On 27 October 2015, the Secretary of the Department of Finance and the Director-General of the National Archives of Australia (the Archives) launched the Digital Continuity 2020 policy (policy). The objectives of the policy are for entities to:
- manage information as an asset, ensuring that it is created and managed for as long as required;
- transition to entirely digital work processes, meaning business processes including authorisations and approvals are completed digitally, and that information is created and managed in digital format; and
- have interoperable information, systems and processes that meet standards for short and long-term management, improve information quality, and enable information to be accessible, transferrable, and re-usable.
The policy was issued under the Archives Act 1983 and applies to all government information, data and records, in addition to systems, services, and processes. The policy is to be implemented by all Australian Government entities, including Government Business Enterprises.
The objective of this audit was to examine the extent to which Australian Government entities have implemented the Digital Continuity 2020 policy, and how effectively the National Archives of Australia is monitoring, assisting, and encouraging entities to meet the specified targets of the policy.
To form a conclusion against the audit objective the ANAO adopted three audit criteria.
- Has the National Archives of Australia established effective arrangements to administer the Digital Continuity 2020 policy?
- Has the National Archives of Australia implemented effective monitoring and evaluation arrangements?
- To what extent have selected Australian Government entities implemented the Digital Continuity 2020 policy?
The audit has examined the administration, oversight, monitoring and evaluation arrangements for the Digital Continuity 2020 policy, and the extent to which three selected Australian Government entities — the Attorney General’s Department (AGD), the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and the Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) — have implemented the policy.
- The Australian Government is unlikely to achieve the objectives of the Digital Continuity policy by the end of 2020, and the National Archives of Australia (the Archives) has been largely ineffective in monitoring, assisting, and encouraging entities to meet the targets of the policy.
- The Archives’ arrangements to administer the Digital Continuity 2020 policy are limited in effectiveness. Appropriate governance arrangements to provide strategic direction and oversight of the policy were not maintained. The products, advice, and guidance material issued by the Archives to support entities implement the policy are largely fit for purpose, with some exceptions in relation to the clarity of terminology and timeliness. The Archives does not have a stakeholder engagement and communication strategy, and does not effectively target entities requiring additional assistance to implement the targets of the policy. Risks to the implementation of the Digital Continuity 2020 policy are not being effectively identified, managed, or reported.
- The effectiveness of the arrangements for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the Digital Continuity 2020 policy are limited. The priorities, objectives, and targets utilised by the Archives to measure its performance in overseeing the implementation of the policy have not been designed to appropriately align with the policy’s objectives. Monitoring and reporting processes have been integrated into an annual whole-of-government survey, however the performance information is not clearly aligned with the policy itself, is not subject to sufficient quality assurance processes, and does not include clear and consistent benchmarks to measure success.