This glossary is not a comprehensive listing of all terms used in records management. Terms chosen are those used in the NSW public sector and the definitions reflect this usage. Where applicable, definitions are followed by a brief citation. Full references are listed below. Terms that have not been referenced are taken from State Records NSW's own publications.






Right, opportunity, means of finding, using or retrieving information. AS ISO 15489.1: 2017 Part 1, Clause 3.1
Under the State Records Act 1998, the public is entitled to access records over 20 years of age. Public access is authorised by public offices making access directions. State Records Act 1998, Part 6

Access directions 

A direction made by a public office to open or close a series, group or class of records in the open access period to public access.

An open to public access (OPA) direction allows access to anyone. A closed to public access (CPA) direction closes the records for a specified period. A CPA direction does not affect other entitlements of access. Access directions are made according to guidelines issued by the Attorney General.

Public offices can also grant early access to records that are less than 20 years old.

State Records Act 1998, Part 6


A group of records transferred at one time from the same source. May contain part of a series, or may contain one or more series. Bettington (ed.), Keeping Archives, 3rd edition, p. 633

Active records

Records in frequent use, regardless of their date of creation, required to perform current business operations, usually easily accessible to the user(s).

Also referred to as 'current records'



Major task performed by a business entity as part of a function. AS ISO 15489.1:2017 Part 1, Clause 3.2

The second level of a business classification scheme. An activity should be based on a cohesive grouping of transactions producing a singular outcome.

The scope of the activity encompasses all the transactions that take place in relation to it. Depending on the nature of the transactions involved, an activity may be performed in relation to one function, or it may be performed in relation to many functions.

See 'Function' and 'Transaction'. See also Business activity

ISO 16175-2:2011 Part 2, Clause 3.1

Administrative records

Records that are created to document and support the operational or administrative activities of the agency, such as finance, human resources, equipment and other facilitative operations. Administrative records are common to most or all organisations. Queensland State Archives: Glossary


Appraisal for managing records is the recurrent process of evaluating business activities to determine which records need to be created and captured as well as how and how long the records need to be kept.

It combines an understanding of business activities and their context with:

  • the identification of business needs, regulatory requirements and societal expectations relating to records, and
  • the assessment of opportunities and risks associated with the creation and management of records.
TR 21946: 2018, p. v

Archival value / enduring value

The ongoing usefulness or significance of records, based on the evidential, administrative, financial, legal, informational and historical values that justify the permanent retention of records as State archives. Adapted from: Queensland State Archives: Glossary and  Society of American Archivists: A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology

Records with archival / enduring value to the State of New South Wales and which meet one or more of the building the Archives policy objectives, by providing evidence of:

  • legislation, jurisdiction, authority and machinery of Government
  • policies, reforms, deliberations, decisions and actions relating to key Government functions and significant issues
  • the legal status and fundamental rights and entitlements of individuals and groups essential for ongoing functions of the State
  • contribution to the knowledge and understanding of the society and communities of NSW
  • the protection and wellbeing of the community the environment and the impact of government activities on them.
State Records NSW: Building the Archives Policy


1. <Records> records of organisations and individuals that have been selected for indefinite retention on the basis of their continuing value for legal, administrative, financial or historical research purposes.

2. <Repository> The name given to the repository in which an archival collection resides.

3. <Organisation> An organisation (or part of an organisation) whose main function is to select, manage, preserve and make archival records available for use.

Bettington (ed.), Keeping Archives 3rd edition, p. 633

Arrangement and description

The process of organising materials with respect to their provenance and original order, to protect their context and to achieve physical or intellectual control over the materials, and the process of analysing, organising and recording details about the formal elements of a record or collection of records, such as creator, title, dates, extent, and contents, to facilitate the work's identification, management, and understanding. Bettington (ed.), Keeping Archives 3rd edition, p. 634


An authentic record is one that can be proven to:

  • be what it purports to be;
  • have been created or sent by the agent purported to have created or sent it; and
  • have been created or sent at the time purported.
AS ISO 15489.1:2017 Part 1, Clause


Business Classification Scheme  

Born digital

Document (or object) that from the outset has been created in digital form.

The term is used to differentiate native digital objects from digitised material.

