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Memento : Issue 22
When records are sentenced, how long do they get? In recordkeeping terms, a sentence refers to how long records need to be kept under an approved disposal authority. How long a particular record is kept depends on its disposal class. For example, copies of readily available information or records of short-term transactions may have a disposal sentence of 'destroy when reference ceases', whereas the disposal sentence for records documenting an individual's entitlements, which may pass to their children, might be 'keep for 130 years after date of birth'. A sentence is usually based on an agency's business needs as well as the needs of other stakeholders, such as members of the public or organisations with which an agency deals. In authorising disposal, our role is to ensure that all relevant stakeholders' needs for records have been considered and are reflected in the disposal sentence. Agencies must strictly observe these sentences. Under the Archives Act, individuals who dispose of records before the nominated time has elapsed can be heavily fined. I can be anything that contains information, such as a film, photograph, map, document or publication. I can be electronic, web-based, printed or handwritten on paper. I am usually created or received by a Commonwealth government agency in the course of that agency's business. I am a Commonwealth record. This means I belong to the Common- wealth or a Commonwealth agency. The Archives Act allows the public to see me when I am 30 years old and protects me from being disposed of without the proper authority. I am not a Commonwealth record if I am the personal proper ty of an individual or belong to a non-Commonwealth organisation. If you are not sure, ask yourself: Was I created by a Commonwealth agency or official in the course of business? Was I provided or received by a Commonwealth agency or official in the course of business, with no explicit conditions to return me? If you answer no to both of these questions, I am probably not a Commonwealth record. If you are still not sure, check with the Archives. And remember, if I don't belong to your agency you should return me to my owner or seek their advice about my disposal. bytes Doing time What am I? We wish to thank the 100 Commonwealth agencies and 1500 record creators who participated in our 2002 survey of Commonwealth government recordkeeping. The information provided will enable us to identify ways that we can help Commonwealth agencies and staff to improve their recordkeeping, and to measure progress towards best practice recordkeeping in the Commonwealth government. Some results from the survey are: Less than half of record creators surveyed found the filing of electronic records easy and even fewer found locating and getting them easy. While 87% of record creators reported that their electronic files were located on their computer network or a shared drive, only 49% reported that they were also located in their agency's recordkeeping system. Only 6% of agencies reported that they captured all unstructured electronic records into electronic recordkeeping systems. This is only a fraction of the information we collected. For the full report, visit the recordkeeping section of our website at www.naa.gov.au. What did you say? memento january 2003 6