Govts must log, preserve COVID decisions, say Commissioners

By Amy Sarcevic
Tuesday, 12 May, 2020

Govts must log, preserve COVID decisions, say Commissioners

Governments dealing with COVID-19 are being advised to practise sound information management — in a bid to keep accurate and secure national records of the pandemic response.

The Australian and New Zealand Information Access Commissioners are asking departments and agencies to log, preserve and provide public access to all government decision-making throughout the crisis.

They said proper archives are vital for informing future pandemic management — with the 1918 influenza pandemic records currently being studied by scientists around the world.

“The economic and societal impact of the current pandemic needs to be evidenced, not only to prevent and/or anticipate similar events but to understand the effect this event will have on current and future generations,” said the Commissioners in a joint statement.

“The ability to study the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to prevent other such events, requires the existence of records management services and archives, otherwise records and data will not be generated and captured in ways that will enable their preservation and access, now or in the future.”

The Commissioners say records and archives will need to be more than just paper documents marked as “official records”. They will need to capture increasingly complex materials, such as algorithms and raw data.

Commercial entities will also need to keep essential records for operational continuity, to evidence rights and entitlements, and to apply for government subsidies.

In particular, firms involved in vaccine development, genome analysis and disease tracing will need to ensure their data is properly maintained.

“As the economic impact of COVID-19 is felt around the world, it will also be critical to secure, capture and preserve the records of defunct companies and/or private entities. This way, the social, cultural and even economic significance of former undertakings can live on,” said the Commissioners.

Image credit: © Kuzmin

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