Reviewing digital records management in government

Under The Public Records Act, public bodies are required to select records for permanent preservation, under the guidance and supervision of the Keeper of Public Records and transfer these records to The National Archives (or an approved place of deposit) no later than 20 years after their creation. Under the Act, records are defined to include not only written material but records conveying information by any other means whatsoever.

From 2016, public bodies will begin to transfer born-digital records, which are those records created originally in digital formats such as emails, documents and spreadsheets. Born-digital information should not be confused with digitised information which consists of analogue material (e.g. paper, film, photographs) that has been rendered in digital form.

Preserving digital records is a major challenge for archives across the world. The National Archives is leading the archive sector in embracing the challenges of storing digital information for future generations and making it accessible to the public.

Sir Alex Allan is a senior civil servant and has reported on born-digital records management in the UK Government. The National Archives has done research on the current digital landscape as well as looked at possible solutions to help departments with the challenges of managing born-digital records.

Sir Alex Allan was commissioned to conduct a review into the government strategy for managing digital records and archives.

Read our two research reports investigating the current digital landscape in government and the opportunity that technology-assisted review offers to help with transferring digital records.