National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2015-16 to 2018-19


I, as the accountable authority of the National Archives of Australia (the Archives) present the four (4) year Archives corporate plan commencing in 2015-16 for the period 2015-16 to 2018-19, as required under paragraph 35(1)(b) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. The plan is prepared in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014.

This document sets out the purposes and vision for the Archives. It also defines the strategic priorities that will guide our work over the next four years and provides the pathways to deliver them. It responds to our legislation and is informed by sector and nationwide consultation.


The purpose of the Archives is outlined in the Archives Act 1983 which identifies our key roles and responsibilities. In particular, the objects of the Archives Act are:

  1. to provide for a National Archives of Australia, whose functions include:
    1. identifying the archival resources of the Commonwealth; and
    2. preserving and making publicly available the archival resources of the Commonwealth; and
    3. overseeing Commonwealth record-keeping, by determining standards and providing advice to Commonwealth institutions; and
  2. to impose record-keeping obligations in respect of Commonwealth records.

The Archives fulfils these functions by undertaking a range of business activities, supported by strategic direction setting, governance and corporate areas.

The Archives will look for new opportunities to improve our governance and business operations – the way we work and deliver our services – particularly in a tight financial environment.

Our vision

Through our stewardship of the records of the Australian Government we provide access to the evidence and memory of our nation connecting Australians with their identity, history and place in the world.

Our values

  • We are committed to the Australian Public Service Values and Code of Conduct under the Public Service Act 1999.
  • We promote the importance of information and records management to support an accountable, efficient and effective government.
  • We undertake to continue to develop the professional and technical competency of our staff in order to meet our outcome.
  • We are committed to open government to ensure we remain transparent, effective and accountable to the public.
  • We are committed to safeguarding the authoritative source of evidence of Australian Government information.

Our outcome and planning context

The Archives' 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements outline our planned outcome and program:


To promote the creation, management and preservation of authentic, reliable and usable Commonwealth records and enable ongoing access to the archival resources of the Commonwealth


National Archives of Australia

Our key performance indicators, deliverables and resourcing, as stated in the Portfolio Budget Statements, are measured and reported to government in our annual report. This reporting will help inform the government in relation to the contribution that effective information and records management makes to the acceleration of e-government and the digital economy.

The strategic priorities outlined in this corporate plan and ways to achieve them are incorporated into annual branch and section/state and territory office business plans and individual work plans. The corporate plan and work plans are subject to annual review.

These linkages, represented in Figure 1, aim to ensure the relationship between the work goals of staff and our high-level strategies are clear, monitored and regularly reviewed.

Figure 1: Relationship between outcome, business plans and individual work plans

Relationship between outcome, business plans and individual work plans

Our environment

The Archives regularly assesses its operating environment, challenges, goals and risks to identify key priorities for coming years. In 2013, our 20 year vision was comprehensively updated. The update looked at all aspects of our operating environment and is reflected in our strategic priorities.

Throughout 2015–16 and beyond, the Archives' strategic priorities will focus on:

  • the Australian Government's objective to move Commonwealth entities and companies to digital information and records management
  • supporting open government initiatives and implementing changes to our legislation resulting from the 2010 freedom of information reforms and consequential earlier release of records
  • promoting and accelerating online access to the collection
  • increasing storage capacity for archival material
  • responding to ever increasing demand for new and innovative technologies to deliver our services.

Looking towards the next four years and beyond, we will continue to deliver our core business of:

  • providing advice to the government and guiding entities
  • engaging with national and international stakeholders in collaboration with national cultural entities to accelerate access to our national collections
  • managing, collecting, describing and preserving Commonwealth records
  • raising the public profile of the rich national history held within the Archives’ collection
  • increasing access to the archival resources of the Commonwealth.

Our future strategic outlook

The Archives has developed a strategic outlook to 2020. Based on a number of assumptions and forecast challenges, this outlook includes:

  • impact of an ageing workforce
  • geographic spread of the nation's workforce
  • technological changes and advances to improve connectivity
  • human resources, fiscal constraints and efficiency measures
  • increasing volume of born digital records created by the government
  • increasing demands on access to the archival resources of the Commonwealth
  • highly educated population and high rate of adoption of technology in households
  • increased interest in family, community and Australia’s history
  • increasing awareness of Australia's cultural assets.

The above assumptions are not intended to be exhaustive, and indeed only represent a sample of the many issues considered by the Archives in the development of our strategic outlook. Therefore, we will review annually the strategic outlook and four-year corporate plan.


