The implementation of disposal is a key element of effective information and records management. Disposal makes sure an organisation keeps information and records for as long as required.
Then, when no longer needed, it makes sure the organisation can dispose of their records appropriately. Within information management, disposal involves the decision making process which decides if an organisation will keep, transfer or destroy its information and records. These decisions will reflect the results of an organisation’s appraisal.
The benefits of applying disposal actions can include:
decreased record and information storage costs. For both digital and physical by either transfer to our archive or destruction
increase systems efficiency gained through better records control and systems effectiveness
adherence to the Public Records Act 2005 (PRA). By minimising illegal access or destruction of information and records reduced risk of privacy and security breaches
improved management of information and records
improved transparency and accountability of government information
Disposal under the Public Records Act
The Chief Archivist must give authorisation to public sector organisations before they can dispose of any public or protected records. The options for the disposal of public records specified by the PRA are:
transfer of control
The PRA applies to public offices and in some instances, to local authorities.
Public offices such as:
offices of Parliament
may only dispose of public records with the authority of the Chief Archivist. This also covers relevant records of contractors carrying out services on behalf of a public office.
The records created by a local authority are not considered ‘public records’ but do have their own coverage under the PRA. The Chief Archivist can declare any local authority records as protected records. This means a local authority must inform the Chief Archivist of any planned disposal of records declared as protected.
Under the PRA a local authority needs to consider the implications of any disposal decision it considers.
How to comply with legal disposal
The Chief Archivist approves the disposal of records by issuing a disposal authority. Disposal authorities describe what kind of records are created, how long they should be retained and how they should be disposed of. There are two types of disposal authority.
General disposal authorities
We issue general disposal authorities known as a GDA to help public offices decide what to do with common information and records. A GDA provides the continuing authorisation for disposal of business information and records which are common across organisations. For example:
GDA 6 Common corporate service public records (CSV 65 KB)
Public office-specific disposal authorities
For the records and information that are not covered by one of the GDAs, a public office will need a separate disposal authority. This authority will capture all the information and records created or received as part of the public office’s core business.
Disposal authorisation process
Public offices can start a disposal authorisation process for any number of reasons.
If your organisation needs to seek a disposal authority, the first step is to contact us . We'll discuss your circumstances and determine the best way forward. We'll provide the guidance and templates that you need to start the process.
The process of creating a disposal authority can take a long time. We work with public offices to make sure that their disposal authority is developed as smoothly as possible.
It's important to get your senior management and organisational support before you start this process. The details for disposal authority development varies between public offices. However, there are some common steps which are followed.
Step 1 Contact us
At the start of the disposal authorisation process one of our staff will work with you through the early stages. To get started please contact us .
Step 2 Developing an appraisal report and a disposal schedule
When approving the disposal of records the Chief Archivist must be satisfied that a systematic process has been followed when making and evaluating disposal decisions.
A disposal authorisation will need two documents to be drafted - an appraisal report and a disposal schedule. Your appraisal process and decisions will need to be documented in an appraisal report. This report will be critical in providing the context and justifications for disposal decisions.
The disposal schedule provides information about:
descriptions of the function or classes of records,
minimum retention periods with trigger points,
disposal actions for example transfer or destroy.
We'll provide the guidance and templates you will need to draft this set of documents.
Step 3 Submit the appraisal report and disposal schedule for review
Once the appraisal report and disposal schedule are drafted, they go through a two-step review process. First, the documents are informally reviewed by one of our staff. They'll work with you to identify areas that require changes prior to a submission for a formal review.
In the formal review, the documents are assigned to a formal reviewer. They'll work with you to provide a final quality check for consistency, logic and justification. This step will often pick up on issues which may need further clarification or consideration.
If issues are discovered, the appraisal report and disposal schedule will be returned for more information or correction.
Step 4 Intentions to dispose
Once the reviewer is satisfied with the appraisal report and disposal schedule it'll be submitted for approval. As required by the PRA it'll be placed on our website for a period of 30 days for public comment. This process is called Intentions to Dispose .
During this period members of the public can view and comment on the disposal recommendations. At the end of the period, the formal reviewer analyses the public feedback. Where appropriate, the appraisal report and the disposal schedule can be amended to reflect these comments.
Step 5 Disposal authority issued
When the public notification has finished, and final changes have been made, the final appraisal report and disposal schedule is approved by the Chief Archivist. Then the public office is issued with their disposal authority number.
Step 6 Disposal implementation
When a disposal authority has been issued, the authorised disposal actions should be implemented.
Applying a disposal authority and its actions to an organisation’s information and records is called Sentencing. For sentencing guidance, please refer to the Sentencing guide.
Last updated on 23 April 2021