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What is a Machinery of Government (MoG) change?

A Machinery of Government (MoG) change occurs when government decides to change the way government responsibilities are managed. This can occur at any time but often occurs after an election.

A MoG change can involve the movement of function and responsibilities from:

  • A Victorian Public Sector (VPS) entity to another VPS entity
  • A VPS entity to a non-VPS entity (e.g. to the private sector or to the Commonwealth government)
  • A non-VPS entity to a VPS entity.

When this occurs, the impacted entities will need to work together to plan and implement arrangements for staff, assets and resources. Records are a critical asset and proper arrangements need to be made for them.


What needs to happen to the records?

When a MoG change occurs, all digital and physical records relating to the function being moved will need to be identified. Records include those held in different systems, as online content, and in storage - both digital and physical. Non-current records, such as those held in legacy systems, need to be identified also. Note that a public record is all information/data created or received while carrying out the work of a public office.

PROS 23/01 Strategic Management Standard sets out the mandatory recordkeeping requirements for Victorian public offices undergoing MoG changes.

The general principle is that records, and responsibility for them, must follow the function so the receiving entity can continue to administer the function and access all records. This means that all records, current and non-current, with as much supporting information as possible (including metadata), must be included in the scope of work for transfer to the receiving entity.

When a function is being moved to a non-government entity, the original public records created prior to that move must remain with the responsible public office. If the non-government entity taking responsibility for the function requires access to those public records, an information sharing arrangement can be made or a duplicate copy of public records can be provided. See further guidance on recordkeeping and privatisation

When a function is being moved to a government entity outside of Victoria, the responsible VPS entity and the government entity taking responsibility for the function must assess their need for the public records, created up to that point. If it is determined that the original public records should be moved with the function, approval must be given by the Keeper of Public Records.


Critical considerations

The senior person in each entity who has responsibility for records management will need to be involved in the planning and oversight of arrangements for the records. It is important to ensure that sufficient resources are obtained so that effective arrangements can be made. External expertise may be required to undertake the migration of records between systems.

The Department of Treasury and Finance has published a Machinery of Government Manual - this includes a section on managing records. It also provides a template for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for use by the public offices.

It is critical that: 

  • The entity relinquishing the function and the entity receiving the function can access the information they need to operate effectively and meet their obligations
  • Care is taken to ensure that full records, including metadata and contextual information, is successfully exported from the systems of the relinquishing entity and imported into the systems of the receiving entity, so they can be identified, retrieved, read and understood in the future
  • To preserve the provenance of records, metadata created by the relinquishing entity should remain linked to the records and labelled as such
  • Records are retained for their minimum required retention period, with permanent value records transferred to PROV at the appropriate time. 

PROV must be informed of any changes to functional responsibilities - contact us to discuss your situation.

MoG changes and recordkeeping

Start by identifying the records which relate to the function being moved.

There can be a misconception that records are only held in dedicated recordkeeping systems (EDRMS), in the Office 365 applications/services or in shared drives. It must be understood that a public record is all information/data created or received while carrying out the work of a public office. This includes information/data/records held:

  • in organisational systems, including any legacy systems which are being maintained because the records are not ready for lawful destruction
  • as online content (websites, social media etc.)
  • in collaboration or communication spaces/systems (emails, messaging, MS Teams etc.)
  • in storage (digital or physical), whether managed by the entity itself or by a commercial provider; and
  • any permanent value records held by PROV.

If some functions have been outsourced to a third-party provider (i.e. commercial or non-profit) you will need to determine whether any of the records they are creating or receiving on behalf of government need to be moved with the function being moved.

Current records are those which are regularly used to perform functions and operations. 

The current records relating to the function being moved, with as much supporting information as possible, must be moved in an accessible and useable format, agreed to by all parties. The metadata created by the relinquishing entity must remain linked to the records. The PROV Minimum Metadata Specification and Long-Term Sustainable Formats Specification may be of use.

