Author: Government recordkeeping

Over the last two years Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) has completed surveys into the physical and digital record close digital record Definition Digital records are any records that are stored electronically.  These currently include digital Items and sub-Items. holdings close holdings Definition Collection - The whole body of records in any format that have been transferred into the custody and control of the Keeper of Public Records. of the Victorian Public Sector. The surveys asked Victorian Government agencies for details on the scope and storage close storage Definition The process involving placement and retention of data and documents for subsequent use. of their physical and digital records. These surveys were conducted to assist agencies in their storage, disposal close disposal Definition A range of processes associated with implementing appraisal decisions which are documented in disposal authorities or other instruments. and transfer planning. Results reveal a significant amount of physical and digital records are in need of either disposal or transfer to PROV as state archives close archives Definition Records considered to have continuing or permanent value that have been, or will be, transferred to the custody of an archival organisation; also used to refer to the buildings in which archival records are stored and to organisation that have responsibility for archival records. in the next five years.  

The surveys revealed

  • The Victorian Public Sector is holding approximately 446 kilometres of physical records created up until 1985, of which an estimated 47 kilometres are of permanent value in need of transfer to Public Record Office Victoria. 
  • Many agencies are incurring unnecessary storage costs because they are not destroying temporary value records when they reach minimum legal retention periods or routinely transferring permanent value records to PROV.  
  • Record transfer and disposal programs are not adequately planned or resourced in many agencies.   
  • Many agencies do not know the contents of the physical and digital records they hold and, particularly for pre-1900 records, are storing them in conditions which place them at risk of loss, damage or theft. 
  • Many agencies do not use standard risk management methods or tools for managing risks to records. 
  • In order close order Definition Physical records can be ordered for viewing in PROV’s reading rooms.  When a user orders a record, it is reserved solely for their use. to transfer digital records to PROV, records need to be generated in a VEO format. The surveys revealed the ability to generate VEOs within agencies is low, both due to technical literacy and available resources.


diagram shows physical records in storage as 3.16km of historic records and 443.58 as 20th century with 47km to be transfered


bar graph shows the growth of digital data in storage of being at a rate between 5 and 33% since 2012.


Key concerns to come out of the surveys

  • Costs and resources
  • Staff and system close system Definition Information system which captures manages and provides access to records through time. A system may be manual or automated and includes the processes, procedures and business rules required to operate it. capacity
  • Data security
  • Legacy systems and data.  


A pie graph showing transfer intentions over the next five years is 17% unsure, 37% intent to transfer and 46% do not intent to transfer



Agencies should ensure they have effective and adequately resourced disposal and transfer programs in place. The surveys reveal that PROV has further work to do to assist agencies to plan and undertake disposal and transfer of records and to understand their recordkeeping close recordkeeping Definition Making and maintaining complete, accurate and reliable evidence of business transactions in the form of recorded information. requirements. This is a major focus for us over the next four years. 

More information

Download the full Digital Records Report here.

Download the full Physical Records Report here. 

Download a summary here.