A report by the WA Auditor General has found local governments are falling down when it comes to record keeping, exposing themselves to unnecessary costs, inefficiencies and potential breaches relating to personal data.
The 137 local governments and 9 regional councils that were checked have record keeping plans approved by the State Records Commission, as required.
However, some of the councils reviewed were not effectively implementing them, or managing their records to promote accountable and transparent decision making. Record keeping tools that support implementation, such as policies and procedures, training, and monitoring were not adequately developed. LGs could also do more to better protect their digital records.
Key findings of the report were:
Record keeping plans are approved but lack supporting policies and procedures.
Record keeping plans are current and approved.
Record keeping plans are not supported by adequate LG policies and procedures.
Implementation of record keeping plans is poor.
More regular and thorough records training is needed.
LGs do limited monitoring of staff records management practice.
Records are often held too long.
Important records are not properly managed.
Some records were missing or difficult to find.
Records were often stored outside records management systems.
Protection of records is mixed.
Physical records were generally well managed.
Digital records recovery could be better.
The report recommended that all local governments should review their record keeping policies and procedures to ensure that they adequately support their record keeping plans.
To this end, the report recommended that local governments should implement:
regular and thorough records training
regular reviews of staff record keeping practices
timely disposal of records
adequate protection over digital records.
The report, Records Management in Local Government, can be found here.