The strategic outlook recognises a number of drivers that will create key milestones and review points in future years. These drivers can be grouped as follows:

  • The Archives will continue to be the lead entity to provide advice to all Commonwealth entities on information management from its creation through to managing and providing access to it.
  • The Archives will increase collaboration with other Commonwealth entities and archival organisations in other jurisdictions to provide services for the benefit of all Australians.
  • The Archives will seek to increase collaboration with international archival organisations to further the development of international standards and promote knowledge transfer.
  • The Archives will continue to foster alignment with key entities and industry to promote better information and records management.
  • The Archives will collaborate with other cultural entities to increase awareness of Australia's cultural assets and promote access to them.
  • The Archives will consider broader funding options, such as public/private partnerships, to accelerate access to these cultural assets, while controlling and protecting the Commonwealth's intellectual property interests.
  • Utilising opportunities presented by an enhanced ICT infrastructure capability, the Archives will provide automated processes for the transfer of digital information and records from entities to allow for improved and efficient access.
  • With online access continuing to grow as the service point of choice for Australians, the Archives will maintain multiple service delivery channels.
  • As shared infrastructure and services increase within the Australian Government, the Archives seek to harness business and financial benefits by accessing these services.
  • The Australian community across all demographics will continue to be rapid adopters of ICT, which will lead to greater demand for accessible web-based services across multiple devices.
  • The Archives will engage with shared or cloud solutions to improve efficiency and effectiveness of data storage and access.

Our future

The following outlines key focus areas for future years to support the Archives' strategic outlook. These strategic areas will be reviewed annually:

  • Workforce planning;
  • Shared services model;
  • National and international relationships;
  • Digital economy and e-government;
  • Storage and preservation;
  • Environmental performance;
  • Open government/enhanced access; and
  • Governance.

Table 1: Business responsibilities and strategies

Help entities meet their information and records management responsibilitiesDevelop standards, policies, guidance, training and services to assist entities adopt good information and records management practices
Move entities to digital information and records management for efficiency purposesGuide entities on the management of digital information, reporting annually to the Minister on their transition to digital, with a progress report to the Prime Minister in 2015 and 2017
Determine how long Australian Government entities should keep their records and identify records of enduring national significanceWork with entities to identify and determine information to be retained for their business needs, the rights and entitlements of the Australian people and as the essential evidence of government
Collect records of the leaders of our nationEncourage our leaders to donate their personal records to the Archives, as they provide an invaluable complementary context to the official government records that we hold
Transfer archival value records from Australian Government entities and ensure their safe storagePlan and manage the efficient transfer, description and storage of records from entities and ensure optimal use of our storage facilities across Australia
Store and preserve the archival resources of the CommonwealthStore the records we hold in appropriate environmental conditions
Enable entities to access the records of their business that we hold in accordance with the Archives ActFacilitate Commonwealth entities and companies access to records on their premises or in the Archives' reading rooms, depending on the age and condition of the records
Provide access to the records that we hold in accordance with the Archives ActFacilitate access to records in the open period through our online services and programs, reading rooms, research, education programs, exhibitions, publications and promotional events
Respond to the changing government and public expectations for improved service deliveryProvide greater access to records by securely exploiting available collaborative web and ICT infrastructure technologies to provide equitable access, irrespective of the location of a client
Promote understanding and appreciation of the archival resources of the CommonwealthEnhance the public’s knowledge of the collection by delivering and actively promoting strategic and innovative public programs and services
Promote strategic engagement with key national and international stakeholdersContinue to explore engagement with state and territory archival organisations in the efficient delivery of services and the development of international standards. Promote strategic engagement and knowledge transfer with national and international archival organisations
Adhere to Australian Public Service Legislative Framework, including the Archives Act and associated policies and guidelinesEnsure all staff are aware of and comply with the Framework
Improve corporate governancePeriodically review the outcome and program framework, key performance indicators and governance committees to inform the assessment of corporate performance and assist in developing strategies for continuous improvement

Our strategic priorities

While our business functions represent the Archives' key ongoing responsibilities, approaches to these functions are informed by changing circumstances. For the next four years, we will focus on four key priorities in delivering our outcomes to the government and community.

The strategic priorities are integral to our four-year corporate plan, and each year we will refine our priorities and goals, measure our progress, and learn from our challenges and achievements. We will also conduct reviews of our key performance measures and governance committees.

Each strategic priority is mapped to our 2015–16 outcome. The Archives' work is complex and any area of our endeavour involves both a contribution from, and an impact on, all parts of the organisation.

Strategic priority 1: Develop and sustain a workforce that is professional, capable, flexible, innovative, engaged and collaborative

The Archives' capability framework and workforce plan will provide support in a dynamic, rapidly changing and demanding public service driven by a tight fiscal environment, technological advancement, changing demographics and service delivery reform.

