Senator the Hon George Brandis QC
This is the first report under the Digital Continuity 2020 Policy issued in October 2015 by the National Archives of Australia (Archives) under the Archives Act 1983. Three reports on progress towards digital information management in the Australian Government were provided from 2011 to 2014 under the Commonwealth's whole-of-government Digital Transition Policy, which was introduced in July 2011 and led by the Archives in consultation with the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).
The Archives plays a crucial information management role across government. The Archives' leadership of the Digital Transition Policy and Digital Continuity 2020 Policy presents an opportunity to extend the influence of information governance and digital information management to underpin the Government’s digital transformation agenda and support transparency and accountability in government.
The Digital Continuity 2020 Policy aims to integrate robust information management into all business processes to optimise government programs and services, enable information reuse for economic and social benefits and protect the rights and entitlements of Australians.
The policy builds on progress made under the Digital Transition Policy. The number of agencies working digitally by default has increased by 44 per cent over the period from 2010 to 2015, with 74 per cent of agencies reporting they currently manage most records digitally. This percentage is expected to increase with the policy requirement that any records created digitally after 2015 will only be accepted by the Archives in digital formats. The move to digital information management has also reduced the cost of storing physical records by $94 million per annum across government with agencies reporting the annual cost of storing physical records in 2015 as $126 million, compared to $220 million in 2010.
There has also been strong improvement in digital transition over the past 12 months, with the percentage of agencies stating they are performing well increasing by 10 per cent, and the percentage who are only beginning their transition to digital information management decreasing proportionately. Less than 36 per cent of agencies are now in the early stages of digital transition, while almost 6 per cent state they are optimising the benefits of fully digital information management. A further 59 per cent have transformed some business processes and are managing most records digitally.
While progress has been made in digital information management, there is still room for improvement, particularly in the areas of retention and migration of digital information, and in optimising the cost-benefits of managing information digitally. As the Learning from Failure [Shergold] Report asserts, Government cannot be complacent about the risks involved in poor information management. Agencies need to take action over the next four years and beyond to ensure they achieve the highest levels of information maturity. It is the Archives' responsibility to take all necessary steps to assist agencies in their progress towards digital information continuity by 2020.
Information governance and effective digital information management are central to the Government's digital transformation agenda. Through its lead role in implementing the Digital Continuity 2020 Policy, the Archives is providing a foundation for digital transformation across the Australian Government.
The National Archives is an Executive Agency within the Attorney-General's portfolio and was established under the Archives Act 1983. Its role is to promote the creation, management and preservation of Commonwealth information and records and to facilitate Australians' access to the national archival collection, which reflects our heritage and identity. Under the Act, 'Commonwealth records' covers all information in digital and non-digital formats that is created, used or received as part of Government business.
The Archives works with Australian Government agencies to achieve the common goal of reliable and secure information that is available to meet the needs of Government and the community for as long as required. Through the development and provision of strategic direction, standards, and advice, the Archives provides the foundations to ensure the Australian Government is transparent and accountable, makes informed decisions and protects the rights and entitlements of stakeholders.
As required by the Digital Continuity 2020 Policy, this report to you is based on annual surveys of information management in agencies and outlines progress towards digital continuity. It identifies achievements in information management capability and performance as well as areas for improvements and outlines the steps the Archives is taking to drive change in information management practices across the Australian Government.
Government information is a key government asset and a valuable national resource. It underpins the digital economy and is an enabler for e-Government.
Digital information can be readily reused, repurposed, analysed and shared for economic and social benefits. Ready access to reliable and relevant information also enables better decision-making, faster service delivery and increased innovation. Effective digital information management in agencies complements the work of the Digital Transformation Office to make government information and services easier for citizens to find, use and consume.
Digital information governance delivers substantial benefits in efficiency, effectiveness and accountability to organisations. Compliance costs are reduced and the ability to provide accurate, timely and transparent responses to legislative and regulatory requirements is enhanced. Digital business processes also provide substantial productivity benefits over paper processes. They are quicker and more cost-effective, and enable evidence of decisions and transactions to be captured as part of the business process. However, to realise the full potential of a digital, networked economy, government information needs to be managed effectively and efficiently in digital formats throughout its life.
