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Digital continuity plan plans to boost Oz government's governance

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Australia’s National Archives has hatched a plan to get federal government agencies digitising everything, the better to preserve it for the future.

The new Digital Continuity Plan http://www.naa.gov.au/records-management/agency/digital/digital-continuity/plan/index.aspx has been developed because the Archives think “information today is more vulnerable than it ever has been … because lost, unreliable or poorly controlled information can have a significant impact on the quality and effectiveness of decision-making and other aspects of business.”

The Archives therefore insist that “digital information management needs to be considered as an integral component of business governance.”

The Plan offers six digital continuity principles:

1. The value of digital information as a business, evidentiary and community resource is understood and the information is managed accordingly.

2. The governance of digital information is integrated with agency governance, with roles and responsibilities clearly defined and allocated.

3. Digital information is authentic and reliable.

4. Digital information is discoverable, accessible and usable.

5. Digital information is managed digitally.

6. Digital information is managed, protected and preserved for as long as required and then disposed of appropriately.

To apply those principles, agencies are urged to conduct a review of their information assets and business processes to “to document the digital information created, captured and used in conducting agency business and establish its cost and value. The review also identifies opportunities for use of the information and gaps in information management that will then guide improvement plans.”

The review should consider digital and paper information, to assist in development of “transition plans” that help agencies “identify opportunities for transforming business processes from reliance on paper to digital formats.”

The Plan will get vendors salivating as it calls for agencies to put in place search and retrieval systems, backed by metadata repositories. Storage vendors also seem likely to get a few calls asking for explanations of tiering.

Just when those calls will land is not clear -in true public service style the Plan does not offer a timeframe in which agencies should make the efforts it suggests. ®

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