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About this report 

Victorian Government is creating and collecting more information than ever before. But there is a struggle to effectively harness the value of information to improve work practices and service delivery to businesses and the community. 

Independent reviews and investigations have taken place in recent years which have reported on recordkeeping and information shortcomings across the Victorian Public Sector. In addition, Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) has also undertaken assessments and surveys to address recordkeeping issues.

This report aims to:

  • provide a snapshot of the major recordkeeping challenges currently facing the Victorian Public Sector
  • highlight and summarise activities undertaken by PROV and other organisations during 2017-18 which have brought to light these challenges.

Recordkeeping challenges 

PROV has conducted numerous surveys and research designed to determine what recordkeeping issues and challenges stakeholders face. Combined with the findings of the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office and various other publications, PROV has been able to identify the following key recordkeeping challenges currently impacting agencies:

Recordkeeping Challenges


Many agencies have not identified their critical records  and don’t have plans in place to manage risks to them

  • Only 20% of agencies have Information Asset Registers
  • Agencies lack documentation and processes around Disaster Management and Recovery Plans
  • Many agencies do not have Risk Registers
  • Some agencies do not have disposal coverage for function specific records  and therefore do know how long they must retain records generated by high risk/high value functions
  • Agencies are reactive rather than proactive with recordkeeping

Control of record assets is spread across the organisation, with a lack of comprehensive accountability and governance

  • Information management is not always understood, prioritised or resourced by agency management
  • Information management practice is sometimes inconsistent and siloed within agencies
  • Victorian Government agencies give insufficient regard to the value of information throughout its entire life. This devaluation reduces accountability, lowers public respect, increases costs and lowers productivity.
  • 63% of VAGO, IBAC and OV reports include incidents that highlight issues with accountability
  • 43% of VAGO, IBAC and OV reports cite issues with recordkeeping responsibility
  • 39% of VAGO, IBAC and OV reports cite issues with integrity
  • A lack of clear and effective leadership is a common theme throughout the investigations by VAGO, OV and IBAC

Lack of professional records management expertise across the VPS. General VPS staff do not understand obligations and have a low level of digital recordkeeping literacy

  • Lack of dedicated recordkeeping training within many agencies 
  • General lack of awareness about obligations and responsibilities around recordkeeping

Records are not being adequately created and managed to ensure that accurate and reliable information is accessible when required to support evidence of decisions or actions

  • Records are incomplete and do not reflect evidence of processes, decisions etc.
  • There are inconsistencies with Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006
  • Records of meetings are not comprehensive
  • RCIRCSA found numerous failings by institutions in their creation of full and accurate records
  • Records created by institutions should be clear, objective and thorough
  • Non-standardised data sets

New systems are constantly being procured which do not adequately capture, manage and retain the records required for business and evidential purposes

  • Absence of system-wide compliance monitoring resulting in discrepancies in records management
  • IT security is often 'weak'
  • Agencies using ‘work arounds’
  • Record management not part of scope in procuring systems
  • Information records management is not adequately considered in system development and selection, considered too time consuming and costly
  • The safety of victims is undermined by inadequate methods for sharing information between agencies about perpetrator risk. This is exacerbated by outdated information technology systems.

Huge volumes of paper records are stored across government – this is costly and information is very difficult to access

  • 800km of paper stored, steadily growing
  • Backlog of permanent records
  • Records are not stored appropriately, and are not secure or protected from disaster
  • Most records do not have any disposal action attached
  • Use of ad-hoc/temporary storage utilised
  • Many agencies are holding large volumes of un-indexed historical documents
  • Digitised and physical records are being unnecessarily stored at the same time
  • Legacy paper records incur management costs, storage costs and are unable to be searched for and retrieved at low cost
  • The volume of information and data is growing exponentially

Inadequate planning and resourcing is in place to ensure records are properly managed and protected when systems reach their end of life

  • Many high value permanent records and long term records continue to exist only within operational line of business systems in the Victorian Government. A challenge exists for Victorian Government for storage and retrieval of these records, where systems are being decommissioned.
  • Permanent records are not transferred to PROV so they are accessible to citizens when appropriate 
  • There is not a management plan for Lotus Notes content as the system is retired

