Background to the project
Emails are a vital part of doing business and are considered public records under the Public Records Act 1973. Emails enable exchange of ideas, enactment of decisions and support collaboration between an increasingly dispersed workforce. In government, some emails also provide evidence essential for accountability and should be preserved as public records into the future.
Since the late 1990’s, the Victorian Government (VG) has used the Lotus Notes (LN) email application as a principal communication medium both internally and externally. Key actions and decisions of public officers are captured in the email, it is a primary repository of VG records.
In its current proprietary format and accumulated (online and on Linear Tape-Open) storage volumes, access and retrieval of emails for the purpose of analysis and evidence of decisions can be difficult, expensive and time consuming. Meaning its value as an information source cannot be fully realised.
This compromises the VG’s reputation for transparency and accountability and poses a risk to current administration, as well as creates potential gap in the documented memory of Victoria.
About the project
Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) is undertaking a project to develop and test solutions to appropriately capture, store, appraise and dispose of LN email accumulations.
The project has been undertaken as a series of stages outlined below.
Stage 1: Proof of Concept (PoC)
For Stage 1, PROV undertook a PoC with CenITex during 2017/18 to test an eDiscovery tool on a sample set of 4.6 million LN emails from a VG Department.
The PoC focused on disposal outcomes and included the following tasks:
- an initial assessment to quantify and qualify a sample email data set
- identifying duplicates within the data set (we found that 43% were duplications)
- identifying low value/non-public records within the data set by analysing domain names
- a manual review of results to determine level of accuracy.
For more information about the PoC project outcomes, please download our proof of concept summary report.
Stage 2 of the project will be conducted during 2019/20 and will build on the Stage 1 findings.
For this stage, PROV will use a collection of our own LN emails (approx. 1.2 million emails) and will explore a number of tasks including: email format conversion, de-duplication, threading, approaches for identifying non-public records and records of value, as well as converting emails into VERS Encapsulated Objects (VEOs).
Outcomes of this project will be published during late 2020.