Implementing the Minimum Metadata Set
Minimum metadata set
The minimum metadata set is a practical application of the Australian Government Recordkeeping Metadata Standard 2.2 (AGRkMS) which:
- identifies metadata properties essential for agency management of business information or transfer to the Archives and other agencies
- supports the Digital Continuity 2020 principles of interoperable systems and processes
- facilitates metadata implementation and information use in agencies.
The minimum metadata set identifies nine properties required for the efficient and effective management of your business information, regardless of what it is and where it is held.
The set is cumulative, with the Core properties applying to all systems, the Additional properties added for systems which hold and manage higher value and longer-term business information, and the Transfer properties added to complete the set for systems holding business information of archival value.
Any relevant property in the minimum metadata set should be used when required for business purposes. For example, you may create relatively low value but sensitive information needed for a short time (Core). In this case you would also apply a Protective Marking (from the Additional set).
The Core metadata properties apply to all business information in systems including, for example, high-volume, low value information in transactional systems. Business information should be uniquely identified and you should know who created it (the agency, work area or the individual) and when it was created.
These Additional metadata properties provide further context and support ongoing management, use of and access to higher value and longer-term business information. They also support interoperability and migration between systems over time.
The Transfer metadata properties support the long-term management of, and access to, business information of archival value. These transfer metadata properties should be applied in any system which holds business information of archival value (Retain as National Archives or RNA) which may be transferred to the Archives. The Transfer metadata properties support integrity, reliability and public access to business information of archival value. They can also be used when transferring higher value business information between systems and agencies.
In addition to the minimum metadata set, at the time of transfer, the Archives will accept other metadata that has been added to identify, provide context to, or authenticate business information. This may have been applied at creation or capture, or later to document processes or actions performed on the business information.
- history of use
- keyword terms
- geospatial information
- relationships to other business information, such as a document within a file structure
- Document Form, for example the document type within a system or process, such as a brief or application for a benefit.
Contact the Agency Service Centre if you have any question about the metadata required for transfer.
Benefits of adopting the minimum metadata set
- Identifies the metadata your systems need to allow easy and accountable capture, retrieval and disposal
- Supports effective migration and transfer of information within and between agencies, including transfer to the Archives
- Supports interoperability and information sharing across government via standardised metadata
- Integrates with the Archives’ Business System Assessment Framework to assess information management functionality requirements for business systems
- Is based on AGRkMS and allows agencies to use additional metadata to suit their business needs
- Is broadly compatible with the Recordkeeping Metadata Property Reference Set (Australian Standard AS 5478), supporting interoperability and information-sharing across all Australian jurisdictions
The Australian Government Recordkeeping Metadata Standard 2.2 provides for an implementation model of up to five entities (Record, Agent, Business, Relationship, Mandate). The minimum metadata set is a single-entity (that is, record-centric) implementation of AGRkMS 2.2. This represents a practical application of the standard to support implementation in agencies and transition to a digital information management environment under the Digital Continuity 2020 Policy.
When implementing the minimum metadata set in your systems, you will need to refer to additional information including definitions of each property, associated sub-properties, and relevant schemes. These details are provided in reference tables for each property. The reference tables identify the AGRkMS 2.2 properties which map to each minimum metadata property and provide details to assist with implementation of the minimum metadata set.
Ideally your technological systems should be able to capture the minimum metadata required to describe your business information. Alternatively this may be achieved through appropriate governance measures. For example, in technological systems that manage business information with the same retention period it may not be practical to include disposal information for each information asset - in this case, as part of overall system governance documentation, you should include the relevant disposal information. The Business Systems Assessment Framework can assist with implementing solutions to ensure necessary information management requirements are met by your system.
We will be reviewing AGRkMS 2.2 and the associated Implementation Guidelines for consistency with the minimum metadata set. These may continue to be referred to for additional guidance in implementation of the minimum metadata set in your agency.
In addition to the minimum metadata set, your agency should assess what needs to be described for your individual business purposes. The set can and should be extended to include any metadata needed by your agency to meet your business and information management needs. Since the set is based on AGRkMS, it supports extension with other properties from AGRkMS and can accommodate metadata from other schemas.
Instances where further metadata may be useful include:
- metadata to assist with access or audit - if you need to know who viewed or changed an information asset and when
- other disposal metadata such as Disposal Action, Disposal Trigger or End Date will assist with activities such as sentencing
- Keyword metadata, such as classification schemes, can provide structure and assist with classification, retrieval and disposal.
It is also good practice to record changes to key metadata including Identifier, Title and Creator by retaining a history of the former values for those properties. This is particularly important at the time of transfer to another system or agency to ensure the provenance and authenticity of the record is retained.
Digital Continuity 2020 requirements
Under Principle 3 of the Digital Continuity 2020 Policy, all information should be managed based on format and metadata standards for information governance and interoperability by 31 December 2020. The requirements of the minimum metadata set should be reached progressively in accordance with the following interim targets:
- All new business systems procured from 31 December 2016 onwards must meet the minimum metadata standard.
- By 31 December 2017 all business systems containing high-value and long-term information assets must meet the minimum metadata standard.
- By 31 December 2020, all business information will be managed based on format and metadata standards for information governance and interoperability.
Digital Continuity 2020 targets apply to both business systems and systems specifically designed to manage information such as Electronic Document and Records Management Systems (EDRMS).
Systems should be designed or adapted to capture the level of minimum metadata appropriate to the information they hold and manage.
For example systems:
- solely managing low-value information, with no need to capture additional metadata, need only capture the Core minimum metadata
- managing a mix of low-value and higher value information assets, excluding information assets of archival value, should capture at least Core and Additional properties
- including business information of archival value should capture the full minimum metadata set (Core, Additional and Transfers).
Any relevant property in the minimum metadata set should be used when required for business purposes.
To meet Principle 3 of the Digital Continuity 2020 Policy, agencies will need to review their current business and information systems, and consider what they need to do to meet the minimum metadata standard. For new systems, the ability to capture the minimum metadata should be included as a requirement in procurement documentation.
The Business System Assessment Framework will assist with identifying minimum metadata requirements for both new and existing systems. An information review may also be undertaken to identify the value of information in your agency.
If you would like to suggest additional tools or documents that your agency would find useful, or have any other comments on the minimum metadata set, please contact the Agency Service Centre.