It’s the inevitable future of e-government, with ministers declaring digital transformation “non-negotiable“, but for now real change still requires the public servants to be won over on the benefits of going paperless.
On Tuesday, the National Archives of Australia stepped into that “hearts and minds” campaign by releasing its Digital Continuity 2020 policy and offering its own digital expertise training to any agency that could use a bit of support figuring it all out.
Archives boss David Fricker and Department of Finance secretary Jane Halton launched the policy with a plea to public servants: fight the “tyranny of the small person” who stands in the way of progress just because they’re used to doing things their own way.
The policy has three principles:
- Information is valued.
- Information is managed digitally.
- Information, systems and processes are interoperable.
Interoperability, Halton says, is about letting go of “my way” and finding “our way”. She cited an experience many are familiar with, filling out forms for government where every agency has a slightly different way of asking for identical details like name and address.
By the end of this year, Fricker hopes that Commonwealth agencies will have identified all their paper-based business processes. From the beginning of next year, he wants agency to commit to keeping any digitally-created records in digital format and managed digitally through their life of that record.
Agencies are also asked to have an information governance committee in place by 30 June next year.
But they aren’t being asked to do all this alone. The NAA has offered a series of e-learning modules on digital record keeping, in easily digestible bites, to get the ball rolling. Topics cover how to make good choices about retaining or deleting records, legal requirements, good naming formats and managing email.
The Mandarin will have more discussion on the issues and complexities of this policy next week, including David Fricker on how privacy expectations will need to be considered as technology capability increases.