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  • Records management for our contractors

    Records management is a crucial part of all government administration and accountability. It is the basis for establishing and maintaining documentary evidence of government activities and decisions supporting good business practice.

    It ensures records are managed in accordance with business, community and legal requirements.

    The need for records management is equally applicable whether government business is conducted within government agencies or the activities are outsourced.

    On this page:

    Commonwealth records

    A record is defined by the Archives Act 1983 as a document or an object in any form, including digital.

    All records containing any information created, sent and received in the course of carrying out ATO business are Commonwealth records and assets.

    Contractor’s responsibilities

    All contractors must:

    • Ensure that records are not inappropriately used, disclosed or held in the custody of a party other than the ATO without formal approval.
    • Meet minimum information and records management standards for Commonwealth records, including information security requirements.
    • Maintain records during the contracted period in a format that is accessible by the ATO.
    • Comply with legislative requirements and policy framework.
    • Return Commonwealth records to the ATO at the end of the contracted period within a reasonable timeframe.
    • Not destroy Commonwealth records without permission of the ATO.

    Ownership of records

    Where a contractor provides services on behalf of or to the ATO, ownership (including intellectual property rights such as copyright) of existing or new records created by the contractor generally vest in the ATO.

    Where a contractor provides services to the Australian Government itself rather than to its external clients, ownership of records may not vest in the ATO.

    For example where the ATO contracts a contractor to write a report for the ATO, the report will be a Commonwealth record and owned by the ATO. However, the contractor's business records surrounding that contract are not considered to be a Commonwealth record, rather they remain the property of the contractor.

    More specific requirements relating to the ATO records to be managed will be covered in the provisions of the contract or contractor’s operating procedures as approved by the ATO.

    Legislative and policy framework

    There are a number of legislative, policy and related documents that form the framework within which we maintain our record management standards.

    This framework ensures our accountability to Government and to the Australian community. The principles based on this framework continue to apply to Commonwealth records in the custody of contractors.

    These include:

    Last modified: 21 Sep 2020QC 59817