AS ISO 5127:2017 Clause

Business activity

An umbrella term covering all the functions, processes, activities and transactions of an organisation and its employees. Includes public administration as well as commercial business. ISO 16175-2:2011 Part 2, p. 3.4

Business classification scheme

Tool for linking records to the context of their creation AS ISO 15489.1:2017 Part 1, Clause 3.4
Involves the identification and documentation of each business function, activity and transaction and the documentation of the flow of business processes, and the transactions which comprise them. It can be used to support a number of records management processes.  

Business continuity planning

Documented procedures that guide an organisation to respond, recover, resume and restore itself to a pre-defined level of operation following a disruption.
Typically this covers resources, services and activities required to ensure the continuity of critical business functions.
ISO 22300:2018, Clause 3.28

Business Process

A set of one or more linked procedures or activities which collectively realise a business objective or policy goal, normally within the context of an organisational structure defining functional roles and relationships. ISO 30105-4:2016 Part 4, Clause 3.9

Business Systems

Organised collection of hardware, software, supplies, policies, procedures and people, which stores, processes and provides access to an organization’s business information. ISO 23081-2.2009 Part 2, Clause 3.3


A deliberate action which results in the registration of a record into a recordkeeping system. Adapted from AS 4390-1996 Records management, Part 1: General, Clause 4.7

Capture involves:

a)  assigning a unique identifier (either machine generated and readable, or human readable)

b)  capture or generation of metadata about the record at the point of capture

c)  creation of relationships between the records, agents or business

AS ISO 15489.1 2017 Part 1, Clause 4.7
The capture process can be written into business rules, or designed into systems to occur concurrently at the point of creation or receipt.  


Systematic identification and/or arrangement of business activities and/or records into categories according to logically structured conventions, methods and procedural rules. AS ISO 15489.1 2017 Part 1, Clause 3.5

Closed part

Part of a file that has been separated by date range from the active file to enable ease of content discovery (or in the case of a physical file handling). When a closed part is created, a ‘closed part’ reference is attached as the last action, so that no further documents are added.

See also 'File part'


Cloud/cloud storage

On-demand delivery of ICT services over a network, commonly over the internet, from a shared pool of computing resources. “Cloud” usually refers to where the solution is provided.

Key characteristics of cloud-based services are: 

  • On demand self-service
  • Broad network access
  • Resource pooling
  • Rapid elasticity
  • Measured service with unit based pricing.
NSW Government Cloud Policy, 2018


See 'Preservation'  


A group of records that belong to the same series, need to be kept for the same length of time, have the same storage requirements and are transferred at the same time.  


The knowledge necessary to sustain a record’s meaning or evidential value. Context
describes the ‘who, what, when, where and why’ of records creation and management
Bettington (ed.), Keeping Archives 3rd edition

Continuing value

Records that have administrative, business, fiscal, legal, evidential or historic value to the Public office.

Sometimes referred to as 'business value'

State Records Regulation 2015, Schedule 2


A person / public office has control of a record if the person / public office has possession or custody of the record or has the record in the possession or custody of some other person / public office.

An entitlement to control of a record is an entitlement to possession and custody of the record (including by having it in the possession or custody of some other person).

State Records Act 1998, section 6

Controlled vocabulary

Prescribed list of terms, headings, or codes each representing a concept. ISO 25964-1:2011 Part 1, 2.12


Process of changing records from one format to another AS ISO 15489.1 2017 Part 1, Clause 3.6

Counter-disaster plan

A plan for measures to be taken for disaster prevention, disaster response and recovery and the protection of high risk high value records.

The objectives of a counter disaster plan are to:

  • mitigate risks affecting records (e.g. storage, access etc.)
  • prioritise records for protection and salvage
  • outline what to do in different disaster situations
  • consider how damaged records may be recovered or treated.

CPA direction

Closed Public Access direction

See 'Access Directions'


Critical records

Records including data that is critical to an organisation's service delivery. Critical records includes information in all formats, including all information files that provide inputs to, and in some cases, outputs from critical business applications identified in the risk analysis. Also includes information entities such as data dictionaries, definitions of relationships, and codes used in computer applications

See also 'Vital records'



Carrying out the instructions (disposal actions) contained in a retention and disposal authority. See 'Sentencing' and 'Disposal'  

Current records

See 'Active records'  


The responsibility for the care and management of archives, based upon their physical possession. Custody does not always include legal ownership, or the right to control access to records. Bettington (ed.), Keeping Archives, 3rd edition, p. 634

Under the State Records Act 1998, 'each public office must ensure the safe custody and proper preservation of the State records that it has control of'.

The Act entitles Museums of History NSW to control State records, but does not require it to take custody of such records.

See 'Control'. See 'Distributed management'.

State Records Act 1998, section 11 and section 30


The process by which an archives, museum or library permanently removes accessioned materials from its holdings. Bettington (ed.), Keeping Archives, 3rd edition, p. 635


See 'Arrangement and description'  


Process of eliminating or deleting a records, beyond any possible reconstruction.

The process includes destroying all copies of the record. Destruction of State records needs to be documented.

Adapted from AS ISO 15489.1 2017, Part 1 Clause 3.7

Digital archive

A designated repository for the storages of digital archives, which ensures that archives are managed and protected, and able to be made accessible.  

Digital preservation

The processes and operations necessary to ensure the continued access to, and the technical and intellectual survival of, digital records for as long as they need to be kept beyond the limits of media failure or technological change.

This can involve activities such as the ongoing monitoring, migration and storage of records and metadata management.

Queensland Government (adapted from the Council of Australiasian Archives and Records Authorities': Digital Archiving in the 21st century

Digital records

Information in any format created, received and maintained by digital means, used as evidence and information by an organisation or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business, which is packaged with necessary data for submission, dissemination and archive AS ISO 17068:2017 Clause 3.5

Digital signature

Data which, when appended to a digital document enable the user of the document to authenticate its origin and integrity. ISO 14641:2018, Clause 3.17


1. Conversion

conversion of an analogue document (paper, microform, film, analogue audio or audio-visual tapes) to digital format for the purpose of preservation or processing

ISO 14641:2018,, Clause 3.18

2. Business process

routine incorporation of analogue records into business information systems where future actions take place on the digitised record, rather than on the non-digital source record

Adapted from AS/NZS ISO 13028:2012, Clause 3.3

3. Back-capture (project)

retrospective, back-capture of existing sets of non-digital records to enhance accessibility and maximize re-use

AS/NZS ISO 13028:2012, Clause 3.5 

Disaster plan

See 'Counter disaster plan'  


Range of processes associated with implementing records retention, destruction or transfer decisions which are documented in disposition authorities or other instruments.

Also known as Disposition

AS ISO 15489.1 2017 Part 1, Clause 3.8

Disposal action

A disposal action in a retention and disposal authority is a statement of the disposal decision e.g. retain a minimum of 7 years after last action, then destroy, or required as State archives.

A disposal action may also be considered to be the implementation of disposal decisions or the activity of disposal.


Disposal authority

See 'Retention and disposal authority'  

Disposal class / entry

Defined categories of records within a retention and disposal authority. Each class relates to a singular type of activity or group of transactional processes with the same minimum retention period and disposal action.  

Disposal trigger

The event from which the disposal date is calculated, for example 'last action' 'expiry of contract' or 'x years after date of birth'.  

Distributed management

Distributed management is a strategy whereby a public office, or other person, can enter into an agreement with the Museums of History NSW to have possession or custody of State archives.

Museums of History NSW retains control of the archives, while they are held in the custody of the public office or person, ensuring their proper management and care through the terms of the agreement.



Document means any record of information, and includes:

  • anything on which there is writing, or
  • anything on which there are marks, figures, symbols or perforations having a meaning for the person qualified to interpret them, or
  • anything from which sounds, images or writings can be reproduced with or without the aid of anything else, or
  • a map, plan, drawing or photograph.
Evidence Act 1995, Part 1 Definitions


Electronic Document and Records Management System  

Electronic Document and Records management System (EDRMS)

An automated software application designed to facilitate the creation, management, use, storage and disposal of a range of both physical and digital documents and records. Essentially it manages unstructured records and information. An EDRMS may also automate business processes such as workflows and approvals and be integrated with other business systems.  

Enduring value

See 'Archival value'  

Ephemeral record

Records of little value that only need to be kept for a limited or short period of time. Records that are ephemeral have no continuing value to the public office and, generally, are only needed for a few hours or a few days.

For example working papers, routine drafts, duplicate records and computer input records that meet the conditions for disposal under Normal Administrative Practice (NAP).

State Records Regulation 2015, Schedule 2, Part 1: 2 Definitions


Under the State Records Act 1998, a State record is an estray if it is owned by the State or an agency of the State but is not under the control of the public office responsible for the record (except as a result of being under the control of the Authority or of some other person with lawful authority).

Examples of estrays are State records owned by the State that have been abandoned or that have been removed from or transferred out of the control of the responsible public office without lawful authority.

State Records Act 1998, section 37


A disposal process whereby copies of a digital record (or group of records) are passed with their metadata from one system to another, either within the organisation or elsewhere. Export does not involve removing records from the first system. State Records of South Australia: Glossary


Functional Authority

Previously referred to as FRDA or FRADA



Organised unit of documents grouped together either for current use by the creator or in the process of archival arrangement because they relate to the same subject, activity or transaction. AS ISO 5127:2017, Clause

File format (electronic)

Encoding of a file type that can be rendered or interpreted in a consistent, expected and meaningful way through the intervention of a particular piece of software or hardware which has been designed to handle that format.

Note 1 to entry: A file may (or may not) be a container containing zero or more files of various formats.

File formats may be defined by a specification, or by a reference software system. Many file formats exist in forms with minor variations and many also in more than one version. Typing of file formats should be interpreted generously rather than strictly, but sufficiently precisely to distinguish versions where such distinctions have significant interpretive consequences.

AS/NZS ISO 13008: 2014, Clause 3.10

File part

A continuation of the same activity or transactions, placed on a new file because the previous file (closed part) contained too many documents to be easily handled, managed or accessed.

A file part generally has the same title followed by a part number (e.g. part 2), but a different file number to the closed part.

See also 'Closed part'



The physical form, medium or computer file format in which a record is maintained or information is stored. For example, paper, microfilm, email, image, Microsoft word document.

See file format for electronic records

State Records of South Australia: Glossary

Full and accurate records

Full and accurate records are sources of detailed information and evidence that can be relied on and used to support current activities.

Records regardless of form or structure, should possess the characteristics of authenticity, reliability, integrity and useability to be considered authoritative evidence of business events or transactions and to fully meet the requirements of the business.

Adapted from AS ISO 15489.1 2017 Part 1, Clause 5.2.1, and State Records of South Australia: Glossary


1. Group of activities that fulfils the major responsibilities for achieving the strategic goals of a business entity. AS ISO 15489.1 2017, Part 1, 3.11

2. Processes grouped together because they are directed to a specific strategic goal.

Note: there can be several hierarchical layers within this grouping, depending on how jurisdictions or organisations choose to break down functions. These layers can be called sub-functions, activities, actions etc.

3. The highest level of a business classification scheme.

SA/SNZ ISO/TR 26122:2012, Clause 6.1

Functional analysis

Functional analysis is a top-down form of analysis starting with the strategic goals and purposes of an organisation, identifying the programs, projects and processes employed to achieve them and breaking those programs, projects and processors down to the level appropriate to reveal the relationship between them. SA/SNZ ISO/TR 26122:2012, Clause 6.1
The purpose of this type of analysis is to create a picture of a function through groupings of business activities and transactions that could be linked to their business context, in order to identify relevant risks and records requirements. ISO/TR 21946:2018, Clause 5.7

Functional records

Records specific to a particular business role, function, or legislated responsibility. Functional records are specific to a particular public office or those that operate in the same sector (e.g. Health, Local Government, Universities).  

Functional retention and disposal authority

Retention and disposal authority specific to a particular business role, function, or legislated responsibility.

See 'Retention and disposal authority'


Functional thesaurus

A thesaurus that reflects the unique functions of an organisation.  


General Authority

Previously referred to as GDA and GRDA


General Authority

Retention and disposal authority for records common to multiple organisations and functions. Includes:

  • generally administrative records
  • common records that relate to unique functions.

See 'Retention and disposal authority'



Government Information (Public Access) Act  

High risk records

Records which are critical because they are the core business of the organisation. Accidental loss or destruction of such records could mean that the Public office is unable to deliver services, meet legal or regulatory requirements, or result in financial loss or loss of reputation.

High risk records may also relate to the needs for additional security for example to protect records containing sensitive, classified, or personal information.


High value records

Records that have continuing (business) value to the Public office and/or archival value to the State of New South Wales.

See 'Continuing value' and 'Archival value'


Inactive records

A record not required to meet immediate business needs, but which must be kept (in accordance with retention and disposal authorisation) to support business activities, legal or regulatory requirements, or societal expectations. Adapted from ARMA International definition.


