Strategic framework

Version: 4
Date: 19 March 2010
Status: Final
Approved: Yes
Audience: ADRI members and the general public



A number of national and international standards exist that are utilised or referenced by archives and records authorities and government agencies in making, keeping and using digital records.

Archives and records authorities have also sought to establish their own tools which will aid agencies in meeting the challenges of digital recordkeeping. In addition, a number of models have been developed by archival authorities to aid them to manage digital records as archives.

The aim of this Framework document is to provide a high-level overview of these component parts of the Australasian approach to digital recordkeeping. Many of these components will have jurisdiction-specific manifestations which, while reflecting local circumstances and requirements, will all nevertheless conform with the fundamental features of the common framework.

This document will be used internally by ADRI in order to map our existing and planned initiatives onto a unified conceptual model. It will also aid in understanding the gaps in our current tools.

This document will be used externally by ADRI stakeholders to provide a unified portal to resources on digital recordkeeping at an international, national and jurisdiction specific level.

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Framework Components

Making and managing digital records

Systems for making, managing, keeping and using digital records need to be well designed to take account of user needs. Users may be internal organisational users, public users or community users. Government agencies need to make meaningful and authentic records with appropriate recordkeeping metadata that enables their digital records to be used for as long as they are required. When records are no longer required they should be appropriately disposed of with reference to relevant laws and to disposal authorisations issued by the relevant archival authority.

The cornerstone of the framework for making and managing digital records is the Australian Standard, AS ISO 15489: Records Management. In order to provide more detailed guidance for agencies, a variety of standards, policies and guidelines addressing different aspects of making and managing digital records have been developed or are under development. All of these separate products are consistent with the strategic and conceptual framework recommended in AS ISO 15489.

Keeping digital records in agencies and in archives and records authorities

Digital records need to be actively maintained if they are to remain of use to government and for research in the future. Government agencies, however, are usually limited in the extent to which they can accommodate and afford changes to their recordkeeping systems and related infrastructure. Most agencies have to operate with hardware and software spanning a number of generations with limited interoperability.

The members of the Australasian Digital Recordkeeping Initiative have looked at other international approaches to this issue. Our research shows that the best strategy for preserving digital records over the long term is to standardise them into a stable format.

Our approach to preserving digital records as archives uses, in part, standardised XML (eXtensible Markup Language). 1

Transferring digital records to archives and records authorities

Where government records need to be kept as archives they can be transferred to archival custody for storage in secure digital repositories. Transfer policies and procedures will be in accordance with guidelines issued by the relevant archival authority. Ensuring the longevity of important digital records may be achieved through the transfer of records to archival custody or appropriately distributed custody regimes.

Using digital records

Copies of digital records can be made available to agency and public users in a variety of formats including via the Internet. Public access to records is governed by legislation in the different jurisdictions and is facilitated by standards-based online search facilities and archival databases.

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1. Both Xena (the National Archives of Australia's preservation approach) and VERS (the Public Record Office Victoria's preservation approach) use XML as a key component of the transformation process. In addition VERS uses a range of long-term preservation formats.

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