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Authority to retain digitised public records in electronic form only

 

 

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Background

Digitisation changes the form of a record by converting non-electronic information to an electronic form.

Under the Electronic Transactions Act 2002, a legal requirement to retain information that is in paper or other non-electronic form can be met by retaining the information in electronic form only, with some exceptions.

This means that the digitised (electronic) form may be retained in place of the original source form of the record, providing that the electronic form meets the requirements outlined in s25(1) of the Electronic Transactions Act 2002.

However, if the information is a public record, the Chief Archivist must also approve retention in electronic form only for a public office to meet the legal requirement to retain the record under the Public Records Act 2005.

In summary, providing that the Chief Archivist has approved retention in electronic form only, and the electronic form meets the digitisation requirements, Public Offices may destroy the original source form of the public record.
 

Purpose

The purpose of this Authority is to grant ongoing and general approval from the Chief Archivist to Public Offices to retain certain classes of digitised records in electronic form only. The Authority also outlines exceptions to that general approval.

Public Offices may then destroy the source record after digitisation. It is not necessary to obtain separate authorisation from the Chief Archivist to destroy the source form of the record.
 

Mandate

This Authority is issued by the Chief Archivist under s25(2) of the Electronic Transactions Act 2002:

(2) Subsection (1) applies to information that is a public record within the meaning of the Public Records Act 2005 only if the Chief Archivist has approved the retention of that information in electronic form.
 

Scope

 

Public Offices

This Authority applies to Public Offices. It should be read and applied by staff responsible for controlling and authorising retention and disposal actions.

 

This Authority covers public records in non-electronic form that are digitised in accordance with the relevant requirements of AS/NZS ISO 13028:2012 - Information and documentation - Implementation guidelines for digitization of records. The Chief Archivist has issued this document as a standard under s27 of the Public Records Act 2005.

 

Section 25(1) of the Electronic Transactions Act 2002 outlines the requirements for Functional Equivalence that must be met for a record to be retained in electronic form only.

The requirements are that:

a) the electronic form provides a reliable means of assuring the maintenance of the integrity of the information; and

b) the information is readily accessible so as to be usable for subsequent reference.

 

The Chief Archivist is satisfied that these requirements are met for public records when the information is digitised in accordance with the relevant requirements of AS/NZS ISO 13028:2012. Public Offices should refer to the for further explanation of Functional Equivalence.

 

Local authorities

Local authorities do not need the Chief Archivist’s approval to either retain records in electronic form only, or destroy the source records after digitisation, including records protected under the List of Protected Records for Local Authorities.

 

Local authorities may use this Authority to inform their own decisions about retaining only the digitised form of records, especially with regard to the classes of records excluded from the Authority.

 

Local authorities should read the Explanatory notes for retaining digitised local authority records in electronic form only.

 

Definitions

Approval to retain in electronic form

This Authority approves the following public records for retention in electronic form only:

 

Records digitised in business process digitisation or digitisation projects, in accordance with the relevant requirement of AS/NZS ISO 13028:2012.

 

Notes

 

Exclusions from the approval to retain

The following public records are not approved for retention in electronic form only:

  1. Records not digitised in accordance with the relevant requirements of AS/NZS ISO 13028: 2012
  2. Records that may not be able to fulfil their function in electronic form
  3. Records with intrinsic or cultural value, including records of high value to Maori
  4. Unique or rare records, or records with significant monetary value
  5. All records created prior to 1946
  6. Audio-visual and microfilmed records
  7. Records required to be retained in their original, non-electronic form, that is, records excluded from s25 of the Electronic Transactions Act by s14(2) or the Schedule to that Act, or any other enactment.

 

Notes

The Explanatory notes for retaining digitised public records in electronic form only further explains the exclusions from this Authority.

 

Excluded records may fall into more than one category. For example:

 

Disposal of the source records

The destruction of the source records after digitisation is a disposal action, and disposal of public records generally needs to be authorised by the Chief Archivist.

 
However, 25(3) of the Electronic Transactions Act 2002 authorises the destruction of the original source form of records covered by this Authority without the need for disposal authorisation under the Public Records Act 2005.

The decision to destroy the source record is one for each Public Office to make.
 

Disposal of the digitised records

The disposal of the digitised form of public records covered by this Authority must be authorised by the Chief Archivist under s20 of the Public Records Act.
 

The digitised form of public records will usually inherit the retention and disposal criteria applied to the source record.
 

Public Offices should refer to the Explanatory notes for retaining digitised public records in electronic form only for further information, including what to do if a Disposal Authority only covers public records in non-electronic form.

 

Applications to the Chief Archivist for further approvals

Public Offices can apply to the Chief Archivist for approval to retain records in electronic form only that are excluded from this Authority.

Public Offices are encouraged to apply to the Chief Archivist during planning for digitisation, before digitisation starts.
 

The process and template for applications is included in the Explanatory notes for retaining digitised public records in electronic form only. Only applications using the template will be accepted.
 

After considering an application, the Chief Archivist may not always approve retention in electronic form only.

Applications that cannot be considered

Public Offices cannot apply to the Chief Archivist if there is a legal requirement to retain public records in their original non-electronic form, that is, records excluded from s25 of the Electronic Transactions Act 2002 by s14(2) or the Schedule to that Act, or any other enactment.

 

Public Offices should refer to the Schedule to the Electronic Transactions Act 2002 or seek legal advice to establish which records are required to be retained in their original, non-electronic form.

 

Risk assessment by Public Office

The Chief Archivist’s approval to retain digitised records in electronic form only does not remove the need for Public Offices to assess for themselves if there are likely to be any unacceptable risks from destroying the source record after digitisation.

 

The risk assessment should consider factors such as: