The Commonwealth Record Series (CRS) Manual


5.1. Agency - Definition

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    5.1.0.  Agency definition
    5.1.1.  Broader administrative context
    5.1.2.  Last updated

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5.1.0.  Agency Definition

Agencies are a key element in the National Archives' control system, namely the CRS System. Agency registrations are the main means by which the Archives provides information about records creators. An agency registration contains concise information about the administrative history of the agency, its relationship with other agencies and features of its records over time. 

All agencies that are registered in the CRS System are allocated control numbers with a CA (Commonwealth Agency) prefix and a unique number. The agency should be identified by that number on any listing or related registrations.

In the Archives' control system:

An agency is a distinct and recognisable body which has responsibility for carrying out administrative functions.

An agency will usually have:

This is a broader definition than previously used by the Archives. The previous definition emphasised the existence of an independent general recordkeeping system.

An agency can be part of the executive, legislature, or judiciary. Agencies registered by the Archives include:

The size of an administrative body is not relevant in determining its status as an agency.

5.1.1.  Broader administrative context

An agency may be controlled by one or more Commonwealth or non-Commonwealth organisation (CO) either successively, or at the same time.

Many agencies will also belong to a broader administrative grouping or corporation beneath the peak organisation level, for example, a whole department, institution, authority, company or association. A corporation may be part of another corporation. Examples of corporations include:

The corporation under the CRS System has often been regarded as the sum of its agencies at any particular time. Where a corporation within the Commonwealth of Australia consists of more than one agency, the corporation is not necessarily registered separately as an umbrella for the individual agencies within it. The registration for the principal agency within the corporation can be used in place of a separate registration for the corporation. For example, the Archives uses the agency registration for the central office of a Department of State to cover the Department of State as a whole. Information about the department can be placed in the note of the registration for the principal agency. Below the Department of State level, the same convention can be applied: if a corporation comprises more than one agency, the registration for the principal agency may be used to cover the corporation.

Example 1 Commonwealth

Hierarchical level CRS System registration
Organisation Commonwealth of Australia (CO 1)
Department of State Department of Veterans' Affairs (CA 2107 - the same as the Department's Central Administration )
Central office Department of Veterans' Affairs, Central Administration (CA 2107)
Regional office Department of Veterans' Affairs, Branch Office, Queensland (CA 2368)
Local office Department of Veterans' Affairs, Townsville Regional Office [Queensland] (CA 5006)

Example 2 Commonwealth

Hierarchical level CRS System registration
Organisation Commonwealth of Australia (CO 1)
Department of State Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts
(which comprises a large number of diverse bodies departmental, non-departmental and other institutions)
(CA 7872 - the same as for the Department's Central Office)
Central office Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Central Office (CA 7872)
Institution/authority (incorporating separate agencies) National Archives of Australia (comprising a national and several State offices)
(not registered separately)
Head office National Archives of Australia, National Office (CA 7970)
Regional office National Archives of Australia, New South Wales Office (CA 1726)

A corporation that is outside the Commonwealth of Australia often equates to, and is registered as, an organisation (CO) in the Archives' control system.

Example 3 - Non-Commonwealth

Hierarchical level CRS System registration
Organisation Institution of Engineers, Australia (CO 62)
Head office Institution of Engineers, Australia, National Headquarters (CA 2128)
Regional office Institution of Engineers, Australia, Sydney Division (CA 3110)

 

5.1.2.  Last updated:  3 May 2000


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