Records appraisal and disposal

The creation of records during the normal business of an agency involves a substantial financial investment. 

The estimated cost of creation and maintenance of a single registry file for one year is $30.

Records can be divided into two categories, including those of continuing or archival value which have characteristics that need to be kept forever, and those that have no continuing value which are considered to be temporary only and may be destroyed when they are no longer relevant.

The maintenance and storage of records which have no continuing value (between 90 and 95%) is a substantial cost to an agency. 

The identification and managed disposal of these records, which have no continuing value would be a major saving to that agency.

Appraisal is the records management process by which these savings are achieved.

Appraisal

Appraisal is the process of evaluating records to determine:

  • which are to be kept for specified periods
  • which will be destroyed
  • which are to be retained as archives.

The process of appraisal involves the evaluation of records to determine whether they possess evidential value and/or informational value.

Records which have either of these values may have continuing relevance to the creating agency, the whole of government and eventually to the public for research.

Evidential value is based upon the function to which the records related for the office or person which created them. Records with evidential value serve as evidence of how that agency conducted its business.

Informational value applies to those records which contain information which is not only of interest to the creating agency, but also to researchers. Often records which have evidential value also have informational value.

The statement of appraisal characteristics (563.3 kb) can help staff identify records which should be kept permanently.

The records policy unit can give you advice and help to manage records which should be kept for specified periods.

The guidelines for the destruction of temporary value records provide information about the decision making process relating to the destruction of records. 

Disposal schedules

A disposal schedule is a document which lists the records created by an agency, their disposal status (whether a series has continuing value or temporary value), how long the records should be retained in that agency before transfer to archives, and if temporary, when they can be destroyed.

It enables unnecessary records to be destroyed as soon as possible to avoid storage problems. 

Disposal schedules are planning documents developed by agencies in negotiation with the Northern Territory Archives Service (NTAS) to manage the records of those agencies.

Knowledge of the sentence or retention period of records lets the agency regularly and systematically transfer records to NTAS to make sure only the most relevant records are kept in the agency, therefore managing the limited storage space most effectively.

Read more about general records disposal schedules and functional records disposal schedules.

Role of the agency

The process of appraisal and disposal begins with the creating agency. 

Only the creating agency can accurately describe the function their records fulfill within the agency. 

Agency staff are best equipped to recommend disposal status to records, as they are constantly dealing with the records and they understand their relevance to the agency.

Agency staff can provide a list of the series of records created by the agency. 

A series of records is a group of records which perform the same function and which were created and maintained using a consistent control system, such as a file numbering system.

Role of the NT Archives Service

Staff at NTAS are trained and experienced in the appraisal of records. 

They are also familiar with the research use of records and can identify records which have potential for research beyond the administrative use of the record.

The implementation of disposal schedules in agencies enables records of temporary value to be effectively managed and allows NTAS to focus on the preservation of records of continuing value. 

The preservation of records of continuing value protects the corporate memory of the Government, without which it would be unable to function effectively.

Last updated: 18 April 2016