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Year in review

Functional and Efficiency Review of the National Archives of Australia

The Advisory Council acknowledges the initiative of the Attorney-General in establishing the Functional and Efficiency Review of the National Archives of Australia by Mr David Tune. The review was announced in January 2019 with expected completion in July 2019. The council notes the high level of interest from the public, evident from the volume of submissions, and their expectation that the Tune Report will be published in a timely manner. The council notes that the review has been finalised by Mr Tune. The council looks forward to the release of the Tune Report and a favourable response from government.

Australian National Audit Office report

The Advisory Council was shocked by the findings of Auditor-General report no. 11 of 2018–19, Implementation of the Digital Continuity 2020 Policy, published by the Australian National Audit Office in October 2019. The report brings to light how significant the resource stresses are for the National Archives and how that is impeding the agency’s ability to lead the Australian Government’s digital information management transition.

The council is greatly concerned that the current situation, which, if the National Archives has not adequately overseen Australian Government information management, could expose government to significant risk of loss of information. The potential for loss of unique and irreplaceable digital records could occur at any time and in any department.

World War II service records digitisation

The Advisory Council acknowledges the $10 million funding provided towards digitisation of World War II service records of all Australians who enlisted. This figure falls well short of the estimated $15 million required to digitise the 1,060,000 records and properly preserve more than 140,000 service identification photographs and negatives. The council will continue to advocate for sufficient funds to complete the project, including the proper treatment of photographs, the assessment of personal information prior to release and the digital online publication.

At-risk audiovisual records

The Advisory Council is concerned about the imminent irretrievable loss of valuable audiovisual records held on magnetic tape. Due to the obsolescence of playback equipment and the deterioration of the medium itself, much of this magnetic tape material will no longer be accessible beyond 2025. Converting the remaining 160,000 items to digital preservation standard files will take a significant investment of $25 million before 2025 if this material is to be saved.