The role of the Departmental Record Officer

The Departmental Record Officer (DRO) leads on compliance with the Public Records Act and plays an important role in the management of information within government departments.

Why is this role needed?

  • All information created in government is managed through the provisions of the Public Records Act and related legislation
  • The DRO leads on departmental compliance with the Public Records Act
  • The DRO maintains the department’s statutory relationship with The National Archives and the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on National Records and Archives

What does this person do?

The DRO is responsible for information to be:

1. MANAGED from the point of creation until it is destroyed or transferred. The DRO needs to:

  • know what information is being created and held
  • understand the value of the information held, what it’s needed for, and the technology needed to support it
  • determine how long information should be kept, agree a policy for retention with the business, and ensure that information is disposed of in line with policy
  • ensure there are policies and processes to support compliance with information legislation
  • keep it safe – implementing digital continuity principles into departmental record-keeping process, as well as identifying and escalating risks to the availability and completeness of information arising from changes in technology or the business.

2. SELECTED for permanent preservation. The DRO needs to:

  • follow guidance from The National Archives on appraising records as part of good practice for information management under the Lord Chancellor’s Code of Practice (FOI s46)
  • identify information worthy of historical preservation under supervision of the Keeper and in line with The National Archives’ Records Collection Policy

3. TRANSFERRED at the appropriate time. The DRO needs to:

  • comply with the 20-year rule and the reporting requirements for it
  • ensure the access status of information (under FoI) has been determined before transfer
  • comply with standards as set by The National Archives for description and preparation
  • oversee its transfer to The National Archives or a place of deposit, in line with legislative obligations

A successful DRO will:

  • have clear lines of reporting to the Senior Information Risk Owner (SIRO), and be integrated within wider systems of corporate governance
  • champion a culture of good information management across the organisation, acting as a centre of excellence for advice and a hub for local information managers
  • work with colleagues across information management, ICT, information assurance and risk management e.g. Head of KIM, CIO, Security
  • build and maintain good working relationships with users in order to influence changes affecting the management or availability of departmental records
  • manage the relationship with arm’s-length bodies and agencies

 

The role of the DRO was first established in 1954 as part of the principle conclusions from the Committee on Departmental Records chaired by Sir James Grigg. In his report Grigg recommended that within each organisation a DRO be appointed directly responsible for ‘the care of its papers from the time when they are created or first received by the department, until they are disposed of, either by destruction or by transfer’.