Large number of standards and policies which agencies must meet, some overlapping or contradictory requirements

  • Stakeholders are confused about the many information management standards and requirements
  • Standards & policies should be adequate and specific
  • Many agencies do not have Records Disposal Policies

Insufficient resourcing for professional records management staff, major improvement projects and effective systems

  • Agencies lack resources to sort, sentence and transfer records to PROV
  • Individual capability and organisational capacity are seen as significant hurdles to improving information management practice and information sharing and release

PROV initiatives

Information Management Maturity Assessment Program (IMMAP) Information Management (IM) maturity assessments are completed by participating agencies using PROV’s Information Management Maturity Measurement (IM3) tool. The IMMAP provides:
  • a high-level overview of IM maturity for participating VG departments and agencies
  • a mechanism for identifying and initiating IM enhancement opportunities in VG
  • an evidence base to inform the strategic direction and priorities for IM decision makers across VG.
PROV Digital Archive A new Digital Archive will be commissioned in 2020 so agencies can efficiently transfer permanent digital records to PROV. This will also improve access to the digital and physical records held at PROV. PROV is developing a range of tools to assist agencies in preparing and transferring digital records.
Development of new Retention and Disposal Authorities (RDAs) PROV works continually with agencies to develop standards identifying permanent records and setting minimum lawful retention periods for temporary records.
Lotus Notes Proof of Concept PROV has undertaken a Proof of Concept project with CenITex on a sample set of Lotus Notes emails to test how well an eDiscovery tool can be used to automatically apply retention and destruction rules. The results from this will be used for further work.
Standards and Policy review PROV is reviewing all recordkeeping standards to reduce complexity and support digital recordkeeping.
Recordkeeping Assessment Tool PROV is developing an online assessment tool which agencies can use to measure compliance with the PROV Recordkeeping Standards.
Online training review PROV is redeveloping the online training module it provides for agency us and will offer a range of modules for different audiences.


Cross-government initiatives

Victorian Auditor-General’s Office tables the report Managing Public Sector Records The Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) tabled a report that highlighted the deficiencies of record keeping across the Victorian Government sector. The report identified several weaknesses in recordkeeping across government agencies and concluded that outdated legislation and the absence of system-wide compliance monitoring has resulted in discrepancies in records management across government agencies.
Establishment of Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) 2017  OVIC is the primary regulator and source of independent advice about how the public sector collects, uses and shares information. The establishment of this Office bringing together Freedom of Information and information privacy and security enables better coordination of Victorian public sector information policy and standards.
The Enterprise Solutions Branch (Department of Premier and Cabinet) Information Management 
This framework enhances decision making, policy development and service delivery through a standard approach to Information Management across the government.
Amendment to the Privacy Act 1988 The Privacy Act 1988 was amended by the Australian Government to include the Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme. The scheme, which applies to all businesses, government agencies and organisations covered by the Privacy Act 1988, aims to ensure people are notified about serious data breaches and came into effect in February 2018. This scheme requires agencies to put in place improved management regimes to manage personal information.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse In December 2017 the Royal Commission presented a final report to the Governor-General. This was the culmination of a five-year inquiry into institutional responses to child sexual abuse. Volume 8, Recordkeeping and information sharing examines the records, recordkeeping and information sharing of institutions that care for or provide services to children. It includes 23 recommendations, which are being addressed by the Victorian Government.
National Redress Scheme The Commonwealth Government has commenced a national redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse. This was a key recommendation of both the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the Victorian Betrayal of Trust Inquiry. A range of Victorian agencies are involved in providing records to support redress applications.
The Victorian Family Violence Royal Commission In March 2016 the final report of this Royal Commission was tabled in the Victorian Parliament. This report detailed a range of issues with the way information is managed and shared by the government and non-government agencies involved in responding to family violence. As a result, Family Safety Victoria was established in July 2017 to deliver family violence reforms. This includes the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme, which was created by changes to the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 and the Family Violence Protection (Information and Risk Management) Regulations 2018.


Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples