General Records Authorities covering common business activities
General records authorities (GRAs) set out requirements for keeping, destroying or transferring records of business common to many agencies. The National Archives prepares and issues these authorities. The Administrative Functions Disposal Authority (AFDA) and AFDA Express are GRAs for a range of common administrative functions.
Below is the current set of GRAs available for use by Australian Government agencies. They can be viewed by a shortened or abbreviated title or by number. Agency specific records authorities are used for records of agency core business.
View by GRA title
- Accredited Training (GRA 33)
- Advisory Bodies (GRA 26)
- Cockatoo Island Dockyard Pty Ltd Arbitration (GDA 23)
- Contracts under Seal/Deeds (GRA 36)
- Damaged records beyond recovery – natural disaster, a defined emergency or other unforeseen circumstance (GRA 30)
- Data Matching Exercises (GDA 24)
- Digitisation, conversion or migration – destruction of source or original records after digitisation, conversion or migration (GRA 31)
- Encrypted records created in online security processes
- Establishing & winding up entities & companies (GRA 34)
- Governing Bodies (GRA 27)
- Grant Management (GRA 28)
- Images on unstable bases (GRA 35)
- Intelligence Function in any Commonwealth Agency (GDA 21)
- Outsourcing arrangements – custody of records (GRA 40)
- Personal Security Files – custody and ownership (PSFs)
- Public Interest Disclosure (GRA 39)
- Public or Official Inquiries (GRA 29)
- Research & Development (GRA 37)
- Small Collection Management (GRA 32)
View by GRA number
- GDA 21 Intelligence Function in any Commonwealth Agency
- GDA 23 Cockatoo Island Dockyard Pty Ltd Arbitration
- GDA 24 Data Matching Exercises
- GRA 26 Advisory Bodies
- GRA 27 Governing Bodies
- GRA 28 Grant Management
- GRA 29 Public or Official Inquiries
- GRA 30 Damaged records beyond recovery – natural disaster, a defined emergency or other unforeseen circumstance
- GRA 31 Digitisation, conversion or migration – destruction of source or original records after digitisation, conversion or migration
- GRA 32 Small Collection Management
- GRA 33 Accredited Training
- GRA 34 Establishing & winding up entities & companies
- GRA 35 Images on unstable bases
- GRA 36 Contracts under Seal/Deeds
- GRA 37 Research & Development
- GRA 39 Public Interest Disclosure
- GRA 40 Outsourcing arrangements – custody of records
- Encrypted records created in online security processes
- Personal Security Files – custody and ownership (PSFs)
Accredited Training (GRA 33)
This general records authority sets out the retention and destruction requirements for accredited training records of Australian government agencies that are also Registered Training Organisations (RTOs).
It covers gaining accreditation as an RTO, the planning, development and implementation of training programs, enrolment and assessment of trainees, the awarding of qualifications, and the monitoring of organisational performance.
Note: The authority does not identify any 'Retain as national archives' (RNA) records. RTOs that deliver accredited training in high risk business areas, such as training provided by security or intelligence agencies, or the Department of Defence, must contact the Archives for agreement to use the authority.
Advisory Bodies (GRA 26)
This general records authority sets out the retention and destruction requirements for all administrative and core business records of both statutory and non statutory advisory bodies. It covers developing and reporting on advice including supporting consultation, membership records, records of meetings and other supporting administrative records.
The XML and Excel files are truncated versions of the GRA for Advisory Bodies which may be useful for uploading into information systems. They should only be used in conjunction with the pdf version as they do not contain the full information.
Contracts under Seal/Deeds (GRA 36)
This authority covers Contracts Under Seal or Deeds (also known as deeds under seal, speciality, or speciality contracts). It sets out the retention and destruction requirements for contracts under seal or deeds of Australian government agencies. This general records authority identifies some records to be retained as national archives that will not need to be covered in future agency-specific records authorities. It also streamlines the coverage for temporary contracts under seal by combining records currently covered in the functions of Procurement, Legal Services and Property Management in AFDA Express. This general records authority excludes simple contracts, agreements and memoranda of understanding.
Encrypted records created in online security processes
This disposal authority allows and sets conditions for the disposal of encrypted records created during online security processes. It includes encrypted versions of inbound and outbound electronic transactions.
Establishing & winding up entities & companies (GRA 34)
This General Records Authority is intended to cover only the records of establishing, non-routine reviewing, for example as a result of non-compliance, and winding up of these organisations. It also includes the records of appointments, including statutory appointments, to these entities and companies and the personnel records of staff employed under legislation other than the Public Service Act 1999 or previous legislation.
It takes into account legal and organisational records management requirements, and the interests of stakeholders, including Commonwealth agencies and the National Archives of Australia to preserve the archival resources of the Commonwealth.
Governing Bodies (GRA 27)
This general records authority sets out the requirement for keeping, destroying and transferring day-to-day administration and operational records of an agency’s governing body such as providing secretariat and administrative support, minutes of meetings, arrangements for travel, leave entitlements, allowances, remunerations and membership appointment and separation records.
The XML and Excel files are truncated versions of the Governing Bodies General Records Authority which may be useful for uploading into information systems. These files should only be used in conjunction with the pdf version, as they do not contain the full information.
NOTE: A 'For Statement' has been added April 2012 under class 21581 to clarify that addresses/presentations made by Governing Body members are retained as National Archives under AFDA/AFDA Express.
Grant Management (GRA 28)
This authority is aimed at Australian Government agencies that administer grant programs. It has a similar format to the AFDA Express, with aggregated classes to assist sentencing projects.
