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TAGS Archival science, data, Data quality, David Fricker, Digital continuity, Digital libraries, Digital preservation, digital transition, Information technology management, metadata, National Archives of Australia, Open data, Open government, record-keeping, Technology/Internet
Australia’s national archives boss has become a global leader in data management. The passionate advocate for the value of record-keeping spoke to The Mandarin.
Once little more than “a big building with boxes of papers in it”, the National Archives of Australia is now front and centre in government information policy, according to its director-general David Fricker.
Formerly ASIO’s chief information officer and, later, deputy director-general, Fricker (pictured) took up the role at the start of 2012, six months after the federal government’s transition to digital record-keeping began. When it’s over at the end of 2015, all digital government documents will stay in digitised format and the archives will no longer keep hardcopies. This transition has also brought information policy to the fore, and the archives, as the lead agency, along with it.
“We’ve moved right upstream, so rather than being the perceived end of the line for records, we’re now right at the very beginning,” Fricker told The Mandarin. “We’re now having a much more active role in the way records are made, in digital format, the metadata that’s attached to those records, the access and management of those records, and of course their long-term storage and stewardship.”
While storing documents on hard drives is cheaper than in boxes — and efficiency is the driver behind the digital transition policy — “the real payoff” of digital record-keeping is in accessibility, according to Fricker. Access, after all, is what archiving is all about. The value of the information remains the same but the easier the access, the more powerful it becomes, and the possibilities for accessing digital archives are immense.
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Stephen Easton is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's previously reported for Canberra CityNews and worked on industry titles for The Intermedia Group.
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