Government Insight: digital information management

In our ‘Government Insight’ series, we ask a member of Victoria’s public sector to share their views on a specific government initiative or strategy. Today we welcome Graeme Hairsine, Assistant Director Corporate Services, Public Records Office of Victoria (PROV) to talk about digital information management.

Graeme Hairsine

Can you provide an overview of the PROV Digital Archive Program?

The Digital Archive Program is a three year $5Million project that will deliver an entirely new system for managing the permanent digital records of the Victorian Government. The new solution will be designed to be modular, flexible and scalable. This will enable it to deal with large volumes of digital record transfers from agencies and with complex digital objects such as relational databases and websites.

What do you see are the broad agency challenges from a digitisation (of records) perspective?

Digitising original paper records poses two significant challenges. Firstly the physical format of many 19th and 20th Century government records — for example, very large leather-bound books that can weigh over 20kg — requires a very labour-intensive digitising process that takes a great deal of time and hence money. Secondly, no agency or Department (including Public Record Office Victoria) is funded to digitise records and so it is not regarded as a priority unless a significant event, such as a Royal Commission, creates an imperative for the records to become more available.

What are some of the wider government issues relating to records management and where do you see industry supporting this?

Records management has evolved into the broader discipline of information management in the 21st Century. There is a proliferation of business systems across organisations, each of which is potentially a source of important information that needs to be identified, classified and managed over a long period of time.

Industry needs to understand that any technological business solution they create is going to be a repository of information and must therefore have these features as an integral part of their design, as well as delivering the ability to be integrated into a broader Departmental information management framework. A contemporary business system must be easily interoperable within a broader framework so as to support government information management utility.

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