Responsibilities of the National Archives and Australian Government Agencies

In the Australian Government context, both agencies and the National Archives have responsibilities for ensuring that records and information are properly managed. This is supported by the Government's legislative framework.

The Archives and agencies have the following roles and responsibilities in records and information management:

The National Archives:

  • develops records management policies and standards for the Australian Government
  • provides records management advice, guidance and training to agencies
  • authorises the retention and destruction of Commonwealth records by issuing records authorities
  • stores, protects and makes accessible records of enduring significance which are identified as archival resources of the Commonwealth and selected for retention as 'national archives'.


  • create and maintain full and accurate records of their business
  • develop and implement agency specific information and records management policies and procedures
  • establish clear lines of responsibility for records management and ensure that staff are trained to carry out their records management responsibilities
  • work in consultation with the National Archives to develop Records Authorities
  • provide adequate resources for records management activities.

We work with a range of government agencies towards the common goals of achieving full, accurate and secure information and records. These agencies include:

Australian National Audit Office

The Australian National Audit Office's (ANAO) provides independent review of the performance and accountability of Australian Government agencies and entities. Australian Government agencies document their work and demonstrate their accountability through keeping good records. In auditing the Australian Government, the ANAO uses these records to understand what actions have been taken, when and by whom.

The ANAO has also addressed recordkeeping as a specific issue in four audits since 2002. These reports are:

Department of Finance

The Department of Finance, through Whole of Government Information and Communications Technology, provides direction, advice, tools, and services to help government agencies and organisations use information and communications technologies (ICT) to improve administration and service delivery. This role was formerly administered by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO). Key documents are:

Australian Public Service Commission

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) works with agencies to deliver their priorities through good practice in managing people in the Australian Public Service (APS). It also assists staff to develop their skills and knowledge, and will support you to embed ethical behaviours in your agency.

Information and records management meets the APS Values and Code in practice – Section 1.3 Managing official information. There are a number of APSC publications that can assist with your agency's information and records management responsibilities. These are:

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is an independent statutory agency established under the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010. It is responsible for freedom of information functions, privacy functions and information policy functions.

This includes:

Attorney-General's Department

The Attorney-General's Department (AGD) provides support to the Government in the maintenance and improvement of Australia's system of law and justice and its national security and emergency management systems. As a part of this role it maintains the Australian Government Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF). This framework sets out policy and guidance designed to provide Australian Government information, functions, resources, employees and clients with protection against security threats.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

The principal function of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) is to provide policy advice to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet on matters that are at the forefront of public and government administration. There are two:

The guidelines and procedures produced by PM&C provide advice and guidance to Australian Government on handling Cabinet, and Federal Executive Council information and records.

The Public Data Branch of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is responsible for the coordination of spatial data management, including spatial data assets across Australian Government agencies. This role was formerly administered by the Office of Spatial Policy and Data Policy Branch. Please contact for further information.

Australian Signals Directorate

The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) is Australia's national authority for signals intelligence and information security. It is responsible for producing ICT security policy and standards for the Australian Government and publishes them in the Australian Government Information Security Manual (ISM). This manual provides direction and guidance to Australian Government agencies on how to protect their ICT systems. It complements the Australian Government Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF).

Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman

The Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman considers and investigates complaints from people who believe they have been treated unfairly or unreasonably by an Australian Government department or agency. Following the investigation of complaints it makes recommendations to bring about significant improvements in the quality of government administration.

It produces reports, better practice guides and other information for agencies to assist them with good administration. Examples include:


The Senate is one of two houses of the Australian Federal Parliament and consists of Senators from each of the six states and the mainland territories. It shares the power to make laws with the House of Representatives. Every six months each Australian Government department and agency should place on its website an indexed list of all files relating to policy advice, development of legislation and other matters of public administration. These lists are commonly referred to as the 'Harradine reports'.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019