Disposal of Records
The State Records Act requires the University to dispose of its official records in accordance with approved Disposal Schedules, which set out the legally mandated retention periods and disposal actions for the various kinds of University records.
All records have a legal minimum retention period and this is governed by the State Records Act 1997 and by the use of General Disposal Schedules. It is crucial that we keep records for as long as the law and commonsense require, so that we can provide evidence of our decisions and activities after they have occurred - and it is equally important that we have practices in place to ensure destruction of records after that time, in order to make the best use of our finite storage capacity.
Some documents should be kept permanently by the University, either due to requirements of the disposal schedules or due to the fact that the records have an enduring value to the University. Records to be permanently retained are managed and stored by the University Archives.
To ensure that University records held by administrative and academic departments are properly disposed of, approval must be obtained from the University Archives prior to any disposal actions. This provides a consistent check that the University is complying with its retention obligations.
The process involved in disposing of records varies depending on whether you have previously captured your records into the University's recordkeeping system, Content Manager:
- If your records HAVE previously been captured into Content Manager, then disposal will happen automatically. Records Services will consult with business owners of records before any disposal occurs. This is one of the many good reasons to capture your records into Content Manager as early in their life as possible, as a routine part of your work practice - and while the records are fresh in your mind and easy to describe.
- If your documents are under local departmental custody and HAVE NOT been captured in Content Manager, then you should contact the University Archives for a disposal authorisation request prior to destruction. This form will be returned with instructions on the appropriate disposal action.
Normal Administrative Practice (NAP)
NAP is the concept that material can be destroyed according to 'normal administrative practices'. This provides for the routine destruction of drafts, duplicates and publications, with the test that it is obvious that no information of continuing value to the organisation will be destroyed.
Material that can be disposed of under NAP comprises items of an ephemeral or transitory nature created, acquired or collected by agency officers in the course of their official duties. Such material has no ongoing value and is not usually incorporated into the agency recordkeeping system.
NAP falls into six main groups:
- transitory or short term items, e.g. phone messages, notes, compliment slips, office notices and circulars
- rough working papers and/or calculations created in the preparation of official records
- drafts not intended for further use or reference, excluding official version drafts of agreements, submissions and legal documents
- duplicate copies of material retained for reference purposes only
- published material which does not form an integral part of an agency record
- system printouts used to verify or monitor data, or answer ad hoc queries, that are not part of regular reporting procedures and not required for ongoing use.
NAP in Electronic Media
Just as telephone conversations or other verbal communications that contain information of ongoing value should be documented, so voice mail, e-mail, facsimiles, word-processed documents, spreadsheets, etc, should be captured into corporate recordkeeping systems when they contain information of ongoing value.
Agency induction and procedures must ensure that all officers are aware of their recordkeeping responsibilities and that electronic records with ongoing value are captured and retained in an appropriate way.
Only data included in the six categories outlined under NAP may be deleted from electronic systems according to normal administrative practice.
The NAP Test
Where the information is not duplicated in the agency recordkeeping system, ask:
- does the material form part of an agency transaction?
- does it add value to an existing record?
- does it show how a transaction was dealt with?
- does it show how a decision was made?
- does it show when or where an event happened?
- does it indicate who was involved or what advice was given?
- is it a formal draft of a Cabinet submission, an agreement or a legal document?
- is the material included in a disposal class in a general disposal schedule or in an agency operational records disposal schedule?
If the answer to any of these questions above is YES then the material must not be destroyed according to NAP.
Therefore, the following types of items may be destroyed under NAP:
- word-processing documents and spreadsheets in electronic format after updating, printing, or transfer to electronic recordkeeping systems
- drafts and rough notes not intended for further use
- brochures, catalogues, price lists, unsolicited promotional material etc. received from external sources
- superseded copies of instructions, guidelines, standards, etc., not included in a general or agency records disposal schedule
- extra copies of records no longer required for reference purposes
- copies of published items kept for personal reference
- unimportant messages and notes, eg those required for only few hours or a few days
- system printouts used to verify or monitor data, or answer ad hoc queries, that are not part of regular reporting procedures and are not required for ongoing use.
NAP is provided in the interest of efficient recordkeeping and extends to material of ephemeral and transitory value only.