Public or Official Inquiries (GRA 29)
This authority applies to the records of temporary, independent inquiries established by Australian Government ministers to inquire into and report on matters of public importance or public interest. The authority covers consultative inquiries as well as more formal Commissions of inquiry other than Royal Commissions.
Records damaged beyond recovery in a natural disaster, a defined emergency or other unforeseen circumstance (GRA 30)
This records authority authorises the destruction of records damaged beyond recovery in a natural disaster, a defined emergency or other unforeseen circumstance. It requires the Archives to be notified of records destroyed beyond recovery and the circumstances.
Records Relating to Data Matching Exercises (GDA 24)
The provisions of this Authority are consistent with the requirements of the Data Matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990 and the voluntary guidelines issued by the Privacy Commission on the use of data matching in the Australian Government.
Records Relating to the Commonwealth of Australia Versus Cockatoo Island Dockyard Pty Ltd Arbitration (GDA 23)
This disposal authority relates to the Commonwealth of Australia versus Cockatoo Island Dockyard arbitration proceedings. This authority is an exception to the general coverage of the other GDAs as it only relates to specific agencies concerned with the case.
Records Relating to the Intelligence Function in any Commonwealth Agency (GDA 21)
This disposal authority covers records relating to the collection, interpretation and analysis, and distribution of intelligence material related to the security of Australia and Australians. It can be used by any Australian Government agency and covers records created by or received by the Australian Government from domestic or foreign sources.
Removal of medical images produced on acetate bases and Photographic negatives produced on cellulose nitrate bases (GRA 35)
The National Archives of Australia has developed this records authority to permit the removal of some records on unstable media, specifically medical images produced on an acetate base and photographic negatives on a cellulose nitrate base from their containers or paper files, for preservation and management.
Research & Development (GRA 37)
This general records authority sets out the retention and destruction requirements for records created during research and development activities undertaken by agencies in support of their primary business function. It covers developing and implementing research & development programs and projects, developing methodologies, managing data, dissemination of findings, management of specialist facilities and conferring and receiving relevant awards.
Public Interest Disclosure (GRA 39)
This general records authority sets out the requirements for keeping or destroying agency records relating to public interest disclosure - disclosure and investigation of suspected wrongdoing in the Commonwealth public sector.
Destruction of source or original records after digitisation, conversion or migration (GRA 31) (2015)
The authority allows destruction of many original records after they have been copied, converted, or migrated.
The revised version has several changes from the 2012 version. These include:
- Retain as national archives (RNA) and retain permanently (RP) source records created from 1980 are now covered (previously covered from 1995)
- Audiovisual records are now covered in the authority
- Fewer overall exclusions and conditions to the use of the authority
- Born digital source records cannot be destroyed after they have been reproduced in paper or any other physical format as this would not provide functional equivalence to the digital source record
- More advice on identifying intrinsic value
Its application to RNA records created before 1980 will be considered by the Archives on a case-by-case basis.
GRA 31 can generally be used when a disposal freeze or records retention notice has been issued except where there is a specific exclusion. It can only be applied to records that are subject to the Eligibility to join a Commonwealth superannuation scheme disposal freeze, with confirmation from the Department of Finance. For more information please contact the Agency Service Centre.
Digitisation of physical records that are Retain as national archives (RNA) and Retain Permanently (RP) must follow National Archives format standards and verification processes.
- Scanning Specifications (pdf, 124kB)
- Scanning Specifications (doc, 40kB)
- Technical specifications for digitising audiovisual records
- Digitising accumulated physical records (pdf, 187kB)
- Digitising accumulated physical records (doc, 530kB)
Small Collection Management (GRA 32) (2011)
This authority covers the records used to manage small or incidental collections acquired by agencies through donation, purchase or as an outcome of operational activity. Examples include collections of rock samples, plant samples, confiscated items and other historical items and artefacts. The authority excludes collection items although where Commonwealth records are included in collections, the Archives Act continues to apply.
The Authority does not apply to agencies that have a special responsibility for managing and developing cultural collections.
Transfer of custody and ownership of Personal Security Files (PSFs)
This authority permits agencies to transfer the custody or ownership, as appropriate, of PSFs to State and Territory agencies or police forces in accordance with the Australian Government Protective Security Policy Manual (PSPF). Related to broader arrangements to extend the use of the PSM to State and Territory bodies, the authority facilitates the portability of PSFs for employees who move to other jurisdictions and require security clearances. The authority will be of most relevance to agency security advisers and staff responsible for managing PSFs.
Transfer of custody of records under Australian Government outsourcing arrangements (GRA 40) (2017)
This general record authority sets out the requirements for the transfer of custody of Commonwealth records to contractors providing services under outsourcing arrangements, either on behalf of or to the Australian Government.
It authorises the transfer of custody of Commonwealth records to contractors, provided the terms and conditions of the records authority are met. Only those records which are reasonably required by the contractor to fulfil their obligations should be transferred - all other records should be retained by the agency. The authority covers all Commonwealth records transferred to the contractor, including Commonwealth records created during the course of the contract.
Note: If it is necessary to transfer the ownership of original records, including records covered by the sale or privatisation of a Commonwealth owned entity, specific coverage must be developed by the National Archives.
Additional guidance has been produced specifically for contractors:
- Obligations of Contractors in Australian Government outsourcing arrangements (pdf, 306kB)
- Obligations of Contractors in Australian Government outsourcing arrangements (doc, 271kB)