Strategic plan

Version: 10
Date: 19 March 2010
Status: Final
Approved: Yes
Audience: ADRI members


Executive summary

The Australasian Digital Recordkeeping Initiative (ADRI) was formed in 2004 to harmonise the efforts of government archives and records authorities in Australia and New Zealand in the area of digital recordkeeping.

This document outlines the strategic vision for ADRI over the next five years. It articulates the vision and objectives of the Initiative and the principles under which ADRI will operate. This document also gives an overview of the existing tools and models that are used by archives and records authorities to undertake digital recordkeeping.

A number of initiatives have been identified that will be undertaken by ADRI over the next five years. These fall broadly into five categories:

  • Strategic tools
  • Common standards and specifications
  • Guidelines and best practices manuals
  • Infrastructural tools
  • Digital Preservation Tools

A governance model for ADRI has been established which includes:

  • Directorate – the body which has ultimate authority over ADRI
  • Plenary – a body that reports to the Directorate and provides management and oversight of the ADRI initiatives
  • Project teams – the bodies responsible for delivering initiatives

Resourcing principles have been established in order to ensure that each ADRI initiative is able to be delivered. An environmental scan and stakeholder analysis has been undertaken.

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It has been the experience of government archives and records authorities that the discipline and culture surrounding records management in government has been significantly eroded other than in high-risk, highly regulated or high value business processes. In addition, as more business processes are heavily embedded in information technology there is a growing need to capture and manage digital rather than physical records.

While government agencies are moving towards integrated information technology architectures and approaches that incorporate a records management component, it will take some time to move from current function specific software to this integrated model. Even when effective infrastructure is in place within agencies, it is questionable whether the quality of recordkeeping will improve.

The quality of recordkeeping is more likely to improve where the digital records are recognised and valued and infrastructure exists to capture, manage, preserve and re-use the records.

As the providers of recordkeeping standards and guidance to government agencies, it is incumbent on the government archives and records authorities to assist government agencies more effectively to make, keep and re-use their digital records. It is also important that government archives and records authorities establish internal practices and tools to enable the long-term retention and accessibility of the digital records with which they are entrusted.

Recognition of these circumstances led in 2004 to the formation of the Australasian Digital Recordkeeping Initiative (ADRI).

The primary objective of ADRI is to find better ways to ensure that digital records are captured, managed, preserved and made accessible for the future. This will be done by pooling existing resources and expertise. Every one of the national, state and territory government archives and records authorities in Australia and New Zealand have joined together to form this Initiative. They have agreed to collaborate on the development, articulation and implementation of a common set of strategies for enabling the making, keeping and using of the digital records of governments.

ADRI focuses attention on the importance of archives and records authorities and government agencies working together to preserve digital records.

The Initiative promotes a uniform Australasian approach to digital public recordkeeping across all jurisdictions and provides a space for communication and information sharing between the members. The collaboration ensures the best possible strategic use of limited collective resources and maximises the wider awareness and impact of the agreed approach to addressing the challenge of digital records.

The collaboration builds on and acknowledges many years of Australasian collaboration in the development of concepts, tools, standards and strategies for good recordkeeping. Furthermore, the Initiative's successful approach and its cooperation with international bodies such as the International Council on Archives (ICA) will add value to existing jurisdiction-specific initiatives, placing them in a coherent framework with national and international standards.

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ADRI has the following objectives:

  1. That each government (including local) in Australia and New Zealand has an governance regime for the digital environment (also known as e-governance) which is supported by sound strategies for making, keeping and using digital records.
  2. That the digital evidence of government business in Australia and New Zealand is captured, preserved and accessible for the benefit of current and future generations.
  3. That, in a digital environment, government agencies can meet their legal and functional responsibilities effectively and economically.

ADRI will achieve these through:

  1. Professional leadership and development in digital recordkeeping is provided by ADRI members.
  2. A commitment to agreed principles for digital recordkeeping.
  3. Encouraging vendors to provide implementations of standards developed by ADRI.
  4. Advocacy for appropriate digital recordkeeping to support government in all jurisdictions.
  5. Strategic use of limited collective resources and sharing information between members in an efficient and timely manner

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Priorities for the next 5 years

The ADRI Priorities for 2010-2015 highlight the areas where emphasis and attention to outcomes will be focused. The following priorities feature a focus on building capacity and skills, enhancing digital preservation maturity and transitioning from Web 2.0 technologies to Web 3.0.

Building capacity and skills

ADRI aims to continue to strengthen the skills and capabilities for digital recordkeeping and archiving both internally for archival authorities and externally for agencies and for ICT professionals. The focus will be on enhancing recordkeeping and archival skills for government agencies as regular skill upgrades are necessary for a high collaborative capacity across jurisdictions and within archival institutions. This will be undertaken through enhanced collaboration across jurisdictions, best practice knowledge-sharing and ICT training for archivists to establish new services and competencies in the digital age.

Digital preservation maturity

ADRI aims to reach a high level of digital preservation maturity to ensure the interoperability of digital resources in the future. The focus will be on capturing data under archival institutional control, surveying barriers to digital transfers and managing medium to long-term temporary digital records. In addition, dealing with cloud computing and preservation responsibility shared between agencies and archival authorities will be a highlighted issue in order to address skill shortages and produce more effective technical infrastructure.