The value of effective digital information management for efficiency and productivity gains in government has been highlighted in a number of recent whole-of-Australian Government reports. These reports indicate a need for clear and consistent whole-of-government information management policies and practices to enable streamlined, efficient delivery of government services and programs. This is demonstrated particularly by the recommendations in the Independent Review of Whole-of-Government Internal Regulation (Belcher Red Tape Review), and Learning from Failure [Shergold] Report.
The need for information to be open, available and readily accessible to support accountability as well as engagement with Australian citizens has been demonstrated by the recommendations in the Inquiry into the Role of Smart ICT in the Design and Planning of Infrastructure report as well as in the development of the National Action Plan for Australia’s membership in the Open Government Partnership.
2015 marked significant progress in the transition to digital information management with the Digital Continuity 2020 Policy being launched by the Secretary of the Department of Finance, Ms Jane Halton AO PSM in October 2015.
The Digital Continuity 2020 Policy builds on the Australian Government's Digital Transition Policy (2011-2015) which aimed to drive transition to effective digital information management across Government for efficiency purposes. The Digital Transition Policy required agencies to transition from paper-based to digital information management. The Digital Continuity 2020 Policy provides a roadmap for agencies to achieve fully digital information management and associated productivity and efficiency gains by embedding information governance into corporate governance to ensure government information is valued as an asset and integrated into digital business processes.
The Digital Continuity 2020 Policy was issued by the Archives under the Archives Act. The Policy aims to integrate robust information management into all business processes to:
The Policy requires improvements in four key domains of digital information management by the end of 2020:
The Policy identifies the targets that agencies should reach by 2020. All targets are expected to be achieved as part of normal business reviews and ongoing technology maintenance and investment cycles. The Archives assists agencies by providing implementation pathways, interim milestones and supporting products, tools and advice.
Agencies report annually to the Archives on their information management capability and practices and in turn the Archives reports annually to Government to outline progress towards achieving digital continuity, and make recommendations for improvements.
Two online surveys were undertaken during the 2015-16 financial year to gather data on agencies’ digital information management capability and performance, and progress towards digital transition.
Participation in Check-up Digital is mandatory under the Digital Transition Policy, while it is on an opt-in basis for the three-yearly survey. Response rates in 2015 were:
Agencies have continued to develop their digital information management capabilities in 2015 but with still more to do. 2015 Check-up Digital results indicate good improvement from 2014 with the percentage of agencies who stated they were performing well across all capabilities increasing by 10%, and the percentage who are only beginning their transition to digital information management decreasing proportionately, as indicated by Figure 1:
SOURCE: ACIL ALLEN CONSULTING ANALYSIS OF CHECK-UP DIGITAL DATA
Improvement in capabilities across the three main areas (optimising business outcomes, addressing risk, managing business systems) is also evidenced by the average rating for each capability increasing slightly from 2014 to 2015, as shown in Figure 2 below.
|Section||2014 average rating||2015 average rating||Change|
Optimising business outcomes
Improves findability and accessibility
SOURCE: ACIL ALLEN CONSULTING ANALYSIS OF CHECK-UP DIGITAL DATA, 2014 AND 2015
Figure 3 provides a graph of all agencies ranked by their average maturity rating. The list of agencies is provided at Appendix 1. Agencies in the lowest third are only beginning their development of digital information management capabilities, with average scores below or equal to 2.5. While agencies in the middle third have made some progress, they also still have significant scope to further improve their capabilities in 2016. The highest third, with average scores of 3.1 or higher (and 13 agencies (8%), above 4) includes several agencies which are potential sources of exemplar practices for other agencies.
The Archives is further analysing the Check-up Digital data to identify the enablers for the top-performing agencies, to gain more understanding of the drivers of low maturity, and to develop targeted advice and assistance.
