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Information management for our contractors

Information management for our contractors and its crucial part in government administration and accountability.

Last updated 1 November 2022

About information management

Information 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 information assets (records, information, and data) are managed in accordance with business, community, and legal requirements.

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

Commonwealth information assets

In the Australian Government context, we use ‘information asset’ as an encompassing term for records, information, and data, in any format.

Information that you create, send, or receive as part of your work for the ATO are Commonwealth information assets. These assets provide evidence of what the ATO has done and why.

All information assets must be managed in accordance with the Archives Act 1983External Link requirements and in accordance with other related legislative and policy practices.

Contractor responsibilities

All contractors must comply with the ATO's legislative and policy framework. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • meeting minimum information asset management standards for information assets, including information security requirements
  • ensuring that information assets are not inappropriately used, disclosed, or held in the custody of a party other than the ATO without formal approval
  • maintaining information assets during the contracted period in a format that is accessible to the ATO
  • returning Commonwealth information assets to the ATO at the end of the contracted period within a reasonable timeframe and in formats acceptable to the ATO
  • not destroying Commonwealth information assets without permission of the ATO.

Ownership of information assets

Where a contractor provides services on behalf of or to the ATO, ownership (including intellectual property rights such as copyright) of existing or new information assets 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 information assets 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 an ATO information asset owned by the ATO. However, the contractor's business records surrounding that contract are not considered to be ATO information assets and remain the property of the contractor.

Specific requirements about the management of ATO information assets will be covered in the provisions of the contract or the contractor’s operating procedures as approved by the ATO.

Legislative and policy framework

There are several legislative, policy and related documents that form the framework, within which we maintain our information asset management standards.

This framework keeps us accountable to Government and to the Australian community. The principles based on this framework apply to ATO information assets in the custody of contractors.

These include: