Developing a records authority

The process of developing a records authority for your agency is a collaborative one. Your agency will work with the National Archives to produce a records authority that meets the business needs of your agency while ensuring that the wider interests of the Australian Government, the National Archives and the community are served.

The records authority process

Developing a records authority is a practical and flexible process which allows your agency to focus on information and records from one or several business areas.

The records authority process is:

  • an opportunity for dealing with information and records that may be creating storage problems or generating costs
  • able to provide a better understanding of your agency and the context in which it operates, including the risks associated with the core business and stakeholder interests
  • compliant with the standard AS ISO 15489-2002 records management standard.

Applying for a records authority is a one-step submission that identifies your agency's core business or businesses. It uses risk analysis to guide your agency's research and to identify retention requirements, and is supported by National Archives implementation advice.

The information for this submission can be gathered and collated from a range of sources, including legislation, annual reports, existing business analysis, interviews with staff and records surveys.

Before you start the process it is recommended that you contact us to discuss your submission and obtain an information pack.

There are six phases to developing the records authority process:

Phase 1 – Convince your organisation and get support

Contact us to see if your agency needs a records authority. If a need is identified you should get support from your senior management to undertake a records authority project. Check-up digital is a tool that can assist you to identify information and records management issues in your agency. To obtain an information pack for developing a records authority contact the Agency Service Centre at

Phase 2 – Discuss with National Archive (start up meeting)

Organise a meeting with the National Archives. This is often referred to as a 'start-up meeting' which is the formal commencement of the records authority process.This meeting will focus on the project expectations, requirements, responsibilities and scope. A 'start-up meeting preparation sheet' is available in the information pack and will help you prepare for the 'start-up meeting'.

Phase 3 – Develop a records authority submission

Preparing your agency's records authority submission will involve preparing a draft Records Authority with supporting information. This submission will require approval from senior management before it can be lodged with the National Archives. It is advisable that you test your draft records authority application before submitting it.

Phase 4 – Assessment by National Archives

The National Archives will assess the submission and focus on identifying 'retain as national archives records'. Comments and questions about the submission are discussed and resolved with the agency.

The National Archives acknowledges that you understand your business needs and in most cases, therefore, we will accept your recommendations for keeping temporary records.

Exceptions to this will arise if the rights and entitlements of particular stakeholders do not appear to have been addressed, if the suggested retention period could expose the Australian Government to some liability, or if the National Archives decides that records in a temporary class should be retained as national archives.

Phase 5 – Records authority authorisation

Once agreement has been received from your agency head, the National Archives will issue the Records Authority to your agency.The records authority will be issued by the National Archives to the head of your agency.

Phase 6 – Implement

The final phase requires your agency to advise the National Archives of the requirements for Commonwealth storage and preservaton for RNA records for each of your core businesses.

If you have any questions about the process, do not hesitate to contact us for assistance.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019