New Report Suggests Australian Government Agencies Are Falling Behind In Their Records Compliance

Just over half of government agencies are digitising hard copy records. Less than a quarter are transferring all eligible records to an archival authority.

MELBOURNE, Vic., April, 13 2020 – AvePoint Australia today announced the results of its “2020 Public Sector Records Readiness Report.”

The survey, conducted with technology research and advisory firm, Ecosystm, included 100 records management professionals from small, medium and large government agencies across local, state and federal governments.

Among the study findings:

• Agencies are fairly confident they are managing records to applicable records management compliance standards. 60 percent of respondents said they were very confident that their records were managed accordingly and 40 percent said they were somewhat confident they are compliant.

• Yet, less than a quarter of government agencies transferred all eligible records to an archival authority in the past year. When asked why they hadn’t, 41 percent of respondents stated they did not know why.

The report suggests many agencies are falling behind in their compliance journey without even realising it.

Why are agencies falling behind?

The 2020 Public Sector Records Readiness Report directly asks respondents their reason for not transferring eligible records to an Archival authority within the past year. Findings showed:

• Did not know – 41 percent

• Work in progress – 30 percent

• Too many records/ A lot of work/ Manpower shortage – 18 percent

• Cost/Budget – 14 percent

• Lack of trained staff – 11 percent

• Mismanaged/ Did not follow procedures – 10 percent

• Compliance/ Data security concerns – 10 percent

• Confidential – 7 percent

“More than 50 percent of organisations are confident they are meeting their compliance requirements but only 23 percent are actually transferring all eligible records to an archival authority,” said Alyssa Blackburn, director of records and information management strategy, Avepoint. “This is a core part of a records management program so it’s curious to see that organisations consider themselves compliant but are not completing this activity. It’s vital for agencies that did not transfer all their eligible records to take a moment and ask themselves why and build a strategy to become compliant.”

The report further revealed that record managers are faced with a range of issues preventing them from optimising and improving their processes. These include:

• Agencies are still using manual classifications. Over half of records managers stated that they were very confident that their manual classification was accurate, yet with this model, 21 percent of records were not being classified for filing at all.

• Users face challenges adopting records management processes. Nearly 70 percent of respondents reported end users found the records management process complex and 63 percent stated there was a lack of change management needed to support, educate and drive adoption.

• Most respondents lacked total oversight across all systems. 59 percent of respondents reported that they were “very familiar” with their agencies' business systems yet only 13 percent of respondents had oversight of all information systems in their agency.

• Few records are automatically classified using AI or Machine Learning. Despite 44 percent of agencies using some type of automatic record classification system, only 11 percent of records are being classified automatically today.

“Machine Learning (ML) has the ability to significantly simplify the classification of records — and we will even see departments use ML for the sentencing and destruction of records in the future,” said Tim Sheedy, Research Analyst, Ecosystm.

Blackburn agrees, “Manual classification is not a long-term sustainable model for information management. If record managers are struggling to keep up with the growth of records today, it's only going to get worse tomorrow. We need the right tools to keep up with the data deluge. It is so important for records managers to start to — and continue to educate themselves on how these technologies can support information management within their organisations. Automated records classification is essential to records compliance and accuracy.”

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