Top tips for good inquiry management

When setting up a public inquiry The National Archives recommends the following activities are put in place to ensure the inquiry:

Where material has been deemed not of long term value, the justification for destroying the material needs to be documented in a transparent manner and this justification should be kept. For example, details of what documents have been destroyed should form part of the inquiry record.

Below are activities for each stage of an inquiry. These activities are by no means exhaustive however they will help an inquiry meet good practice and comply with the requirements of the Inquiry Rules 2006; this allows the chair to ensure that the record of the inquiry is comprehensive and well-ordered, and to transfer custody of the inquiry record to a department of Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom (HMG) or to the appropriate public record office.

We would expect an inquiry team to carry out the following activities:

Setting up a public inquiry

During its lifetime, the inquiry should:

  • manage their records in all formats in line with procedures and/or protocols created by the inquiry to ensure that the record of the inquiry is comprehensive and well-ordered
  • index (list) all information provided to the inquiry and identify the relevance of the information to the Terms of Reference of the inquiry
  • manage their evidence in line with procedures and/or protocols created by the inquiry
  • ensure it secures sufficient licences, or an assignment of copyright to the Crown, for any broadcast material and submitted evidence to enable re-use of this material by HMG. The default licence for re-use of Crown copyright material is the Open Government Licence. The copyright in the final report will rest with the Crown
  • handle all information in line with its data handling protocols
  • maintain its website in line with The National Archives’ website guidance and Government Digital Services Design Manual
  • regularly review its protocols to ensure they meet the changing requirements of the inquiry and appropriate standards

At the end of its lifetime the inquiry is responsible for ensuring:

  • records are disposed of in line with the agreed retention schedule either through:
    • transfer to The National Archives and/or the sponsoring department
    • the return of individual and organisational information to the original providers
    • or disposed of under the terms of the Public Records Act
  • records and metadata are reviewed for sensitivities and transferred in line with the inquiry’s data handling protocols
  • Crown copyright material is made available under the terms of the Open Government Licence
  • Copyright in all third-party material is acknowledged accordingly and licences are secured to enable further reuse by Her Majesty’s Government
  • the PDF versions of the inquiry report are correctly published on gov.uk immediately after the report has been laid before Parliament
  • the inquiry website is archived in line with The National Archives’ website guidance and content is reviewed regularly to ensure completeness of capture