The process of establishing access points to facilitate retrieval of records and/or information. AS ISO 15489-1: 2002, Part 1: Clause 3.11

Information governance

Processes by which an organisation obtains assurance that the risks to its information, and thereby the operational capabilities and integrity of the organisation, are effectively identified and managed. ISO/TS 22287:2019, Clause 3.10
An approach to managing information assets across an entire organisation to support its business outcomes. It involves having frameworks, policies, processes, standards, roles and controls in place to meet regulatory, legal, risk and operational requirements. Information governance is an essential element of corporate governance that must be aligned with business outcomes and risks. National Archives of Australia, Information Governance guidance

Information management

Planning, collection, control, distribution and exploitation of information resources within an organisation, including systems development, and disposal or long term preservation. AS ISO 5127:2017,

Information risk

Any risk which relates to the quality characteristics and value of records and information in any form that is created, maintained, transmitted, manipulated, stored, owned by an organisation  

Information security

Preservation of confidentiality, integrity and availability of information. In addition, other properties, such as authenticity, accountability, nonrepudiation and reliability can also be involved. ISO 27000:2018, Clause 3.28

Integrated pest management

A program of good housekeeping and cleaning, regular inspections and monitoring for pests. Bettington (ed.), Keeping Archives, 3rd edition, p.86


Characteristic of a record that is complete and unaltered; managed in accordance with established policies and procedures, protected from unauthorised access, with audit trails in place. Adapted from AS ISO 15489.1: 2017 Part 1, Clause

Intellectual control

Systems and processes associated with enabling the discovery of records and retaining their context. Includes registration, arrangement and description, classification, provenance, tracking, and the creation of public discovery tools e.g. finding aids Adapted from Ellis (ed.), Keeping Archives, 2nd edition, p. 472


Smallest intellectually indivisible unit of record material e.g. a letter, memorandum, report, photograph, sound recording. AS ISO 5127: 2017, Clause

Knowledge management

Range of strategies and practices used in an organisation to identify, create, represent, distribute, and enable adoption of insights and experiences. AS ISO 5127:2017,

Legacy records

Legacy records may:

  • document a function no longer performed by an agency
  • exist in a format no longer used
  • have been inherited from another public authority following a machinery-of-government change.
Queensland State Archives: Glossary

Machinery of Government (MoG)

The allocation or reallocation of functions and responsibilities between government departments and ministers.

Also referred to as Administrative Change

Public Records Office of Victoria: Glossary


The range of processes and tasks for protecting records from unauthorised access, loss or destruction, theft or disaster and retaining their integrity over time.  

Merged thesaurus

A merged thesaurus is a single thesaurus that covers both general and functional terms.  


Structured or semi-structured information, which enables the creation, management, and use of records through time and within and across domains AS ISO 15489.1 2017 Part 1, Clause 3.12

Metadata schema

Logical plan showing the relationships between metadata elements, normally through establishing rules for the use and management of metadata specifically as regards the semantics, the syntax and the optionality (obligation level) of value. AS ISO 15489.1 2017 Part 1, Clause 3.17


Process of moving records from one hardware or software configuration to another without changing the format. AS ISO 15489.1 2017 Part 1, Clause 3.13


Normal Administrative Practice  

Native format

The format in which the record was created, or in which the originating application stores records. State Records South Australia: Glossary

Normal administrative practice

The disposal of ephemeral or facilitative records without the formal authorisation of State Records NSW. See State Records Act 1998, section 22 and State Records Regulation 2015, Schedule 2. State Records Act 1998, section 22 and State Records Regulation 2015, Schedule 2


Open Public Access

See 'Access directions'


Open access period

The State Records Act 1998 entitles the public to access records over 30 years of age (the open access period). Public offices are required to make access directions for all records in the open access period.  

Open file format

Open file formats are:

  • machine readable
  • not 'locked' into a specific technology product or vendor
  • freely accessed
  • able to be reused with open source or free technologies.
National Archives of Australia: Open data and formats.

