Machinery of government changes

See our on-demand video and accompanying slides about processes and protocols to be observed following administrative change.

Latest Administrative Arrangements Orders

IPAA/NAA Machinery of Government Changes (video)

Transferring information and records following administrative change

Ensuring that the records follow business

Business activities and functions may be transferred between agencies as a result of administrative change. The records relating to any such business activities or functions should also be transferred. Records authorities that cover the transferred records can be used by the gaining agencies. In some cases, agencies can jointly control records. Websites that are about to be changed should be captured for transfer to the Archives.


What happens to the records?

Records relating to the business being transferred should go to the agency that will be continuing the work.

If the records are maintained in electronic systems, formal arrangements regarding access, security, compatibility and servicing contracts must be agreed to between the losing and gaining agencies.
The following guidelines will assist agencies losing or gaining records. These guidelines apply to all records created as a result of business.

If your agency is losing business activities

Identify all records relating to the business being transferred and provide the gaining agency with:

  • control records for series being transferred
  • copies of transfer documentation for records in the custody of the Archives or service providers.
  • copies of records authorities that relate to the transferred records.
  • details of storage, maintenance or other charges related to the transferred records.

If your agency is gaining business activities

  • check received records are complete against the control records, indexes and other lists or information supplied.
  • retain the records in their original series. Inherited records should not be re-numbered into current or new series because the original context of the records will be changed.
  • confirm which records are held by the Archives and service providers. 
  • ensure relevant documentation, including information about charges, contracts and outstanding debts has been received.

If records are needed by both agencies

If a series of records has some items in it controlled by one agency and other items are controlled by another agency, you can:

  • split the series so that each agency takes the items that it needs;
  • keep the series intact and formally arrange for one agency to hold the records on behalf of the other; or
  • copy the records, with one agency holding the originals and the other taking the copies.


A month after revised administrative arrangements orders are issued, agencies should have completed any arrangements for transferring the control of records and, where necessary, made the actual transfer of records.

Using Records Authorities

An agency gaining records will have a number of records authority (RA) options:

  • continue to use all or part of any previously issued RA gained from the losing agency
  • consult with the National Archives about amending the gained RA if there are changes in the nature of the core business or the records management requirements have changed
  • consider whether the records are covered under an existing general records authority.

Further information

Please contact the Agency Service Centre if you have any queries.

The Australian Public Service Commission has produced a publication Implementing Machinery of Government Changes to assist agencies.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019