Moving current records will generally involve migrating records from one system to another. Tasks may include the conversion of records into different formats and mapping existing metadata across to the receiving system. External data migration expertise and services may be required.

In the rare case that the relinquishing entity will require access to the records on a continuing basis, arrangements for sharing access to the records can be made or a duplicate provided.

If it is decided to digitise some of the records (possibly because both the relinquishing entity and receiving entity require a copy), it is recommended that the requirements in the PROV Digitisation Specification be met.

Particular care must be taken with those records containing personal or confidential information. Victorian public offices are obliged to hold, maintain and use personal information in accordance with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014. PROV also provides guidance, developed in consultation with the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC), on meeting privacy and recordkeeping obligations.

Non-current records are those which are no longer needed to perform current functions and operations. They might still be needed occasionally, but this is not regular or anticipated. For example, they might be required for future Freedom of Information applications, contractual disputes, legal proceedings, Royal Commissions or redress schemes.

Non-current records are likely to be held in a variety of locations. For example:

  • Non-current digital records may be held in tiered or offline storage arrangements, including on storage media such as tapes
  • Non-current digital records may be held in legacy systems, which are being maintained as the data/information is not yet ready for lawful destruction
  • Non-current physical records may be held by staff or in storage spaces across the public office sites or in commercial storage facilities (APROSS)
  • Permanent value non-current records (digital or physical) may have been transferred to PROV.

The general rule is that responsibility for non-current records should be moved with the function, but this will depend on the needs of the two entities. For example, it may be decided that some or all non-current records will remain with the relinquishing entity which created them. If this occurs, it is likely that the entity receiving the function will need occasional access to the records. Where it is anticipated that both entities may need future access to information contained in non-current records, an agreement for sharing information should be made. 

When non-current records are moved with the function, their minimum required retention period should be assigned before the move. In cases where this is not practicable, the involved entities should plan for this to occur as soon as possible and arrange any resourcing required. 

Where there is no current Retention and Disposal Authority (RDA), disposal authorisation must be obtained from the Keeper of Public Records - contact us for advice.

A MoG change can be a good opportunity to undertake records disposal. This can include:

  • destroying records which are time-expired under the appropriate RDA
  • transferring permanent value records (digital and physical) that are no longer needed for administrative purposes to PROV for ongoing preservation.

Agreements must be made with PROV if there are plans for non-current records identified as having permanent value to be transferred to it. Contact PROV as soon as possible to discuss this - work MUST NOT commence on record transfer before an agreement is made with PROV. Note: when held at PROV, the public office which has responsibility for the records can receive them back temporarily if needed.

If records are held in commercial storage, such as an APROSS for physical records or a cloud provider for digital records, the company will need to be informed about any changes to responsibility for the records and given the contact details of staff who are authorised to access them. It may be that non-current records will need to be moved from one storage provider to another - this may take some time and will involve costs so should be organised and agreed upon as soon as possible.

Where permanent value records of the function have previously been transferred to PROV, the relinquishing public office must notify PROV of the change of responsibility for the function being moved. These records will remain at PROV but the responsibly agency will be updated.

Staff of the receiving public office who will be authorised to access/order permanent value records at PROV will need government user accounts to be created for them - see PROV instructions on ordering and collecting records for government users.

Ensuring that the full records, with required metadata, have been successfully transferred and are accessible and usable is crucial, irrespective of whether the transfer involves original records or copies. No destruction or system decommissioning should take place until it has been verified that all records, with metadata, have been received and are identifiable, retrievable, readable and useable. Successful receipt should be acknowledged be senior officers and a record of this kept. 

The public offices involved must ensure they keep a record outlining, at a high level, the record collections transferred. This should include details of any arrangements made for enabling the entities involved to access records if needed in the future. 

The public offices involved must ensure that PROV is informed of any changes to functional responsibilities. This is particularly important in cases where permanent records have previously been transferred to PROV. Contact us to discuss your situation.

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