Open source software

Open Source software is software that can be freely accessed, used, changed, and shared (in modified or unmodified form) by anyone. Open source software is made by many people, and distributed under licenses that comply with the Open Source Definition. Open Source Initiative

Original order

The sequence or grouping in which archival records were originally accumulated or kept by their creator. Maintaining the original order preserves the context of their creation and the authenticity of the records. It also provides valuable evidence about the organisation and/or person who created the records. Bettington (ed.), Keeping Archives, 3rd edition, p. 635

Personal information

Information or an opinion (including information or an opinion forming part of a database and whether or not in a recorded form) about an individual whose identity is apparent or can be reasonably be ascertained from the information or opinion. Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 No 133. Part 1 (s)4 (1).

Physical control

Controls relating to the physical aspects of records in custody, in particular the controls around mentoring and tracking a record's location. Adapted from Ellis (ed.), Keeping Archives, 2nd edition, p. 476


All measures taken, including financial or strategic decisions, to maintain the integrity and to extend the life of documents or collections.

For example conservation treatment, digital conversion, migration, digitisation, environmental controls (temperature/humidity) and physical housing.

AS ISO 5127: 2017,


An individual’s right to control the exposure of information about themselves, their views and their behaviours to others. State Records of South Australia: Glossary


The relationships between records and the agencies or individuals that created, accumulated and/or maintained those records in the conduct of personal or corporate activities. Bettington (ed.), Keeping Archives, 3rd edition, p. 636

Public office

Public office 

(a)  means each of the following—

(i) a department, office, commission, board, corporation, agency, service or instrumentality exercising a function of a branch of the Government of the State,

(ii) a body, whether incorporated or not, established for a public purpose,

(iii) a council, county council or joint organisation under the Local Government Act 1993,

(iv) the Cabinet and the Executive Council, 

(v) the office and official establishment of the Governor, 

(vi) a House of Parliament, 

(vii) a court or tribunal,

(viii) a State collecting institution, 

(ix) a Royal Commission or Commission of Inquiry,

(x) a State owned corporation,

(xi) the holder of an office under the Crown, 

(xii) a political office holder, other than the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly, within the meaning of the Members of Parliament Staff Act 2013,

(xiii) a body, office or institution, whether or not it is a public office under another subparagraph of this paragraph, that exercises a public function and is declared by the regulations to be a public office for the purposes of this Act,

(b) but does not include - 

  (i) the Workers Compensation Nominal Insurer established under the Workers Compensation Act 1987, or

 (ii) a justice of the peace within the meaning of the Justice of the Peace Act 2002, or 

 (iii) another individual or a private sector entity, except to the extent that section 8 applies.


State Records Act 1998, section 3(1)


Information created, received, and maintained as evidence and as an asset by an organization or person, in pursuit of legal obligations or in the transaction of business. AS ISO 15489.1 2017 Part 1, Clause 3.15
Record means any document or other source of information compiled, recorded or stored in written form or on film, or by electronic process, or in any other manner or by any other means. State Records Act 1998, section 3(1)


Making and maintaining complete, accurate and reliable evidence of business transactions in the form of recorded information. AS 4390-1996 Records management, Part 1: General, Clause 4.19

Recordkeeping includes the following:

(a) the creation of records in the course of business activity and the means to ensure the creation of adequate records;

(b) the design, establishment and operation of recordkeeping systems; and

(c) the management of records used in business (traditionally regarded as the domain of records management) and as archives (traditionally regarded as the domain of archives administration).

AS 4390-1996 Part 3: Strategies, Foreword

Recordkeeping requirements

Recordkeeping requirements are identified during appraisal. They arise from regulatory sources, business needs and community expectations that identify the types of records that should be created and the management framework needed in order to have, and accountably manage, all the business information that is necessary for an organisation.  

Recordkeeping system / records system

Information system which captures, manages and provides access to records over time. AS ISO 15489.1: 2017 Part 1, Clause 3.16
This can include business applications or systems which create and maintain records.  

Records continuum

The whole extent of a record's existence. Refers to a consistent and coherent regime of management processes from the time of the creation of records (and before creation, in the design of recordkeeping systems), through to the preservation and use of records as archives. Bettington (ed.), Keeping archives, 3rd edition, p. 637

Records management

Field of management responsible for the efficient and systematic control of the creation, receipt, maintenance, use and disposition of records, including processes for capturing and maintaining evidence of and information about business activities and transactions in the form of records. AS ISO 15489.1 2017 Part 1, Clause 3.15

Records management program

A records management program encompasses the management framework, the people and the systems required within an organisation to manage full and accurate records over time. This includes the identification and protection of records with longer-term value that may be required as State archives.  

