On this page, we provide guidance for local authorities and their staff to make decisions so that their archives and records are sustainably managed.

New models of governance and management

Local authorities are exploring alternative ways to deliver their services, including their archives. They are looking at how to give better value for money, become more accountable and ultimately better serve their communities.

This can include options of devolved management or governance. Devolved governance can take many different forms, from contracting out elements of the service, to placing the whole service into trust with only initial investment from the local authority.

What is best for archives?

Archives vary in their collections and the visions for the service they should deliver to their communities. There isn't a single right way of running an archive service, but when considering devolved governance, the legal and operational structure needs to be appropriate for the collections, the user community and the legal environment. 

Also affecting archives and records are the specific legal responsibilities of the local authority to:

  • manage the information appropriately (including compliance with the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Acts)

  • care for and provide access to specific classes of archives

  • ensure the sustainable care of all the archives and records for future generations

These responsibilities remain with the local authority, even if governance is devolved.

General guidance on trusts and other forms of devolved governance

This practical guidance on developing sustainable services and improving them via devolved governance has been written for museums, arts and cultural services, rather than archives. However, it provides very useful support when considering the general issue of devolved governance.

What are the options for devolved governance?

These two guides provide a useful introduction to different models of devolved governance:

How do I make decisions about devolved governance for my service?

Devolving governance while ensuring sustainable service delivery is a complex process.

These guides can help local authorities through the decision making process and flag up key legal, financial and operational issues that should be addressed.

Archive Service Accreditation defines current good practice and agreed standards for archive services and provides guidance about how to meet the standard.

How can The National Archives help?

Contact The National Archives' head of engagement for help with assessing and developing alternative governance options for archives.