The National Archives of Australia (NAA), in unison with the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is spreading the gospel about electronic record-keeping across the Federal Government, and some of Canberra’s biggest agencies are taking notice.
The NAA has been appointed the lead agency driving the Federal Government’s Digital Transition Policy. Launched in July 2011, the policy aims to replace paper based systems right across the Government with digital recordkeeping processes.
Rather than setting enforceable deadlines for delivery, the NAA is touting the benefits to service delivery and budget bottom-lines that a digital environment offers agencies.
“The benefits of digital records management include savings of millions of dollars in reduced storage costs,” NAA Director-General David Fricker told agency representatives at the launch of the NAA’s Digital Continuity Plan guide paper on 13 March 2012.
“A survey conducted by Archives in 2010 showed that by 2014, the total volume of electronic records which agencies expect to create will be more than 10.7 million gigabytes - and that’s just the new records, not the overall amount of information that needs to be managed.”
“This explosion in information means traditional paper storage of records is simply not an option,” he said.
Margaret Chalker, the Assistant Director-General of Government Information Management at the NAA, told Intermedium that to date almost 60 per cent of Federal agencies are already digitising their records or have plans to do so within the next two-years.
Chalker adds that the policy does not necessarily require agencies to adopt an Electronic Document Records Management System (EDRMS), as other solutions may be more appropriate to their specific situation.
“The very small agencies in particular would not have the resources to implement or manage an EDRMS and it may not suit all agencies for other reasons,” she said.
However, adoption of an EDRMS seems to be the most attractive option to many Federal agencies facing the need to manage and retrieve a large volume of digital material.
In 2010-11, just under $15 million worth of EDRMS-related contracts were signed by Federal Government agencies.
Contracting patterns at the Department of Defence suggest that a big effort to digitise records is underway.
Since July 2009, Defence has signed no less than 107 contracts with DataFlex for the purchase of scanners, with a total value of $4.3 million. It also entered into $8.8 million contract with EDRMS leader Objective Corporation back in July 2010.
More recently, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) also made a significant investment into its records management, signing a $5.1 million contract with Objective for the provision of an EDRMS in December 2011.
The Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA), along with 15 other agencies within the Health portfolio, has launched an EDRMS Project and has approached the market to select a vendor capable of supplying ongoing support for its TRIM systems for a period of up to four years.
The EDRMS project will focus upon upgrading and migrating to HP TRIM 7.1, from its current TRIM 6.1 version. The contract is due to commence on 1 July 2012, just as a two-and-a-half month trial of the new EDRMS draws to a close. The roll-out will commence on 9 July and continue through until 23 November 2012.
Kapish Services has already been contracted as the supplier of TRIM add-on products, implementation and support services for the EDRMS project.
According to Sentio Consulting’s EDRMS Consultant, Kim James, the Digital Transition policy is responsible for stirring up much of the EDRMS interest in Canberra, especially in response to the annual record management assessments that the NAA is conducting.
“There is not a Secretary in Canberra that wouldn’t want to be able to report an improvement against this policy to the NAA.
“The Digital Transition Policy has certainly given EDRMS a big profile boost,” she said.
This boost is apparent amongst the Annual Procurement Plans that agencies publish on AusTender. According to Intermedium’s ScoutIT tool, ten Federal agencies, including Austrade and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), have listed their intentions to approach the market for an EDRMS solution in 2011-12. The Attorney-General’s Department and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority have already approached the market for their respective procurements, with tenders still open in the latter instance.
Traditionally Objective and Hewlett-Packard, which acquired Tower Software and thus the TRIM product in 2008, have dominated the EDRMS market.
However James says she has observed a growing tendency in the market to look towards Microsoft SharePoint to fulfil many of the same functions, and this is increasing demand for products that will integrate into the SharePoint suite.
Intermedium has identified just over $2.6 million worth of SharePoint contracts signed since 1 July 2010, but acknowledges that a great deal of SharePoint procurements are likely to have taken place through the whole-of-government Microsoft Volume Sourcing Agreement (VSA), under a generic description such as ‘Microsoft Licences’. Thus it is impossible to accurately gauge the full extent of this procurement.