Records processes

Sets of activities by which records are created, controlled, used, kept and disposed of by the organisation TR 18128:2014 Clause 3.2.2


The act of giving a record a unique identifier on entry into a system. AS ISO 15489.1 2002 Part 1, Clause 3.18
The primary purpose of registration is to provide evidence that a record has been created or captured in a records system, and an additional benefit is that it facilitates retrieval. It involves recording brief descriptive information or metadata about the record and assigning the record an identifier, unique within the system. AS ISO 15489.1 2002 Part 1, Clause 9.4


A characteristic of a record:

(a)  whose contents can be trusted as full and accurate representation of the transactions, activities, of facts to which they attest, and

(b)  which can be depended upon in the course of subsequent transactions or activities

AS ISO 15489.1 2017 Part 1, Clause 5.2

Retention and disposal authority

Documents authorised by the Board of the State Records Authority NSW that set out appropriate retention periods for classes of records. There are two main types:

  • Functional retention and disposal authorities authorise the retention and disposal of records unique to a specific business role, function, or legislated responsibility.
  • General retention and disposal authorities authorise the retention and disposal of records common to multiple organisations and functions, such records may include general administrative records and common records that relate to unique functions.

Retention period

Minimum period of time for which records should be kept to meet regulatory, business and community requirements before they can be destroyed.  

Risk assessment

Overall process comprising a risk analysis and a risk evaluation. ISO/IEC Guide 51: 2014, Clause 3.11
Assessing risks for records processes and systems should be included, where it exists, in the organisations general risk management program. Records professionals should take into account the organisations external and internal context and the context of the risk management process itself. AS TR 18128: 2015, Clause 4.1


See 'Metadata schema'  

Secondary storage

Secure off-site storage repository housing semi-active and long-term records pending their ultimate destruction or transfer to the State Archives Collection. This arrangement may involve a third party storage supplier. Adapted from Ellis (ed.), Keeping Archives, 2nd edition, p. 472

Semi active records

Records required infrequently in the conduct of current business.

Also referred to as semi-current records

AS ISO 5127:2017, Clause

Senior Responsible Officer

The Standard on records management requires each public office to have a designated Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) for records management.

Each public office should advise State Records NSW of their organisation’s SRO and keep State Records NSW updated with any changes to personnel undertaking this role.



The process of identifying and classifying records according to a retention and disposal authority and applying the disposal action specified in it.  

Series (Records series)

A group of records which result from the same business or recordkeeping activity, have a common system of control or relate to a particular subject or function, have a similar format, or have another relationship arising out of their creation, receipt and use. Bettington (ed.) Keeping Archives, 3rd Edition, p. 636

Source records

Documents or records that have been copied, converted or migrated from one format or system to another. The source records are those that remain following the successful conversion or migration.

Source records may be an original record or a reproduction generated by an earlier copying, conversion or migration process.

Queensland State Archives: Glossary


Senior Responsible Officer for records management  

State archive

A State record that State Records NSW has control of under the State Records Act 1998.  

State record

State record means a record made or received by a person, whether before or after the commencement of this section—

 (a)  in the course of exercising official functions in a public office, or

 (b) for a purpose of a public office, or 

 (c) for the use of a public office.

State Records Act 1998, section 3(1)

Storage facilities

Any building, that houses records, including commercial storage facilities, in-house storage facilities and archival storage facilities  

Sustainable file formats

File formats best suited for long-term accessibility. They are:

  • widely used and supported
  • identifiable and well documented
  • open or independent of any software or vendors
  • unencrypted
  • stable and backwards/forward compatible
  • minimally compressed.

Their specifications are known and trusted, and support metadata objectives.


Temporary records

Records that do not possess archival/enduring value.

Temporary State records have been appraisal in accordance with authorised retention and disposal authorities, these records are kept for a specific period of time to meet legislative, business or community requirements, once this time expires the records can be destroyed.



Controlled and structured vocabulary in which concepts are represented by terms, organised so that relationships between concepts are made explicit and preferred terms are accompanied by lead-in entries for synonyms and quasi-synonyms.

The purpose of a thesaurus is to guide both the indexer and the searcher to select the same preferred term or combination of preferred terms to represent a given subject. For this reason a thesaurus is optimised for human navigability and terminological coverage of a domain.

