The State Records Act 1998 sets out the obligations of public offices, chief executives and public officials.
Below are key obligations as set out in the Act. This description includes new provisions under sections 12(5) relating to notices come into effect on 31 December 2022.
Amendments to the State Records Act 1998 relating to transfer of State archives also places obligations to public offices. This come into effect on 1 January 2024. Further details can be found in Museums of History NSW and Changes to the State Records Act 1998.
For chief executives
Section 10: Chief executives to ensure compliance with the Act
The chief executive of each public office has a duty to ensure that the public office complies with the requirements of this Act and the regulations and that the requirements of this Act and the regulations with respect to State records that the public office is responsible for are complied with.
For public offices and public officials
Section 11: Obligation to protect records
(1) Each public office must ensure the safe custody and proper preservation of the State records that it has control of.
(2) A public office must ensure the arrangements under which a State record that it has control of but that is in the possession or custody of some other person include arrangements for the safekeeping, proper preservation and due return of the record.
(3) A public office must take all reasonable steps to recover a State record for which the public office is responsible and that the public office does not have control of, unless the record is under the control of the Museums of History NSW or of some other person with lawful authority.
Section 12: Records management obligations
(1) Each public office must make and keep full and accurate records of the activities of the office
(2) Each public office must establish and maintain a records management program for the public office in conformity with standards and codes of best practice from time to time approved under section 13.
(3) The authority may permit such departures from the requirements of the standards and codes as it considers necessary or desirable to accommodate the particular needs of a public office or class of public offices.
(4) Each public office must make arrangements with the Authority for the monitoring by the Authority of the public office’s records management program and must report to the Authority
(5) The Authority may issue a notice to a public office requiring the public office to, as directed by the notice –
(a) conduct an assessment of its record-keeping processes and records management program, and
(b) provide the Authority with a report on the findings arising from the assessment.
Section 14: Obligation to maintain accessibility to equipment/technology dependent records
(1) If a record is in such a form that information can only be produced or made available from it by means of the use of particular equipment or information technology (such as computer software), the public office responsible for the record must take such action as may be necessary to ensure that the information remains able to be produced or made available.
Section 21: Protection measures
(1) A person must not:
(a) abandon or dispose of a State record, or
(b) transfer or offer to transfer, or be a party to arrangements for the transfer of, the possession or ownership of a State record, or
(c) take or send a State record out of New South Wales, or
(d) damage or alter a State record,
(e) neglect a State record in a way that causes or is likely to cause damage to the State record.
(2) None of the following is a contravention of this section:
(a) Anything done in accordance with normal administrative practice in a public office (as provided by section 22)
(b) anything that is authorised or required to be done by or under this Act, or by or under a provision of any other Act that is prescribed by the regulations as being an exception to this Part
(c) anything done by or with the permission of the Authority or in accordance with any practice or procedure approved by the Authority either generally or in a particular case or class of cases (including any practice or procedure approved of under any standards and code of best practice for records management formulated by the Authority).