Author: Government recordkeeping

PROV is pleased to announce the issue of our Data and Recordkeeping Policy and Data Topic Page.

The Data and Recordkeeping Policy was designed to address questions regarding how data and records are related, including legal obligations regarding the creation, capture, management, retention and disposal of data.

This policy clarifies that data is included in the definition of record under the Public Records Act 1973 (the Act), and therefore must be managed in accordance with PROV Standards, as issued by the Keeper of Public Records at PROV.

Policy directives cover the following:

  • that management of data includes the creation, capture and control of data, access to data, storage of data and disposal of data (including metadata)
  • that data may only need to be kept for a short period of time, may need to be retained for longer than the lifespan of the system, or may need to be retained permanently. Retention periods are set in the mandatory and applicable Retention and Disposal Authority, issued by the Keeper of Public Records
  • Disposal of data, as with disposal of records, must be authorised by the Keeper of Public Records, lawfully and in accordance with the relevant disposal instrument.

Public offices should apply the terms of the Data and Recordkeeping Policy in line with the PROV Value and Risk Policy, the Recordkeeping Standards and Retention and Disposal Authorities.

The Data topic page provides some clarification on data and recordkeeping, including:

  • the difference between something that is technically a record and something that is a good record as specified by PROV Standards
  • metadata schemes for recordkeeping, including the minimum metadata required for a record
  • preservation, including the Victorian Electronic Records Strategy (VERS) and the Software Independent Archiving of Relational Databases (SIARD) format
  • obtaining authorisation for deletion/destruction of data, including retention and disposal authorities and use of normal administrative practice (NAP) in relation to minor updates of content (such as those in databases which will not be needed to show actions, decisions or approvals)
  • where to go for information on access, including sharing and exchange.

Please note that the US methods for managing records are different to those practiced across Australasia. One key difference is that in Victoria, records exist from the moment of their creation or receipt/capture and must be managed from that point onwards. They are not declared at a later point in time. If a record is received by a public office, it is in that public office's custody. It does not matter who 'owns' the record. The public office that has custody of the record must manage the record lawfully for the duration of its retention period, as specified by a relevant retention and disposal authority, and then dispose of it in an authorised and lawful manner.

Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples