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Machinery of Government (MoG) changes: A guide

Records management

Information held by agencies is a valuable national resource.

Records are a core strategic asset. The proper treatment of all forms of records is a key consideration in a MoG change.

1. Agencies are expected to implement change in a way that is consistent with the principles outlined in the Executive Summary.

Movement of records

  1. As a general principle, records follow function. However, where a function moves into the private sector in general, the associated records must remain in the custody of the Commonwealth by law.
  2. Decisions to transfer or not transfer records must be recorded in the records management systems of both the losing and the gaining agencies.
  3. Records must be retained in accordance with the Archives Act 1983 and the Evidence Act 1995.

National Archives of Australia

  1.  Information on how to transfer records is available at www.naa.gov.au
  2. Questions relating to records management in a MoG change should be referred to National Archives’ Agency Service Centre.
  3. As soon as practicable, agencies are expected to advise the National Archives on how functions have been re-allocated so that:
    • administrative histories and metadata maintained by the National Archives can be updated
    • the agency responsible for controlling records in Archives’ custody can be updated
    • records authorities can be re-attributed to gaining agencies as necessary.

Managing the transfer

  1. Deciding on what is to happen to agency information, records, data and records management systems is a key component of due diligence. See Planning and Due Diligence.
  2. The losing agency needs to transfer to the gaining agency:
    • records held in physical form, together with the systems that control such records, such as databases, spreadsheets and records management systems
    • records held in digital form which means identifying appropriate mechanisms for exporting records from the losing agency's systems and importing them into the gaining agency's systems
    • information held on the internet—this may need to be captured, archived or transferred
    • personnel records such as attendance records, medical certificates and leave forms.
  3. Information about the Digital Service Standard, including requirements for the archiving of websites, is available from the Digital Transformation Agency.
  4. Agencies must retain information not published on agency’s websites that may be required for FOI and open public sector information purposes.


  1. Personal information held by the existing agency must be assessed prior to being transferred to the new agency to ensure compliance with the Privacy Act 1988.  Particular care should be given to ensure personal information transferred to the new agency is relevant to the functions or activities of the new agency.

FOI requests

  1. Agencies must consider the implications for FOI and the Information Publication Scheme. Relevant FOI requests must be transferred between agencies following a MoG transfer.  Further information is available from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
Last reviewed: 
12 February 2020