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Machinery of Government changes: A guide

Key message

Information held by agencies is a valuable national resource.

Records are a core strategic asset. The proper treatment of all forms of records is a key consideration in a MoG change.

1. Agencies are expected to implement change in a way that is consistent with the principles outlined in the Executive Summary.

Movement of records

2. As a general principle records follow function. One exception would be where a function moves into the private sector and the associated records must by law remain in the custody of the Commonwealth.

3. Decisions about the transfer of records must be recorded in the records management systems of both the losing and the gaining agencies.

4. Records must be retained in accordance with the Archives Act 1983 and the Evidence Act 1995.

National Archives of Australia

5. Information on how to transfer records is available on the National Archives website

6. Questions about records management matters following a Machinery of Government (MoG) change may also be referred to National Archives' Agency Service Centre.

7. As soon as practicable, agencies are expected to advise the National Archives on how functions have been re-allocated so that:

  • administrative histories and metadata maintained by the National Archives can be updated
  • the agency responsible for controlling records in Archives' custody can be updated
  • records authorities can be re-attributed to gaining agencies as necessary.

Managing the transfer

8. Deciding on what is to happen to agency information, records, data and records management systems is a key component of due diligence. See Planning and due diligence.

9. The losing agency needs to transfer to the gaining agency:

  • records held in physical form, together with the systems that control such records, such as databases, spreadsheets and records management systems
  • records held in digital form which means identifying appropriate mechanisms for exporting records from the losing agency's systems and importing them into the gaining agency's systems
  • information held on the internet—this may need to be captured, archived or transferred
  • personnel records such as attendance records, medical certificates and leave forms.

10. Agencies must consider the implications for privacy, freedom of information (FOI), and the Information Publication Scheme. Further information is available from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

11. Information about the Digital Service Standard, including requirements for the archiving of websites, is available from the Digital Transformation Agency.

12. Information that is not published on agency websites and that may be required for FOI and open public sector information purposes must be retained and appropriately stored.

FOI requests

13. Agencies may find that they receive FOI requests that must be transferred between agencies. Further information is available from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.