This Operational Procedure is issued under the authority of the Commissioner and should be read together with the ACNC Policy Framework which sets out the scope, context and definitions common to our Policy Documents.

Operational Procedure Statement

This Operational Procedure explains how to use the ACNC’s Corporate Policy on Normal Administrative Practice (NAP). It provides guidance about where NAP can be used and what low value ACNC administrative records and information can be destroyed as NAP in the course of normal business.

Context

  1. The ACNC's Corporate Policy and Operational Procedure for NAP:
  • are written within the context of the agency’s Information Governance Framework
    and related policies,
  • are consistent with the Archives Act 1983 (Cth) (Archives Act) and National
    Archives of Australia (NAA) guidelines,
  • apply to records in all formats,
  • identify the kinds of records to which NAP can apply,
  • may differ from other agencies’ NAP practices; what may be destroyed as NAP at
    another agency might not be permitted at the ACNC, and vice versa.

Overview

  1. The Archives Act generally only permits the disposal of Commonwealth records with the permission of the National Archives of Australia (NAA) or when it is required by law. However, the Archives Act also allows agencies to establish 'normal administrative practice' (NAP) policies and procedures for the destruction of certain ‘low value’ records. Unlike agency-specific records authorities, agency NAP procedures do not require formal approval from the NAA, however, the Archives Act does allow the NAA to give agencies notice to cease NAP practices of which it disapproves.
  2. Staff should be aware that they are personally responsible for decisions they make about deleting or destroying information using NAP. There are many exclusions and exceptions so it is important to be certain about where NAP can be used. Failure to do so could result in the illegal destruction of Commonwealth records.
  3. The ACNC’s managers, Chief Information Governance Officer, MOU and contract managers, and business system owners also have responsibilities in relation to NAP; these responsibilities are explained in detail in this document.
  4. Refer to the ACNC Corporate Policy: 2019/02 - Use of Normal Administrative Practice (NAP) for disposing of low value records and Operational Procedure: 2014/05 - Records management: disposal of ACNC Records for information on the ACNC’s records disposal obligations under the Archives Act. Some information from the corporate policy is repeated in this document to further demonstrate the exclusions and exceptions that apply to NAP.

How NAP is applied

  1. NAP allows certain types of records and information to be destroyed without the NAA’s formal permission. NAP does not override any of the ACNC’s other obligations regarding the disposal of Commonwealth records created and received as part of agency business; NAP can only be used for information that is not covered and does not need to be covered by a records authority.
  2. Disposal as NAP generally occurs because the records/information are:
  • duplicated;
  • unimportant; or
  • of short term value only.
  1. A decision to destroy records as NAP should only be made after considering the context of the business activity that it supports. Is the retention or destruction of the record covered by any law1 or records authority issued by the National Archives? If not, is the record:
  • needed to clarify, support or give context to an existing record?
  • needed to show how the agency business was carried out?
  • needed to show how a decision was made?
  • needed because it indicates who made the decision or gave the advice?
  • needed to show when or where an event happened?
  • needed because it contains information on the rights or obligations of government or private individuals?
  • a formal draft of a Cabinet submission?
  • a draft of an agreement or legal document?
  • likely to form part of a record that will be needed to support legal proceedings?
  • subject to a NAP exception, records disposal freeze, or records retention notice2?

If the answer to all these questions is no, then you can consider destroying the record using NAP. If the answer to any question is yes, the record should be retained until its disposal can be actioned under an appropriate Records Authority or applicable law.

If you are unable to answer any of these questions, retain the record or information.

  1. The flowchart in Appendix 1 explains the process to be followed when deciding if a document can be destroyed under NAP. Simple guidelines for using  NAP can be found on page 5.

Information that may be disposed of as NAP

  1. There are five broad groups of information that can be considered for destruction using NAP:

Facilitative, transitory, or short term items
This includes general appointment diaries and calendars (but not those used to record matters such as interagency meetings or belonging to Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners), blank ‘with compliments’ slips, circulation copies of agency material (but not master copies), unsolicited letters offering goods or services, email that has been captured in business or recordkeeping systems, messages from email chains where the final email has been captured into a recordkeeping system, and spam email.

Rough working papers and/or calculations
Routine or rough calculations, including documents that have been incorporated into correspondence or a separate final document.

Drafts not intended for further use or reference
Drafts of reports, correspondence, addresses, speeches, planning documents etc. that do not contain significant or substantial changes or annotations, with only minor edits for grammar or spelling.

