Record keeping

You must keep accurate records to comply with both government policy and the law.
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What you need to know
  1. You must keep full and accurate records.
  2. Doing so is a legal obligation but will also help you answer any complaints or requests for public information.
  3. You need to keep records of meetings, project documents, working papers and emails.
  4. The government owns these records, not you.

The State Records Act 1998 outlines the record management responsibilities of all public office. If you work in NSW Government, you must make and keep full and accurate records that document both your operation and administration.

The Act defines a ‘record’ as any document or source of information you create or receive in the course of official functions.

Accurate record-keeping is important in government

Accurate records are your best defence against legal challenges. They can help you answer complaints, as well as public requests for information. They’ll also provide a useful audit trail if any of your decisions are ever reviewed.

It’s essential that you always keep accurate records of how you plan and manage any procurement and how you reach your decisions.

Know which records to keep

According to the State Records Act 1998, you must keep records of:

  • meetings, including details of dates and times, locations, attendees, key discussion points and decisions.
  • project documents, including briefing notes, approvals, conditions of tenders, plans, reports and contracts should be saved in your business systems.
  • working papers, including drafts submitted for comment, which can be valuable for explaining significant changes in planning or processes.
  • emails and letters should be captured in your business systems as, legally, they can be requested at any time.

The government is the ultimate owner of all government records. You don’t own these records, even when you create them yourself.

Your agency may also have additional requirements when it comes to making and keeping records.