Government agencies use public funds to provide services, deliver programs and manage assets. Good records support effective business practice and improve agency accountability and efficiency. As such, they are a cornerstone of organisational governance.
The importance of creating and managing records is enshrined in the State Records Act 2000. The Act emphasises the need for accountability and transparency in agencies’ recordkeeping practices. Unfortunately, too many of my audits identify poor recordkeeping practices with the consequent difficulty of tracking events and establishing facts through good evidence.
In addition to my role as Auditor General for Western Australia I am also the chairman of the State Records Commission. My experiences on the Commission have confirmed my understanding of the importance of good recordkeeping and the need for agencies to pay greater attention to this aspect of their business.
We have previously undertaken targeted audits of records management in 2004 and 2008. This audit examined records management at six agencies. It found some improvement though a range of weaknesses still remain. However, I was heartened by the prompt action of the agencies to acknowledge and address some of the issues identified.
This audit should be a reminder to all agencies to ensure that their records management systems are current and comprehensive, and that staff are trained and understand their responsibilities to maintain good records. For my part, I will continue to draw the Parliament’s attention to this issue.