Why action is needed

Many government departments have schedules that state how long paper records should be kept but no schedules for digital information. This is in part because:

  • information is spread across a multitude of different electronic systems both inside the organisation (on EDRM systems, shared drives, databases, email systems) and outside (on the internet)
  • the traditional definition of a 'record' has changed, causing confusion about what should be kept

As the volume of digital information grows and ages, the urgency of this situation is increasing. However, in this changing environment one thing at least is certain:

  • Government still needs the same information to carry out its business functions whether it is in a paper or digital format.

In addition recent government data losses have brought the concept of 'information risk' and 'information assurance' into sharp focus and departments are now required to put in place rigorous procedures to ensure that their information is secure.

Benefits of deciding what to keep

It is therefore essential for government to take action now and decide what electronic information needs to be kept, and for how long, and to put this into practice. Doing this will:

  • enable government to focus resources on storing, managing and maintaining the most valuable information and to save money by disposing of information no longer needed
  • help to increase efficiency across government by making information easier to locate, share and reuse
  • enable departments to comply with information assurance/data handling rules and information legislation, such as Freedom of Information and Data Protection.

Further advice

For more information on the issues, risks and benefits, see:

Records Management Implementation Guides

Digital Continuity Service

Managing Information Risk (PDF, 3.70Mb)

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