In the context of information and records, disposal authority means the decision-making processes for retaining, transferring or destroying information and records. There are two types of disposal authority: general ones and organisation-specific ones.
General disposal authorities help organisations decide what to do with common information and records.
General disposal authorities provide ongoing authorisation for the disposal of non-core business information and records common across organisations. These are information and records may relate to administration, corporate services, human resources, and finance. Such information and records are common, transitory, and of low value.
General disposal authorities specify retention periods and note which types of information and records can be destroyed and which must be kept as public archives.
General disposal authorities do not cover information and records that relate to an organisation’s primary core business functions, duties and responsibilities. Those information and records may be covered by an organisation–centric or sector-based disposal authority.
However, where information and records may be covered by either general disposal authorities or an organisation-centric or sector-based disposal authority the latter will negate the general disposal authorities.
Public offices must use the general disposal authorities. They do not need any further authorisation from the Chief Archivist.
Local authorities can use the general disposal authorities for best practice information and records management.
An organisation gains direct benefit from using a general disposal authority to dispose of its information and records. These include savings in space and time, making the most of the information discovered, and improved compliance with the relevant legislation.
- Saving costs by freeing up space: Information and records that have reached their minimum retention period will be disposed of, negating the need to pay for storage.
- Saving time: Information and records of continuing value that are easier to find and retrieve will mean an organisation needs to recreate less information and hold fewer records.
- Making the most of the information discovered: By disposing of its information and records regularly, an organisation can easily find current information and records and reduce its threat surface. In particular, it will easily find information and records critical to any dispute resolution, legal change, and evidential purpose.
- Improved compliance: Legislative compliance allows organisations to dispose of information and records in line with relevant legislation.