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Image: Yancy Min

Image: Yancy Min

Working with the Government to transform records

17 June 2019

4 minutes read

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Dr Armin Haller | Photo: CBE 

The College of Business and Economics (CBE) has partnered with the Department of Finance to transform the Government’s records management process. Information and record systems have historically valued the capacity for storage and archive, but this ambitious project emphasises the ongoing need to access, use and classify records in a meaningful way.

The aim of the project is to improve public sector organisations’ understanding of the information that they hold and to make it more accessible. The initial stages of this project involve training algorithms on large sets of data to make sure the classification system reflects the way people describe and use their data. This leads to more accurate automation and will make it easier to adhere to open data policies, engage in tender processes, and disseminate information within an organisation. 

Dr Armin Haller, from the CBE Research School of Management, is working on the implementation of a semantic information model, or ‘ontology’, which is a system that both humans and machines can use to discern the context of information and better classify it. By understanding the context of how information was created, it becomes possible to widen its utility such that information remains relevant for longer after it has been used in its original purpose and by a larger set of people and areas.

“It is exciting to see that the Department of Finance is embracing the use of ontologies to describe the context and classify the meaning of Government information records. Using novel techniques to learn to classify information, this project aims to reduce the workload of the people who need to catalogue information, while allowing others, whether Government employees or the general public, to better find information after it has been archived,” says Dr Haller.

Records are often kept in siloed systems that do not speak to each other. Important information can exist in a variety of digital media such as emails, documents, and databases, which makes it difficult to categorise them in a way that captures their content and the context in which it was created rather than just their format or origin. This new ontology, the Australian Government Records Interoperability Framework (Framework) would be robust enough to handle the diversity of information produced by government departments.

The Government is hoping that this project results in improved transparency, both for the public service and for the general public. Although it will not change what information is publicly available, improved accessibility will allow responses to information requests to made in a more timely and effective manner.

The Department of Finance is particularly interested in how further transformation of the public sector can be enabled through the progressive implementation of the Framework in lines of business that cross all portfolio; realising the benefits of records management in business, as well as historical, terms.

The project is ongoing and, while the Department of Finance is implementing the Framework in some core business areas first, there is a high level of interest to include use cases from other government departments and agencies.

The ANU College of Business and Economics is a research focused instituition. Click here for more details. 

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Updated:   27 June 2019 / Responsible Officer:  CBE Communications and Outreach / Page Contact:  College Web Team