This Corporate Policy 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 policies.

It should also be read in conjunction with other policies and procedures which set out the way the records should be classified, how they should be stored, and in what circumstances they may be destroyed or disposed of, namely:

  • OP2014/06: Normal Administrative Practice for Disposing of Low-Value Records
  • CP2020/01: Information Management Policy
  • CP2021/01: Transferring Records to National Archives
  • OP2021/01: Disposal of ACNC Data, Information and Records
  • OP2021/03: Transferring Records to National Archives

Policy statement

ACNC staff are lawfully permitted to use a concept known as Normal Administrative Practice (NAP) to delete or destroy certain low-value, duplicated, or short-term information once there is no longer a business use for the information, and where there is a low level of risk.

Individual staff, contractors, and outsourced providers are responsible for the decisions they make about what low-value business information can be destroyed using NAP and when it can be destroyed. They must take note of when NAP is and is not applicable.

The purpose of this policy is to clarify what information may be routinely destroyed in the normal course of ACNC business under NAP.

Principles

  • Principle 1: NAP will only be used for certain types of information
  • Principle 2: ACNC staff will use this policy to decide when NAP can be used to destroy information.
  • Principle 3: the ACNC will follow the NAA NAP Exceptions list to ensure only appropriate records are destroyed using NAP.

Overview

  1. Section 24 of the Archives Act 1983 (Cth) (Archives Act) provides that Commonwealth records can only be deleted or destroyed:
    • with the permission of the National Archives of Australia (NAA), for example, in accordance with the requirements of a records authority,
    • as required by any law, for example, in accordance with the requirements of the Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990 (Cth) or
    • in accordance with a NAP.
  2. The NAA has issued Records Authority 2021/00234491 (the ACNC Records Authority). While records authorities are the primary tool for authorising the disposal of Commonwealth records, NAP allows staff to routinely delete or destroy low-value information and records which are not needed as evidence of the agency’s business and do not form part of its corporate record.
  3. NAP is only used for information and records of a short term, facilitative, or transitory nature that help an action or a process move forward, but do not in themselves have any long-term value and are not needed to understand the ultimate action, process, or decision.

Scope

  1. NAP applies to certain low-value business information including documents, email, voice messages, audio-visual materials, and data in business systems (for example: websites, social media applications, and databases).
  2. This Policy, OP2014/06, and the ACNC Records Authority apply to all ACNC staff and contractors, and all formats of information.
  3. NAP processes used by the ACNC do not require the NAA’s approval. However, if the NAA has given notice to the ACNC that it disapproves of a certain practice, then the ACNC must cease that practice.
  4. NAP cannot be used to destroy information created or received as part of ACNC business that is or may be required:
    • for regulatory or accountability purposes,
    • for the ongoing efficient administration of agency business,
    • for future reference,
    • to protect rights and entitlements of individuals, groups, or the Government,
    • because of its cultural or historical value, or
    • to meet community expectations.

This type of information is used to meet business needs and is covered by the ACNC Records Authority. Information that is covered by the ACNC Records Authority must be kept or destroyed in accordance with the requirements set out in the ACNC Records Authority.

  1. NAP also cannot be used:
  1. NAP cannot be used to destroy any records that are reasonably likely to be needed as evidence in current or future judicial proceedings, or which are subject to a request for access (such as a request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth)).
  2. This Policy contains guidance and basic examples of what can be destroyed under NAP. OP2014/06 provides detailed instructions on when and how NAP can be used.
  3. The ATO has its own NAP Policy. ACNC staff who work with ATO records will manage those records in accordance with the ATO’s policies.

Principle 1: NAP will only be used for certain types of information.

  1. Records considered for destruction using NAP can be arranged into five broad groups.
    • Facilitative, transitory, or short-term items: This includes general diary and calendar appointments (but not those that relate to important matters such as interagency meetings, or to the appointment schedules of the Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners), circulation copies of agency material (but not master copies), unsolicited letters offering goods or services, emails that have already been saved in file management systems, emails that form part of an email chain where the entire email chain has already been stored with the final email has been stored in a file management system, and spam emails.
    • Rough working papers and/or calculations: Routine or rough calculations, including documents that have been incorporated into other correspondence or a separate final document.
    • Drafts not intended for further use or reference: Drafts of documents such as reports, correspondence, addresses, speeches, or planning documents that do not contain significant or substantial changes or annotations, only minor edits for grammar or spelling.
    • Copies of material retained for reference purposes only: Printouts or duplicates of documents such as agency procedures, manuals, guidelines, and plans,other than master or authorised copies of such documents.
    • Published material which does not form an integral part of the agency’s record: This includes promotional and advertising material received by the agency that is not directly connected to the ACNC's core business activities.
  1. Preliminary research and drafts of some documents may be destroyed, but not others. If the documents show a change in direction, then early drafts must be retained to show the reasons for that change. If documents are simple work-in-progress drafts, or have minor edits to fix spelling or change formatting, ACNC staff are permitted to destroy them under NAP.
  2. ACNC staff will refer to the above list when considering if a record can be disposed of using NAP.

Principle 2: ACNC staff will use this policy to decide when NAP can be used to destroy information.

  1. Any decision to destroy a record, in line with NAP, will be made after considering the context of the business activity that it supports. Whenever there remains reasonable doubt about whether a document can be destroyed under NAP, staff will presume the document must be retained.
  2. ACNC staff will consider the following questions before disposing of records. Is the retention or disposal of the record covered by any law or records authority? If not, is the record:
    • needed to clarify, support or give context to an existing record?
    • needed to show how ACNC business was carried out?
    • needed to show how a decision was made?
    • needed because it indicates who made a decision or gave advice that informed a decision?
    • needed to show when or where an event happened?
    • needed because it contains information on the rights or obligations of government or individuals?
    • a formal draft of a Cabinet submission?
    • a draft of an agreement or legal document?
    • likely to form part of a record that may be needed to support legal proceedings?
    • subject to an NAP exception, official records disposal freeze, or records retention notice?
    • subject to a request for access under the Archives Act 1983 (Cth) or Freedom of Information Act 192 (Cth), or a similar request for access?
  1. If the answer to all these questions is no, then ACNC staff will consider destroying the record in line with NAP. If the answer to any question is yes, or if any one of these questions cannot be answered, the ACNC will retain the record until its disposal can be actioned under an appropriate records authority or law.

Principle 3: the ACNC will follow the NAA NAP Exceptions list to ensure only appropriate records are destroyed using NAP.

  1. The following information will not be destroyed under NAP, as it falls under the NAA’s NAP Exceptions:
    • Information that is required to be kept by law (including in keeping with a records authority, records retention notice, or records disposal freeze).
    • 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 a decision or gave advice that informed a decision.
    • 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 documents or the document remains unfinished.
    • Research 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 etc.)
    • 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.

Definitions

  1. The following terms are used throughout this document and any reference to them should be read with the following meaning:
    • disposal (records disposal) - the destruction, transfer of custody or ownership, damage, or alteration of records.
    • disposal freeze - a device used to suspend the NAA’s permission to destroy records, similar to a records retention notice.
    • NAA - National Archives of Australia
    • NAP - Normal Administrative Practice
    • NAP Exceptions - information and records that are expressly excluded from being destroyed under NAP.
    • records authorities - legal instruments that define the retention requirements for Commonwealth records, they are used to determine the minimum retention period and subsequent action to destroy or transfer custody of records.
    • records disposal freeze / retention notice - a mechanism used by the NAA to prevent the destruction of records relating to nominated controversial or prominent issues, or judicial proceedings. The NAA issues a statement that describes the issue and suspends its permission to destroy related records. Such a statement overrides existing records authorities and records covered by the freeze or notice cannot be destroyed until the notice is withdrawn.
    • records retention notice - a device used to suspend the NAA’s permission to destroy records, similar to disposal freezes.

Version control

Version Date of effect Summary of change
Version 1 1/06/2019 Version 1 – Initial policy 01/06/2019 Initial policy to accompany the ACNC’s Operating Procedure for NAP (OP 2014/06)
Version 2 10/05/2022 Significant style revisions. Duplication with OP2014/06 removed.
Consistency ensured with new National Archives Records Authority for the ACNC.