Dealing with emerging technologies

The emergence of new web technologies, service oriented architecture and other innovative developments presents both opportunities and threats. There are opportunities to strengthen engagement with, the reuse of, and accessibility of digital records. However, capturing records from existing technology (such as social media, mobile computing, non standard business applications, and other systems used by government agencies) presents a challenge to archival institutions and this will become more complex with the uptake of emerging technologies. ADRI will make understanding the implications of existing technology for recordkeeping and its fundamental challenges a priority as well as exploring new and expanding technologies.

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How ADRI works


The Plenary meets at least four times a year, usually by teleconference but with at least one face to face meeting of team project managers, technical subject leaders and the ADRI Plenary. The aims of the Plenary are to continue:

  • Information exchange
  • Discussion of relevant issues
  • Update on project deliverables
  • Regular meetings


Secretariat services for ADRI are provided by the ADRI Project Coordinator. The Project Coordinator is responsible for convening Plenary meetings, drafting agendas and minutes, and maintaining records, information resources and links for ADRI and the ADRI website.

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The following principles apply to the resourcing of ADRI and its objectives:

  • All ADRI members to support the common objectives of ADRI.
  • All ADRI members to identify the key contact person for digital recordkeeping initiatives. This person to be a member of the ADRI Plenary.
  • All ADRI members to commit to leading some elements of ADRI annually (this may involve commitment of budget).
  • All ADRI members to commit to sharing the knowledge and expertise gained in the practical application of digital recordkeeping tools, techniques and processes.
  • All research into digital recordkeeping between the members of ADRI will be shared.

As much as possible ADRI deliverables will be based on work already undertaken or planned either by member institutions or by external organisations. Each proposed deliverable will be assessed on the basis of need and available resources (including budget) within one or more member institutions. Unless resources are available and/or the need is great, a proposed deliverable will not be given a high priority.

Prioritising of deliverables and resources will be determined at CAARA meetings based on advice received from the ADRI Plenary.

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Environmental scan

This Environmental Scan considers the larger external recordkeeping environment within which ADRI operates. It considers the factors that will influence the direction and goals of the Initiative. Furthermore, it includes both present and future factors that may affect the operations of the Initiative.

Digital recordkeeping environment Changes, evolving trends and new factors

The rapidly expanding digital recordkeeping environment presents both opportunities and threats. Increased accessibility online and the creation of multiple copies of records from back-up and recovery are among these opportunities. Digital records, however, are also more susceptible to threats such as corrupted data than records created in traditional ways, such as paper or microform.

Although there is a lack of recognition for and a culture of devaluing records in many government agencies, the attitude towards digital records has changed as these types of records are increasingly common. Digital preservation maturity has become an issue of interest as agencies have become more concerned with how to secure the long-term preservation and future use of digital records.

Businesses, governments and individuals are regularly creating and capturing digital information. Resourcing and capability to meet priorities in archival institutions and jurisdictions is limited and there is a danger that the amount of digital content created will overwhelm archival institutions' ability to preserve this content. This is further challenged by a demand to meet the expanding expectations of users that digital access be provided to archives.

Coping with a lack of digital records transfers is a challenge currently faced by archival institutions which have a digital archive. Many departments are still operating within a predominantly paper environment. There is a need to identify drivers for an increased disposal and/or transfer of digital public records from government departments to state archival institutions.

Demands for unlimited accessibility to records and a proactive release of government information are met with tension from an emphasis on information security and the protection of privacy. In addition, the aspiration for uniformity across state jurisdictions is juxtaposed with differing legal frameworks.

In the digital environment, records may require both the hardware and software used for creation to be preserved for accessibility. Records created on older software and hardware may be difficult to open or read in a different system. Information technology's rapid rate of development has lead to software and hardware obsolescence. Due to software, physical carrier or hardware obsolescence, digital records risk being orphaned.

Trends show that the evolution of recordkeeping tools is moving towards service-oriented architecture and away from EDRMS. This challenges archival institutions as many have been focussed on building digital preservation requirements into EDRMS.

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Stakeholder analysis

The main ADRI stakeholders are the Governments that members represent, the member institutions themselves and their staff, and the government agencies they service.

Users of records are also stakeholders. They may be public or community users or agency users.

In addition, professionals in the areas of Information Management, Records Management and Archiving and Information Technology – including software vendors – which are grappling with digital preservation issues are also stakeholders.

Other stakeholders include public officials and ministers who resource ADRI member institutions and who require ADRI member institutions to meet the objective of ensuring the continued usability of electronic evidence while making the most efficient use of resources.

Other stakeholders include standard setting organisations like the International Council on Archives, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and Standards Australia as there may be overlap between standards developed by ADRI and these bodies. ADRI may undertake joint work with these bodies. In addition, standards developed by ADRI may be adopted by these organisations or vice versa.

ADRI will also be of interest to academics, libraries and students of related disciplines, and international research initiatives.

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