Records audits flagged for mid-2010

Up to 45 audits a year planned to enforce Public Records Act

The first field audits under the Public Records Act will begin in the middle of the year, with up to 45 audits taking place each year thereafter.

All public offices and local authorities are subject to the requirements of the Act, which was passed in 2005. The Act established a record-keeping framework to enable effective management of all records. This includes new and current records and record-keeping practices in all government organisations, rather than just the end process of archival transfer.

Under the Act, Archives New Zealand has developed an audit tool for undertaking five-yearly record-keeping audits of public offices from 2010.

John Roberts, acting group manager government record keeping, says Archives is assembling an audit team, some of whom have been recruited, and that over time it may add some external capability.

“The audit process will probably take about four months, though the actual field audits should be done in a few days.

“The first audits will begin late in April and the first field audits around mid year.”

He says he is pretty confident about the process. “We’ve not seeing a lot of resistance from departments.

“There has been a lot of activity by departments getting their houses in order. There has been good attendance at our training and forums and our regular surveys have shown steady improvement. The five-year lead time [between the passing of the Act and the beginning of the audits] has been put to good use.”

Archives has established a list of candidate departments to audit this year.

“We’ve got around 250 departments to audit over the next five years,” Roberts says. “We will use self-assessment as a first step, then compare those answers with areas of higher risk in a department.”

Many government organisations have upgraded their technology in the past few years to better handle electronic record management. Roberts says there will be a lot of attention paid to online systems.

“Some organisations are still at a relatively low level of maturity.”

The chief archivist must report annually to the Minister responsible for Archives New Zealand on the state of record keeping in public offices.

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