Functions thesaurus

A functions thesaurus is a controlled alphabetic list of terms presented as a hierarchy and covers terminology relating to agencies’ unique or core business functions and activities. It can provide classification to three or four levels, allowing comprehensive classification of business information.

There are two functions thesauri available to Australian Government agencies:

  • Australian Governments' Interactive Functions Thesaurus (AGIFT) is a classification tool used to assist in resource discovery
  • Keyword AAA is a thesaurus of general terms created by the State Records Authority of NSW. It includes terms for functions and activities common to many organisations. Most of the terms for common administrative functions in AFDA Express are based on the classification scheme of Keyword AAA.

Australian Governments' Interactive Functions Thesaurus (AGIFT)

AGIFT describes the high-level business functions carried out across Commonwealth, state and local governments in Australia.

AGIFT contributes to the discovery of online government information and services by:

  • providing standard terms for government agencies to use in the 'Function' element of the AGLS metadata element set.
  • helping users to search government entry points when they are not sure which terms to use or which level of government has responsibility for the information or service they require.
  • providing a framework for government agencies to develop a more detailed agency-based functional thesaurus for their own classification needs.

Structure of AGIFT

AGIFT is a three-level hierarchical thesaurus. It contains 26 high-level business functions, each with second and third level concepts, as well as related concepts and alternative labels. Concepts can be searched alphabetically or via full-text searching.

  • Function – the broadest unit of business performed by government agencies
  • Level 2 – major tasks or areas of service undertaken within each function
  • Level 3 – topics addressed within activities.

For each concept, the thesaurus shows:

  • Definitions – notes that define and provide guidance on the use of a term
  • Broader Concepts – terms at a higher level
  • Narrower Concepts – terms at a lower level
  • Related  Concepts – terms that share associative meanings
  • Alternative Labels – other non-preferred terms listed under each concept they relate to.

Establishing terms and relationships in AGIFT

AGIFT uses the following standards to establish concepts and relationships:

AGIFT as linked data

AGIFT is now provided as a linked data platform. Linked data means that each AGIFT term has a unique and permanent URI coupled with a definition of what the term means to enable linkages to be made between AGIFT and other resources on the web. 

AGIFT as linked data can be used to link government datasets from different sources. For example:

  • AGIFT terms are linked to equivalent COFOG (Classification of the Functions of Government) terms.
  • Linking at a specific function level to a narrower subject or discipline controlled vocabulary such as the Health thesaurus maintained by the Department of Health.

In Linked data, the term 'concept' is used to refer to standard terms describing the subjects of a controlled vocabulary. In the case of AGIFT, 'concept' is used as a label for standard terms describing the business functions and activities carried out across government jurisdictions in Australia.

Changes from html version

AGIFT is now only published as linked data and replaces the previous html version.   

The content of both the html and linked data versions is exactly the same; however there are some structural and terminology changes:

  • Term in the former html version of AGIFT is known as concept in AGIFT as linked data.
  • The former html version of AGIFT used scope notes to provide guidance on how terms were to be used whereas AGIFT as linked data uses definition as the term for scope note. In both cases, the note content provides a definition of what the concept means as well as advice on how to apply it.
  • The former html version of AGIFT allowed hyperlinks from non-preferred terms to the preferred term. In AGIFT as linked data the alternate labels (non-preferred terms) are listed under the relevant concept without hyperlinks.
  • Concepts in AGIFT as linked data can be visually displayed  (Click 'Visual') to show the relationships between concepts from broader to narrower concepts and the relationships between related concepts.

Changes to AGIFT

The first edition of AGIFT was issued in 1999.  AGIFT was updated in 2005 (2nd edition) and 2013 (3rd edition).

3rd edition

There is one major change to the third edition of AGIFT: 

The addition of a new top-level function of STATISTICAL SERVICES with a new set of narrower second level concepts:

  • Statistical collection
  • Statistical design
  • Statistical standards
  • Statistics dissemination.

These new narrower level 2 concepts replace the earlier statistically related level 2 concepts (e.g. Census and Statistics) dispersed under FINANCE MANAGEMENT and GOVERNANCE functions. These earlier terms are now alternative labels listed under the new function of STATISTICAL SERVICES and its narrower level two concepts.

2nd edition

The major change in the second edition of AGIFT was the addition of INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS as a new top-level function, drawing together concepts relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Copyright and acknowledgement

© Commonwealth of Australia

The Commonwealth, as represented by the National Archives of Australia owns all intellectual property rights in AGIFT.
With the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, the National Archives of Australia logo and any material protected by a trade mark, AGIFT is provided free of charge under a creative commons attribution 4.0 cc by-nc-nd international licence

Creative commons logo

If you share AGIFT, you must:
  • attribute it to the 'National Archives of Australia' and refer to it as 'Australian Governments Interactive Functions Thesaurus', 3rd edition, 2013
  • link it to this website and
  •  share it on the same terms as this licence.

For enquiries relating to the use or attribution of AGIFT please contact


AGIFT as linked data files

You can download the entire AGIFT as linked data as either a XML/RDF or a JSON-LD file by selecting the download option from the AGIFT  website. Individual concepts can be downloaded in RDF/XML format only.

Keyword AAA zip files

If you wish to obtain a zip file of Keyword AAA please contact the Agency Service Centre for assistance and conditions of use.
If you have any suggestions for new concepts or comments on AGIFT please contact the Agency Service Centre.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019