Copies of material retained for reference purposes only

Published material which does not form an integral part of the agency’s record
This includes advertising material received by the agency that is not directly connected to the ACNC's core business activities.

  1. For example, the following types of records may be disposed of as a NAP:
  • notification of social events
  • “courtesy” or “information only” copies of messages (including copied emails)
  • promotional material such as advertising, brochures, and flyers
  • copies of documents (including email) where the original has been filed
  • copies of financial records where the original has been filed
  • printouts or duplicates of agency procedures, manuals, guidelines, plans etc. other than master or authorised copies.
  • superseded manuals, guides, or instructions (except for ACNC publications, where the master set(s) including superseded parts are to be retained)
  • unsolicited publications
  • office reference copies of external publications, reports, manuals
  • catalogues and journals
  • information copies of press cuttings, press statements or publicity material
  • statistical and progress reports compiled and duplicated in other reports
  • some rough drafts of reports and correspondence (e.g. work in progress drafts, those with typographic edits, where the final version does not contain significant or substantial changes, or when there are annotations to the draft)
  • telephone messages of no consequence (important messages should be captured)
  • personal emails that are not in any way related to work.

Information that cannot be disposed of as NAP

  1. NAP cannot be used to:
  • destroy records which document ACNC operations and may have lasting value,
  • cull information within a file or records,
  • destroy a business-related email before it becomes part of the formal record,
  • destroy registered records,
  • destroy information or records expressly listed as NAP exceptions.

NAP Exceptions

  1. The following items are NAP Exceptions and cannot be destroyed under NAP:
  • Information that is required to be kept by law (including by a records authority, records disposal freeze, or records retention notice).
  • Information that is required to be kept under an agency policy, procedure, or guideline.
  • Information that is a draft of an agreement or other legal document.
  • Information that is needed to document a significant issue.
  • Information that is needed to clarify, support or give context to an existing record.
  • Information that is needed because it indicates who made the decision or gave the advice.
  • Information that is needed to show how a decision was made.
  • Information that is likely to be required as evidence in current or future legal proceedings.
  • Information that is a draft of a Cabinet or ministerial submission.
  • Information that is needed to show when or where an event happened.
  • Information that is needed because it contains information on the rights, privileges, or obligations of government, organisations, or private individuals.
  • Information that is a draft or working paper that contains decisions, reasons, actions and/or significant or substantial information where this information is not contained in later versions and/or the document remains unfinished.
  • Research working papers.
  • Standards and guidelines working papers.
  • System logs which are used to show a history of access or change to data (e.g. system access logs, internet access logs, system change logs, and audit trails).
  • Records documenting the migration of records between electronic systems and from one electronic medium to another. Includes strategies for the migration and quality assurance checks to confirm accuracy of the migration process.
  1. If you are unsure, seek information management advice before destroying the information.

Simple guidelines for using NAP

  1. Use the following guidelines when considered destroying information as NAP. This applies to information in all formats.

Destroy/Delete with confidence

  • Non-business information such as personal unofficial emails, spam, unsolicited junk mail like ‘hot offers’, and non-business related material.
  • Duplicates of information that has already been saved in to an approved information management or business system.
  • External publications, catalogues, and offers that aren’t directly related to work.
  • Reference copies (not ACNC master copies) of newsletters, procedures, guidelines, manuals, and policies.

Destroy/Delete with care

  • Low-risk email messages such as system reminders and alerts, discussion lists, and RSS feeds, duplicate email kept for reference purposes, parts of an email thread where the full thread is saved into an ACNC business or records management system (it is ok to delete earlier messages if the final message containing the entire chain is saved), ‘for your information’ communications, email bounce backs (unless they are used as part of your work).
  • Invitations, diaries, and calendars (except for the Commissioner, SES staff, and senior staff involved with interagency/external operations - these must be disposed of in accordance with records authority requirements).
  • Duplicates of ACNC publications and promotional material. Note: the business area responsible for the publication has the responsibility to keep master copies.
  • Drafts, rough or routine calculations, and working papers - the nature of the draft changes determines the ability to use NAP.
  • Some information technology information such as backups / tapes created for business continuity and recovery, computer logs, and data clean-ups.
  • Documents prepared with the involvement of senior staff, these are often important and may not be appropriate for destruction using NAP.

