio responsibilities, but does not include:

  • a record related to personal or party-political activities
  • a record held in their capacity as a member of the Legislative Assembly.

Find out what records you need to capture and how.

6. Responsibility for records

Public authorities are responsible for making, managing, keeping and preserving complete and reliable public records. This includes the management of records:

  • you have created or received in the course of your normal business
  • inherited or transferred to you as part of a machinery-of-government change or as specified in legislation
  • created or received on your behalf (e.g. when outsourcing functions).

The executive officer of a public authority must ensure their authority complies with responsibilities under the Public Records Act 2002.

You must have regard to any relevant policy, standards and guidelines made by the archivist about the making and keeping of public records when managing your obligations under the Public Records Act 2002. This includes the Records Governance Policy.

Records need to:

  • be stored appropriately
  • have preservation measures applied so that they stay accessible and usable
  • remain accessible and useable
  • be kept safe and secure until you’re legally able to destroy or transfer them to QSA.

Public records must be kept for the appropriate retention periods  listed in the current authorised retention and disposal schedule.

Find out about custody, ownership and responsibility for records during machinery-of-government and administrative change.

7. Disposal of records

Public records cannot be disposed of without authorisation.

Disposal includes destroying, transferring, selling, donating, abandoning, damaging or amending a record.

Authorisation for the destruction or transfer of records is given through retention and disposal schedules approved by the State Archivist. 

Records cannot be destroyed if they are required as evidence for legal proceedings, under a disposal freeze or subject to a right-to-information request.

Any disposal of public records must be also be endorsed by your CEO or authorised delegate.

Records with a permanent retention period in a current authorised retention and disposal schedule are to be transferred to Queensland State Archives when business need for those records has ceased.

The disposal of records must be documented.

8. Resources

Legislation and standards

Queensland State Archives resources