The Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO) has just released a report into records management within Victorian public sector agencies. It found serious shortcomings in the record management by many agencies, and made some sweeping recommendations for improvements.
The report Records Management in the Victorian Public Sector, follows an investigation into whether agencies were managing records in accordance with the Public Records Act 1973, and whether the act was operating efficiently and effectively in facilitating sound records management in the public sector.
As part of the audit, around 100 agencies undertook a self-assessment of their records management frameworks against the VAGO framework.
The audit found that agencies did not have in place comprehensive frameworks to manage their records, and their recordkeeping practices did not reflect today’s business environment. Almost half of the agencies’ self-assessments considered that the standard of their records management required improvement. Twelve per cent considered their records management frameworks were unsatisfactory.
Specifically, the audit found:
- more needs to be done by senior management to promote and provide support for records management
- most agencies do not have a strategic approach to records management.
- specialist skills and experience are not normally found in the records management function within agencies
- the management of electronic records including email and websites poses a significant challenge for agencies, and most agencies have yet to implement systems that ensure their business records are captured and will be accessible in the long term
The Auditor’s review of the Act found that it requires review to bring it up-to-date with current conditions.
The investigation found that the Public Records Office of Victoria has made some significant achievements in facilitating records management, despite having limited resources. However, the report identified a need to adopt a more strategic approach to servicing the record management requirements of the public sector.
The Auditor made a number of significant recommendations including a review of the legislation, adoption of a more strategic approach to records management, improved procedures and guidelines, and a need to raise awareness and improve staff training in this area.