Author: Government recordkeeping

Greater emphasis and investment in information management within agencies is critical to avoiding waste and loss of public confidence.

Earlier this year Public Record Office Victoria, in conjunction with Landell, completed a review of the compliance of Victorian Government agencies with their records management obligations prescribed by the Public Records Act (1973).  

David Brown, Assistant Director Government Services, explained “Over the years PROV has observed a significant trend of recordkeeping non-compliance within Government departments, agencies and other Victorian public bodies in our jurisdiction. We commissioned Landell to help investigate if this non-compliance is systematic and what, if any patterns could be determined regarding instances of non-compliance that had been identified.”

The Review examined the 224 reports published by Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) and the Victorian Ombudsman (VO) between 2010 and 2014. Records management failures were identified in over half of them. It found that rather than being isolated incidents, records management failures are systemic, chronic and pervasive.

VO reports aim to investigate situations where some form of ‘wrong-doing’ or administrative failure has occurred, or was thought to have occurred. It was therefore expected that some records management failures would be identified in the VO reports. In contrast, it was anticipated that the VAGO audit reports would identify records management failures to a lesser extent, as VAGO audits evaluate government agency performance. However this was not the case. The consistent appearance of records management failures across both sets of reports supports the conclusion that this is a systemic issue, rather than the result of multiple ‘one-off’ events.

It is clear from this Review that:

  • there is a pattern of systematic and ongoing records management failures within Victorian Government departments and agencies
  • the records management failures hinder investigation by VAGO or VO
  • over the five years considered, at least 54% of reports included some form of records management failure or concern. This figure reached as high as 84% in the most recent year considered (2014)
  • almost all Departments appeared more than once over the entire period of review
  • Victorian Governments give insufficient regard to the value of information throughout its entire life. This devaluation reduces accountability, lowers public respect, increases costs and lowers productivity.

The review concluded that record keeping failures are an extensive and ongoing concern for Victorian Government departments and agencies.

The report is now available on the Landell website.

If you want to know more about the review, contact us.