Author: Government recordkeeping


For some time, information management practitioners have been challenged by how to manage structured data over the long term. 

To help PROV and other information management specialists meet the structured data management challenge, PROV commissioned Recordkeeping Innovation Pty Ltd to prepare an Issues Paper (presented Dec 2012).  Barbara Reed who wrote this paper, made a number of recommendations. Over 2013, PROV commenced to deliver many of the recommendations.  Two recommendations resulted in substantial projects; one being the trialling of SIARD (see a separate post) the other a stocktake (survey) of databases across the VPS.  PROV commissioned Nous Group (Nadia Mecoli) to undertake the Stocktake project.  In addition we worked closely with the Digital Government Team in the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation to ensure that the report had reference to and value for the Victorian Governments ICT Strategy action items.


So what did the Stocktake find?

Rather than overwhelm you with detail or go through the entire recommendations and findings I’ll just give you “the vibe of the thing”:

“… operational management also generally addresses record management, the greatest risks arise when records are no longer operationally relevant but they have not reached the end of their record retention period. Typically this affects permanent and long term records. Making it easier for agencies to identify high value permanent and long term records is the first step in reducing these risks.[1]

The Report reinforces this view with the following diagram[2];

Diagram showing relationship between risk and value

What does this mean?

A few things are important from this:

  1. Agencies don’t usually rate/prioritise long term preservation.  This is not just for records of enduring (archival/permanent) value its even for records that continue to have operational value.
  2. The risk gap opens before systems are being retired (although that is clearly a critical time).
  3. Agencies (and Archives) desperately need tools and policies that help identify what has value.  Such tools have to be measurable and applicable to a wide range of users not just archivists and records managers

Lastly while the challenge of effective information management is daunting keep in mind the need for effective organisation and planning “There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organization. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organized along the lines of the Mafia.[3]

If you have any questions or would like to pursue this further don’t hesitate to contact David Brown or Andrew Waugh at PROV.


[1] p7 Final report - Stocktake of Victorian Government Databases February 2014 Nous Group
[2] p15 Ibid
[3] Kurt Vonnegut