The Archives' workforce will be:

  • professional – qualified, principled, experienced, contemporary and ethical
  • capable – informed, innovative, and possessing skills and knowledge relevant to operational and policy areas
  • flexible – adaptable, responsive, intelligent, embracing change and resilient
  • innovative – creative, proactive and solutions based
  • engaged – committed, involved, empowered and taking pride in the delivery of work
  • collaborative – cooperative, participative and agile across work teams

Strategic priority 2: Ensuring contemporary storage capability to secure and preserve the archival resources of the Commonwealth

The Archives will continue to build our capability in digital storage to ensure that our capacity will meet the needs of entities for the creation and management of paper, digital and audiovisual records.

We will continue to manage the build for the National Archives Preservation Facility in the ACT, and identify the building to provide an additional 75 shelf kilometres (skm) of paper storage in the ACT. In 2015-16 the Archives will finalise the upgrade of the facility in Chester Hill (NSW).

  • We will continue to review and manage our national property portfolio within the Commonwealth Property Management Framework and the requirements of the Commonwealth’s Protective Security Framework.

Strategic priority 3: Provide leadership and continued support for digital information and records management capability across the Australian Government

The Archives will support capability development and increase awareness of digital information and records management better practice across the Australian Government. In collaboration with key entities, we will promote the need to develop skilled staff and business systems to effectively support digital information and records management.

Entities will be provided with guidance to assist them to reduce stockpiles of paper records that can be transferred or destroyed using records authorities issued by the Archives. We will also provide guidance to assist them meet the requirement that records created digitally after 2015 will be accepted for transfer to the Archives in digital format only.

We will ensure our business systems and practices evolve strategically to provide the necessary capacity and capability to support the digital transfer of archival records.

We will also build our business systems and staff capability in the management of digital transfers, preservation and access to records to support e-government and changing digital technologies.

The Archives will continue to implement the Archives’ digital business model. The Digital Business Roadmap sets out the requirements from an organisation, practical and business sense for the efficient and continuous management of digital archival material from its creation in entities to meaningful access by the public.

Strategic priority 4: Continue to enhance business capability to deliver innovative, responsive and appropriate services for access that meet the needs of government, the Australian people and other key stakeholders

In managing government and public expectations, we will seek to exploit advancing technologies to improve service delivery to maximise access to, and client engagement with, the archival resources of the Commonwealth.

The Archives will manage web content and technology consistent with Australian Government security and information technology standards and protocols, and accessibility requirements.

We will review business systems to focus on improving services for our clients with an emphasis on the digital economy and e-Government.

Delivery of improved service and efficiency in our operations will be further explored, including a review of our service capability framework nationwide. Information and communication technology infrastructure and service offerings will be leveraged to support the delivery of digital content.

We will regularly review our existing outcome framework, business activities and priorities, project management capability and governance arrangements to ensure alignment with relevant Australian Public Service reforms, as appropriate.


The Archives measures and assesses its performance as outlined in the Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS). The PBS lists the Archives’ deliverables and key performance indicators as follows:


Table 2a: Transfers

Item2015–16 Budget2016–17 Forward Estimate2017–18 Forward Estimate2018–19 Forward Estimate
Percentage of National Transfer Plan (agency transfers) completed95%95%95%95%

Table 2b: Preservation

Item2015–16 Budget2016–17 Forward Estimate2017–18 Forward Estimate2018–19 Forward Estimate
Number of at-risk items provided preservation treatment200,000200,000200,000200,000

Table 2c: Access

Item2015–16 Budget2016–17 Forward Estimate2017–18 Forward Estimate2018–19 Forward Estimate
Number of records pages added to the Archives' website (RecordSearch)1.5m1.5m1.5m1.5m
Percentage of items issued to the public and entities within service standards95%95%95%95%
Percentage of reference enquiries responded to within 30 days85%85%85%85%
Percentage of records examined and cleared within 90 days100%100%100%100%
National Reading room network business opening hours met90%90%90%90%
Number of records accessed through the national reference service75,00075,00075,00075,000
Archives’ website availability99%99%99%99%

Key performance indicators

Table 3a: Government interaction

Item2015–16 Budget2016–17 Forward Estimate2017–18 Forward Estimate2018–19 Forward Estimate
Satisfaction rating on information and records management products, services and advice90%90%90%90%
Percentage of entities involved in Archives’ information management training and events75%75%80%80%
Percentage of entities reporting against Check-Up Digital (annually)95%95%95%95%

Table 3b: Collection management

Item2015–16 Budget2016–17 Forward Estimate2017–18 Forward Estimate2018–19 Forward Estimate
Percentage of the total collection described at item level32%33%34%35%

Table 3c: Access, visitors and online engagement

Item2015–16 Budget2016–17 Forward Estimate2017–18 Forward Estimate2018–19 Forward Estimate
Total number of visitors to the Archives177,000221,250282,000206,500
Total number of visits by students as part of an organised educational group68,50071,25074,50078,000
Total number of visitors participating in public and outreach programmes90,500133,000144,000117,500
Percentage of visitors who are satisfied with their visit experience90%90%90%90%
Percentage of visitors and participants in programme activities who report an increased awareness and understanding of the Archives and Australia’s heritage and democracy90%90%90%90%
Number of records accessed online through RecordSearch12.0m15.0m17.0m17.0m
Total number of visits to the Archives’ websites5.0m5.0m5.0m5.0m
Number of page views on the Archives’ websites15.0m15.0m15.0m15.0m

To ensure the Archives achieves these deliverables and key performance indicators, we assess performance through quarterly reporting to the Executive Board and the Audit and Risk Committee.


