Records Management in Local Government

Audit focus and scope

The audit objective was to determine if Western Australian local government entities (LGs) effectively manage their records to promote accountable and transparent decision making.

The specific lines of inquiry were:

  • Do LGs have approved and current recordkeeping plans (RKPs), and supporting policies and procedures?
  • Are key business activities and decision making records managed in line with RKPs?
  • Do recordkeeping systems appropriately secure physical and electronic records against inappropriate access, alteration or destruction?

We checked to see if 146[1] LGs had approved RKPs in place as required and reviewed the following 4 LGs in detail:

  • City of Canning (Canning)
  • Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council (EMRC)
  • Shire of Toodyay (Toodyay)
  • Town of Mosman Park (Mosman Park).

We visited these LGs and interviewed senior management, records management staff and staff in relevant business areas. We assessed whether their RKPs reflected current practice and if planned actions or improvements were being implemented. We also assessed whether policies and procedures were in place and being followed.

Areas we examined included human resource records, planning approval records and health inspection records. At EMRC our sampled records included complaints and waste management issues.

We liaised with the State Records Office to discuss interpretation and expectations around compliance with recordkeeping standards and principles. We also spoke with the Director General, National Archives of Australia, about emerging issues and good practice.

This was a narrow scope performance audit, conducted under section 18 of the Auditor General Act 2006 and in accordance with Australian Assurance Standards ASAE 3500 Performance Engagements. We complied with the independence and other relevant ethical requirements related to assurance engagements. Performance audits primarily focus on the effective management of agency and LG programs and activities. The approximate cost of undertaking the audit and reporting is $198,000.

[1] This includes WA’s 137 local governments and 9 regional councils, but excludes the 2 Indian Ocean Territories.

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