Ministers' Office Handbook
Commencing 1 July 2014, Ministers are required to publish quarterly diary summaries of scheduled external meetings held on portfolio-related matters. Cabinet, commercial-in-confidence and personal information will not be disclosed. Nor will strictly personal, electorate or party-political meetings. (For details see Premier’s Memorandum 2015-05).
Retaining and Disposing of Records in Accordance with the State Records Act 1998
Guidance for Ministers’ offices on making and keeping records appropriately and complying with their obligations under the State Records Act 1998 is available at: https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/recordkeeping/resources/ministers-offices
State Records NSW provides:
- Advice on the retention and disposal of Ministers’ office records in the General Retention and Disposal Authority – Records of a Minister’s Office (GDA13). All Ministers’ staff must read this authority and understand what is required of them, and in particular part 1.2.
- Information for Ministers’ staff about their broad recordkeeping responsibilities in What have records got to do with me? and Recordkeeping reminders.
- Online training modules on records management and recordkeeping in the public sector.
- Guidance which may assist in the management of digital records in Managing email and Your responsibilities for managing email (online module).
- A Standard letter setting out access directions when transferring Ministers’ office records to the State Records Authority as State archives.
Creating and Classifying Records
Any information that is created or received by a Minister or their staff in the course of official duties is considered to be a record.
Records can be in any format.
Under the State Records Act, Ministers’ offices need to:
- Create and maintain full and accurate records of any official government business transacted by the office.
- Retain those records for as long as they are required.
- Dispose of those records legally and appropriately when they are no longer required. This may entail the transfer of permanently valuable records to State Records NSW (where they will be retained as part of the State’s official archives)
The classes of records and the authorised disposal action applying to them are set out in GDA13.
Possession or Control of Ministers’ Records Stored on the Ministers’ IT Network
Any information that is created or received by a Minister or their staff that is stored on the Ministers’ IT network, for all purposes while the Minister is holding that office, is taken to be in the possession or under the control of the Minister (for details see Schedule 2, Part 2, Clause 7 of the MOPS Act).
To minimise storage requirements for records that need to be retained by Ministers’ offices, the options to consider are:
- Where a record is held in paper format, scan it and store it electronically.
- Where a record stored electronically is printed for temporary use, do not retain the paper copy after use.
The following table provides examples of records and guidance to Ministers’ offices on their retention. This information should be read in conjunction with GDA13 which contains a full listing of records relating to Ministers’ portfolio responsibilities.
|Description of Record||Official/State Record?|
Paper copies of official/state records
No – do not retain the paper copy after use
Copies of records that are available electronically in the official document management system or the official Ministers’ office network directory
No – do not retain the paper copy after use and do not make an electronic copy
Paper copies of records that are publicly available on the Internet
No – do not retain the paper copy after use
Constituency, party political or personal records
No – if unsure err on the side of caution and store electronically in the official document management system or the official network directory
Yes – return to DPC Cabinet Secretariat when no longer required. If unsure err on the side of caution
State records created by a department or agency
Yes – the department or agency that created the record owns the record. Return the record to the responsible department/agency when no longer required. If unsure, contact the department/agency for clarification
All remaining paper and electronic records
Make a judgement call about retention (e.g., based on office needs and guidelines issued by the State Records Authority). For paper records which are to be retained, consider the option of scanning