Note: Average score is calculated as the mean rating across all 18 capabilities for the agency. SOURCE: ACIL ALLEN CONSULTING ANALYSIS OF CHECK-UP DIGITAL DATA
Senior support of digital information management and digital system implementation remained the strongest achievements across the whole of government for 2015. This indicates continued strong momentum for digital maturity across many agencies and is illustrated by the following capabilities being the most mature2:
The greatest improvement across government was for the management of digital information in collaborative spaces and social media for which the average score across all agencies increased from 2.4 in 2014 to 2.8 in 2015, indicating an increased awareness across agencies of the need to manage information created on these platforms. Social media is often hosted on third party platforms and without proper information governance, this valuable information can be lost.
Across the whole of government, the primary areas for attention relate to retention and migration of digital information and the consideration of digital information management costs and benefits in business decision-making. Poor retention and migration processes can lead to the loss of valuable government information, while not considering the cost-benefits of digital information can deny an agency significant gains in efficiency and productivity.
The 2015 data indicates that3:
The average scores for these capabilities did however increase by 0.2 points from 2014 ratings, showing that there has been improvement across the board. The Archives will continue to identify strategies to improve these capabilities across government, as well as engage with individual agencies that require targeted advice and assistance to improve their digital information management maturity.
The Agency survey has been conducted approximately every 3 years since 2008 allowing for comparisons to be made prior to, and after the introduction of the Digital Transition Policy. Data provided by agencies indicates that substantial improvements in digital information management have been made. In particular:
Figure 4 shows reasons provided by agencies for not having transitioned to a digital information and records management environment.
Source: 2016 Survey of Information and Records Management Practices in Australian Government Agencies. National Archives of Australia / Orima
The Archives has undertaken a number of initiatives to promote the Policy and its benefits and to assist agencies meet the Policy targets. In 2015–16 a number of new products and services were introduced, and successful programs continued.
The Digital Continuity 2020 Policy was launched at an invitation-only event for senior Government officials in October 2015, with subsequent briefings held for other stakeholders. The Director-General, and senior leaders, of the Archives also presented the policy at industry and government forums, conferences and other events.
The National Archives Awards for Digital Excellence continue to recognise and promote excellence and innovation in the management, use and re-use of digital information by Australian Government agencies. The 2016 award winners are examples for government agencies to follow in meeting public needs, improving efficiency and productivity, and working to international standards in digital information management.
The Archives continued to actively engage with Commonwealth agencies through its Government Agencies Information Network (GAIN), face-to-face forums, training, workshops and conferences, as well as through its website naa.gov.au, e-bulletins and on Twitter. The Archives also continued to host a series of sponsored Industry Innovation Showcase presentations throughout 2015–16, to help both vendors showcase new ideas and products, and agencies to identify suitable solutions.
In 2015-16 the Archives produced a range of products, training and advice to build agency capability and support agencies in meeting the targets of the Digital Continuity 2020 Policy. Over the next few years the Archives will continue to release supporting products, tools, strategies, standards and advice to assist agencies to implement the policy.
Key products and advice delivered in 2015–16 include the following:
The Archives is undertaking further analysis of the surveys conducted in 2015 and 2016 and will develop additional tools and advice to assist agencies improve their digital information management capability and practices. In particular, the Archives will focus on:
The Archives will also analyse the results of high performing agencies to identify practices which may assist lower performing agencies to improve their capability.
Other strategies and tools currently in development include:
All products are being developed in collaboration with other Australian Government agencies, to ensure they are relevant and meet agency needs.
In line with Recommendation 18.1 in the Belcher report, the Archives will also publish this report, as well as summary reports of both the Check-up Digital and Information Management and Records Practices surveys to the Archives’ website. It is expected that the information in these reports will assist agencies to identify gaps in their capability and provide best practice examples as models.
The Archives recommends that you note:
The below table lists the agencies included in Figure 2 (p.8) of the report based on their average rating across all capabilities as reported in Check-up Digital 2015. Agencies are grouped alphabetically within thirds – those with a high level of digital capability maturity, those with developing levels of maturity and those who are just beginning the transition to digital information management (initial).
Implementation of Digital Continuity in the Australian Government, August 2016 (PDF, 591KB) – first annual report to Portfolio Minister on progress towards digital continuity in the Australian Government. The report is based on Check-up Digital 2015 and 2016 survey of information and records management practices in the Australian Government.