Australian Archives Official Shares Digital Records Experience
by Erik Moshe | National Archives News
As the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) works to meet the challenges posed by managing digital records, agency staff had the opportunity to hear how another nation’s archives dealt with the issue and came up with creative solutions.
Anne Lyons, a member of the National Archives of Australia’s executive team, spoke about Australia’s experience transitioning to digital record keeping during an August 31, 2017, presentation at NARA’s College Park facility, which was available by webcast to the entire agency.
"The Australian government has a range of strategies which take information front and center to produce better policies, integrated services, digital engagement with citizens, efficiency for government, and opportunities for private sector innovation,” Lyons said. “In Australia, digital is now the default channel for interaction between government and citizens."
Titled "From Red Tape to Red Carpet—the Transformation of Recordkeeping in the Digital Age," Lyons’s presentation described how Australia’s National Archives moved its primary access service delivery to the web, growing the public’s use of records online. The talk also described the successful implementation of that country’s Commonwealth Digital Transition Policy, which assisted Australian government agencies to be fully digital by 2016.
Lyons also spoke about the development of the Archives Digital Continuity 2020 Policy, which has set the direction for comprehensive information management in all government business systems by 2020.
The presentation centered on how changing the image of recordkeeping and compliance to good information management and good government is realizing and realigning value in information and its role as record and how it benefits business. Lyons reviewed the Australian Archives’ evolution from compliance to risk-based management and detailed the strategies used by the National Archives of Australia to transform how the government manages, interacts, and deals with its important records now and into the future.
“In December of 2016, Australia released its first open government action plan,” Lyons said. “Under the action plan, the National Archives is responsible for enhancing citizens’ access to Australian government business information through digital and online channels. Most significantly, the archives will continue to lead the transition from paper to digital practices in Australian government agencies, digitize paper records of high research value, and increase the number of records available for public access.”
Deputy Archivist of the United States Debra Wall noted the friendship between the two nations’ archives during opening remarks at the presentation.
“Anne and Archives Director-General David Fricker have been great friends to the (United States) National Archives,” Wall said. “We share similar challenges and opportunities, and we’ve had a series of ongoing dialogue, conversation, and collaboration.”