AS ISO 5127:2017, Clause

Time-expired records

Temporary records which are no longer required to support business and legal requirement and have passed the nominated date for destruction. Adapted from Ellis (ed.), Keeping Archives, 2nd edition, p. 480


Smallest unit of a work process consisting of an exchange between two or more participants or systems SA/SNZ TR ISO 26122:2012, Clause 6.5


Involves change of custody, ownership and/or responsibility for records.

Transfer of records as State archives is a formal process involving the removal of State records from the control of the public office which created or inherited the records, and passing control and physical custody of those records to the Museums of History NSW. Once this has happened, the records become known as State archives.

Administrative change prompts the transfer of State records between public offices to follow the responsibility for a function.


Unsentenced records

Records which have not been sentenced, subsequently their retention requirements are unknown. Unsentenced records cannot be transferred or destroyed, and often cost public offices money over the long term.  


A characteristic of a record that can be located, retrieved, presented and interpreted within a time period that is deemed reasonable by stakeholders. Adapted from AS ISO 15489.1 2017  Part 1, Clause

Vital records

Electronic or paper record that is essential for preserving, continuing or reconstructing the operations of an organisation and protecting the rights of an organisation, its employees, its customers and its stakeholders.

Also referred as critical records.

ISO 27031:2011, Clause 3.16

Work process

Work process is one or more sequences of transactions required to produce an outcome that complies with governing rules. AS ISO 15489.1 2017 Part 1, Clause 3.19



ARMA International (as cited in Marywood University glossary.

AS 4390-1996 Records management, Part 1: General

AS ISO 5127:2017 Information and documentation - Foundation and Vocabulary

AS ISO 15489-1: 2002 Information and documentation — Records management - Part 1

AS ISO 15489.1: 2017 Information and documentation - Records management - Part 1: Concepts and principles

AS ISO 17068:2017 Information and documentation — Trusted third party repository for digital records

AS/NZS ISO 13008: 2014 Information and documentation — Digital records conversion and migration process

AS/NZS ISO 13028:2012 Information and documentation - Implementation guidelines for digitisation of records

Bettington (ed.), Keeping Archives, 3rd edition, p. 633

Evidence Act 1995 (NSW), Part 1 Definitions

Ellis (ed.), Keeping Archives, 2nd edition, p. 472

ISO 14641:2018 Electronic document management — Design and operation of an information system for the preservation of electronic documents — Specifications

ISO 16175-2:2011 Information and documentation — Principles and functional requirements for records in electronic office environments — Part 2: Guidelines and functional requirements for digital records management systems

ISO 22300:2018 Security and resilience – Vocabulary

ISO 23081-2.2009 Information and documentation — Managing metadata for records — Part 2: Conceptual and implementation issues

ISO 25964-1:2011 Information and documentation — Thesauri and interoperability with other vocabularies — Part 1: Thesauri for information retrieval

ISO 27000:2018 Information technology — Security techniques — Information security management systems — Overview and vocabulary

ISO 27031:2011 Information technology — Security techniques — Guidelines for information and communication technology readiness for business continuity

ISO 30105-4:2016 Information technology — IT Enabled Services-Business Process Outsourcing (ITES-BPO) lifecycle processes — Part 4: Terms and concepts

ISO/IEC Guide 51: 2014

ISO/TR 21946: 2018 Information and documentation - Appraisal for managing records

ISO/TS 22287:2019 - Health informatics — Workforce roles and capabilities for terminology and terminology services in healthcare (term workforce)

National Archives of Australia, Information Governance guidance (

National Archives of Australia: Open data and formats. (

NSW Government Cloud Policy, 2018 (

Open Source Initiative: The Open Source Definition (

Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 No 133

Public Records Office of Victoria: Glossary, Version 10 August 2019 (

Queensland Government: Glossary (

Society of American Archivists: A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology, 2005 (

State Records Act 1998 (NSW)

State Records Regulation 2015, Schedule 2 (NSW)

State Records of South Australia: Glossary, 2015 (

SA/SNZ TR ISO 26122:2012 Information and documentation - Work process analysis for recordkeeping

TR 18128:2014 Information and documentation - Risk assessment for records processes and systems

Published 2003 / Revised 2014 / Revised 2019 / updated January 2023

Recordkeeping Resources