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Our regulatory role
We're the regulator of information created by the public sector. We make sure information is created and managed well, so that it supports transparency and accountability, the shift to digital government, and the rights and entitlements of New Zealand citizens.
The Regulatory statement outlines our role in administering the Public Records Act 2005 (PRA). It describes our philosophy for compliance and enforcement, framed to support and enforce effective information management practices. It also sets out the specific activities we undertake, and how they apply to compliance or non-compliance with the PRA.
Government agencies are the stewards for government information assets. This includes all the data that they create. They maintain and store information– not only for the agency, but for all New Zealand now and into the future. It’s part of every agency’s responsibilities to safeguard their information assets.
Each year the Chief Archivist reports to Cabinet on the State of Government Recordkeeping. Read the latest report, to find out why managing public sector information and data matters.
When government sector organisations create and manage information well, they can trust it, understand it, protect it, and find it. This means the public can access information about the work of the public sector, which is vital for the accountability and transparency of government. Good information management practices enable organisations to use, re-use, combine and analyse information. This improves the delivery of public services, informs policy development and helps to meet commitments to Māori.
This particularly applies to the management of digital information. Modern digital information practices must be designed to reduce the risk of mismanaging government information. Mismanagement is most likely to occur when technology systems and the structure of organisations change.
We are here to help government agencies design good information management. Good information management should be built into:
strategic ICT plans,
This is because evidence-based decision-making relies on accurate, trusted and accessible information. We want to see government organisations evolve their information management capabilities.
The State Sector Act 1988 describes stewardship as meaning:
"Active planning and management of medium- and long-term interests, along with associated advice. Public offices and local authorities are stewards for the government information assets including data that they create, maintain and store – not just for the organisation but for all New Zealand now and into the future. It’s part of every government organisation’s responsibilities to safeguard their information assets."
How do we ensure compliance with the PRA?
Although the Chief Archivist considers and responds to requests for intervention, the PRA does not establish a regime for investigating or resolving individual grievances about the management of public information. This contrasts with other statutes, such as the Ombudsman Act 1975, which establishes an investigatory function for the Office of the Ombudsman.
The Chief Archivist’s powers do allow responses to requests for intervention. Several tools are available under the PRA that enable this including:
Two key provisions in responding to requests for an intervention include:
the direction to a public office to report on any specified aspect of its information management,
and the power to inspect a public office’s records and information management practices.
The Chief Archivist issues standards for public and local authority records under section 27 of the PRA. These can be reviewed, amended or revoked and they must be developed in consultation with public offices, local authorities, approved repositories or others to which the standard will apply.
Standards issued must state whether compliance is discretionary or mandatory. They must also state to whom the standard applies.
The current mandatory standard is the Information and Records Management Standard. It applies to public offices, including state and integrated schools. It also applies to local authorities and council-controlled organisations.
Report on the State of Government Recordkeeping
This report provides overview of the key issues and opportunities for government information management and presents the results of the audits completed during the financial year.