Do not delete or destroy

  • Valuable business information that is required:

- for accountability purposes,
- for the ongoing efficient administration of agency business,
- to protect rights and entitlements of individuals, groups, or the Government, or
- because of its cultural or historical value, or to meet community expectations.

  • Business information held in work spaces such as shared drives (e.g. SharePoint), business systems (e.g. Dynamics), and personal drives (e.g. computer desktop and OneDrive).
  • Information that is subject to a Records Retention Notice or Disposal Freeze. The hyperlink opens a list of current freezes and notices. Topics that may be relevant to the ACNC include “records related to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety” and “Institutional responses to child sexual abuse”.

Responsibilities

  1. This section defines the roles and responsibilities of all ACNC employees to ensure that business information is appropriately destroyed under NAP:

All staff and contractors will:

  • be familiar with the ACNC’s NAP policy;
  • understand their personal obligations and responsibilities when using NAP;
  • only destroy information that clearly meets the NAP policy criteria when it is no longer required for business purposes; ensure that where  information is identified for destruction under NAP, the method of destruction employed is appropriate to the security classification of the content; and
  • seek guidance if there is any uncertainty over the use of NAP.

All managers and supervisors will:

  • promote understanding and use of the ACNC NAP policy to staff under their supervision;
  • incorporate NAP policy directives into their business unit work procedures, where appropriate;
  • liaise with the ACNC Chief Information Governance Officer (CIGO) in relation to using the ACNC’s NAP Operational Procedure or any barriers to its use;
  • advise the CIGO of any changes in the business environment which would impact on information management requirements, such as new areas of business that need to be covered by a records authority;
  • encourage and support the compliant disposal of information that is eligible for destruction under the NAP policy once it is no longer required for  business purposes; and
  • monitor staff and contractors under their supervision to ensure that they understand and comply with the ACNC's NAP Corporate Policy and Operational Procedure.

The ACNC's Chief Information Governance Officer (CIGO) will

  • endorse the ACNC's Normal Administrative Practice policy and procedures;
  • ensure that the NAP policy is adequate to the needs of the ACNC and is consistent with the agency’s Information Governance Framework and Information Management Policy;
  • promulgate the NAP policy and provide guidance to all ACNC staff;
  • promote compliance with the policy;
  • ensure that adequate guidance is produced to support staff in understanding and implementing NAP processes; and
  • review and revise the NAP policy as required to ensure it remains appropriate.

Information Technology (IT) staff will:

  • assist in incorporating NAP policy into the design and development of the ACNC's information management systems, including business and IT systems; and
  • ensure that any actions, such as removing data from systems, storage, or folders, are undertaken in accordance with this and other relevant policies including all applicable records (disposal) authorities and disposal freezes.

Staff with responsibility for the ACNC's information systems and associated services (including Directorate owners) will:

  • ensure that the NAP policy is incorporated into the design and development of the ACNC's information systems, including business and IT systems and used appropriately.

All contract and MOU managers:

  • are responsible for the insertion of information management provisions (including NAP) into agency contracts and MOUs with outsourced providers, contractors, and external agencies. (General Records Authority 40 contains detailed information on responsibilities in Australian Government outsourcing arrangements).

Suspension of NAP

  1. The NAA and ACNC Legal have the power to suspend NAP.

Appendix 1

How to decide when to use NAP to destroy information

  1. The flowchart illustrates the process of deciding when you can destroy a record under NAP. You can view the flowchart by clicking here.

Footnotes

1 Legislation that includes records disposal requirements includes the Privacy Act 1988 and the Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990.
2 Information about current records disposal freezes and records retention notices can be found on the NAA website, here.

References

APS legislative framework and policies

Archives Act 1983
Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990
Privacy Act 1988
Records Disposal Freezes and Retention Notices (links to active topics)
General Records Authority 40: Transfer of custody of records under Australian Government outsourcing arrangements

ACNC policies and procedures

ACNC Corporate Policy - Use of Normal Administrative Practice (NAP) for low value records, CP2019/02
ACNC Operational Procedure - Records management disposal of ACNC Records, OP2014/05 Information Governance Framework (to be developed)

ATO policies and procedures

ATO NAP policy, available via myATO, search for "NAP".

Version Control

VersionDate of effectBrief summary of change
Version 1 - Original document17/12/2014Initial procedure.
Version 2 - Revised document03/06/2019Updated in line with the NAA's 2018 advice on NAP. Clarification of rules for disposal of Commonwealth records. Additional references added.