Our workforce planning

We will continue to use the workforce capability framework, outlined below, and develop our workforce plan to identify the resources required to support our business needs and future business drivers.

We will continue to review the Archives’ organisational structure and re-engineer our traditional roles to provide a workforce that ensures we meet our outcome and support e-government and the digital environment. This will also ensure that we seek to increase efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of our outcome to the government and public in an environment that is forecast to remain fiscally tight in the future.

Our capability framework

The Archives' capability framework is designed to support the development of our staff and to improve business efficiency. This will ensure our people management practices continue to support our strategic priorities.

The first five capabilities are relevant to all staff, while the last three are most relevant to those with leadership responsibilities.

Table 4: Capability framework

Knows the National ArchivesKnowledge of the people, processes, technology and frameworks that are essential for working successfully in the National Archives and the broader Australian Government context
Drives for resultsA strong commitment to make things happen, to set and achieve goals, and a determination to find ways to deliver positive outcomes for the Archives' clients and stakeholders
Flexible thinkingThe ability to respond flexibly to situations, issues and challenges
Self-confidenceAn inner confidence in your own capability, and the dedication to find effective ways to overcome obstacles to achieve the best outcomes for the Archives
Collaborative workingBeing committed to working and engaging constructively with others

Table 5: Leadership capability

Strategic insightThe capacity to identify shifts or key trends in the environment, integrating complex issues and new concepts in order to ensure the strategic positioning of the National Archives
Builds organisational capabilityThe ability to build the Archives' organisational capability (processes, systems and people) to meet the goals and challenges of the future
Leading people through changeCommunicating the vision and rationale for change, and engaging and facilitating others to work collaboratively to achieve lasting change

Our capital investment

We are delivering three construction projects. The project for a National Archives Preservation Facility in Canberra is underway and is expected to be completed in 2017. Our Chester Hill, NSW upgrade is progressing well and will be fully operational by the end of 2015 and we will commence design development for an additional 75kms to provide an additional paper storage solution in the ACT.

We are currently developing an end-to-end digital business solution which will enhance digital archival material from its creation in entities to meaningful access by the public. This business solution will support entities to meet requirements for Digital Continuity 2020 targets.

Our ICT challenges and priorities

The priority is the move to digital records and information management, and to meet community expectations with regard to access to information online irrespective of geographical location and device. The ICT challenges identified in the Corporate Plan are:

  • Supporting the Archives in the whole of Government Digital Transition Plan
  • Digital preservation
  • Audio visual obsolescence
  • Digital access

Whilst there is a wide range of business drivers, both internal and external to the Archives, the capability drivers in 2015-16 and the forward years’ are:

  • Delivery of services and products that support entities’ information and records management capability
  • Investment in the Archives’ ICT capability that supports the whole of Government strategic ICT investment and procurement framework
  • Exploring the use of infrastructure services designed to support rapid and cost-effective access and deployment
  • Improved services to the Archives’ State and Territory Offices
  • Prioritising current and future state investment in RecordSearch
  • Rationalised web presence to improve the public experience to the Archives’ services
  • Supporting the development and delivery of the strategic direction for improved digitisation capability and capacity
  • Improved governance and project management
  • Investing in digital and online research and development
  • Collaborating with strategic partners in the development of digital capability
  • Appropriate storage and management tools for the digital archives

Our risk management framework

Risk management is an integral part of Archives’ business planning processes. All strategic priorities and operational pathways have a risk component that is considered throughout planning, development and delivery phases to support the achievement of our key business objectives.

Risks are identified, monitored and reported through the Archives’ Strategic Risk Register and the Branch Business Plans and reviewed by the Executive Board and the Audit and Risk Committee on an annual basis.

The main risks identified by the Archives include:

Table 6: Risks

Strategic development of human capital to meet future challenges.Develop a workforce plan and mobility principles to support staff.
Inadvertent or deliberate release of classified and/or sensitive material.Monitor procedures and continue to work with entities on process improvements if necessary.
Capacity and capability to ingest, preserve and describe records and to provide effective custodian facilities to enable future access to these records.Implement a digital end-to-end process and review the National Preservation Plan.
Failing to identify or impose records creation and retention requirements and the minimum standards for digital Government records.Develop whole of government information and records management policy and metadata standards.
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