The Commonwealth Record Series (CRS) Manual


5.6. Agency - Notes

On this page:

5.6.3.  Agency descriptive note
5.6.4.  Previous title note

Go to:  5.6.1.  Common registration notes

Back to:    main contentsOrganisation | Agency | Person | Series | Item


5.6.3.  Agency descriptive note

Definition | Purpose | Relative importance | Sources of information | Standards for content | Amendments | Application notes | Relationship to ISAAR(CPF) | Last updated

5.6.3.1.  Definition

A concise, structured note with descriptive headings that gives information (not included in other data elements) about the administrative history of the agency and clarifies any information included in other parts of the registration.

5.6.3.2.  Purpose

(i) to bring together significant information in a structured way about the agency and establish a useful context for the user in which to understand the agency's records.

(ii) to explain why a registration has provisional status, that is, to indicate what information in a provisional registration is unreliable.

(iii) to include information on the structure of the network of agencies for which a peak agency such as a national office is responsible, to limit the need for extensive description of these subordinate agencies when they are also individually registered.

The agency descriptive note should not repeat information already present in other data elements of the registration or in related agency, person and series registrations.

5.6.3.3.  Relative importance

This field should be completed for significant registrations; it may be completed in other cases (category 3).

5.6.3.4.  Sources of information

Information can be obtained from the records of the agency being described, plus the range of secondary sources referred to in the 'Application Notes' below.

5.6.3.5.  Standards for content

This is a text field. Descriptions should be in simple, coherent prose with the aim of making the information as clear as possible for the user. Avoid use of present tense that may subsequently need revision. Refer to the Macquarie Dictionary, Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers (AGPS ) and the National Archives of Australia Style Guide. Formatting requirements are specified in RecordSearch help text.

To make the note more readable, place relevant information, and especially updates, under headings and subheadings outlined in the 'Application Notes' below rather than simply adding information at the end of the note. However, the use of headings is optional. Short notes may not benefit from the use of headings.

5.6.3.6.  Amendments

To correct errors. To include new information, often after administrative change.

5.6.3.7.  Application notes

The Agency Descriptive Note may be used to provide concise information in the following categories:

5.6.3.7.1.   Creation
5.6.3.7.1.1.   Letters Patent
5.6.3.7.1.2.   Executive Council meeting minutes
5.6.3.7.1.3.   Parliamentary resolutions
5.6.3.7.1.4.   Cabinet decisions
5.6.3.7.2.   Abolition
5.6.3.7.3.   Functions and activities
5.6.3.7.4.   Legislation administered
5.6.3.7.5.   Administrative structure
5.6.3.7.6.   Historical agency address
5.6.3.7.7.   State/regional structure
5.6.3.7.8.   Records created by the agency
5.6.3.7.9.   Additional information
5.6.3.7.10. End notes
                  Sources

These may be used as headings within the text to assist updating and readability. It is not necessary to include information under each category.

The note should not reflect a personal assessment of the historical significance of the agency or include biased comments on its policies, activities or personnel. It should consist of statements of fact, with particular emphasis on the agency's role as an administrative entity producing records. It should seek to place the agency within its administrative context rather than attempt to explore its social or political background.

The note should be expressed in clear, concise language, suitable for staff, official and public users. Avoid archival jargon, abbreviations and acronyms.

5.6.3.7.0.  Scope of information covered

The notes for the central offices of Departments of State and other corporations may be used to provide a brief overview of the department or corporation as a whole. For minor subordinate agencies it is permissible to make a cross-reference to the registration of a superior agency rather than duplicate general information about the agency. For example, legislation administered would usually only appear for a central office of a Department of State. Information specific to the agency should still be given.

The following is a more detailed discussion of the categories listed above.

5.6.3.7.1.  Creation

This category comprises the legislation or other legal instruments which created the agency being described. Entry under this heading is usually restricted to Department of State. Major sources are Acts, Regulations, Ordinances, Letters Patent, Executive Council minutes, Cabinet decisions, Military Orders and Parliamentary Resolutions.

Regulations should include the short title of the superior Act in round brackets, eg

Commonwealth Statutory Rules, No. 116 of 1944, Entertainments Tax Regulations (made under the Entertainments Tax Assessment Act 1942)

5.6.3.7.1.1.  Letters Patent

Commonwealth Royal Commissions and other judicial inquiries are usually established, under the provisions of the Royal Commissions Act (No. 12 of 1902), by individual Letters Patent. The legislation entry for such an inquiry should be completed using the following format:

Commonwealth Letters Patent issued 13 October 1977

State Letters Patent issued Queensland 27 October 1977; Tasmania 28 October 1977; Western Australia 2 November 1977; Victoria 13 November 1977

As Royal Commissions and inquiries are not formally abolished, it is unnecessary to supply a reference to abolition. It is also not necessary to precede the details of the Letters Patent with a Creation heading.

5.6.3.7.1.2.  Executive Council Meeting minutes

Departments of State are formally created and abolished by a decision of the Federal Executive Council. When entering reference to legislation in the agency descriptive note utilise the following format:

Creation: Executive Council Meeting No. 47 (Public Service Board Minute No. 55) of 19 December 1972

Where a gazette notice is used as the source, cite the Executive Council minute number and the Commonwealth Gazette reference, eg

Creation: Executive Council Minute No. 5, 24 March 1993 (Commonwealth of Australia Gazette No. S91, 24 March 1993)

This information is usually available from the Special Gazette notifying the creation or abolition of Departments of State and preceding a full or partial Administrative Arrangements Order. Note that the Executive Council meeting and minute numbers for creating and abolishing departments are not the same as those of Administrative Arrangements Orders. The orders in and of themselves do not create or abolish Departments of State.

5.6.3.7.1.3.  Parliamentary Resolutions

Committees of the House of Representatives and Senate are established by resolution of either chamber. Where possible, cite the resolution using the following format:

 [Chamber] Resolution of [full date]; [reference to relevant Hansard or Votes and Proceedings/Journal], eg

House of Representatives Resolution of 24 May 1956; House of Representatives 1956, Debates, Vol. HR10, pp. 2453-2454

Senate Resolution of 24 May 1956; Senate 1956, Debates, Vol. S8, pp. 980-981

House of Representatives Resolution of 24 May 1956; House of Representatives 1956-57, Votes and Proceedings, No. 36, pp. 168-169

Senate Resolution of 24 May 1956; Senate 1956-57, Journals, No. 22, pp. 76-77

If a daily or weekly Hansard is cited instead, cite the resolution as follows:

Senate Resolution of 22 September 1987, Senate Daily Hansard, Tuesday 22 September 1987, p. 8

House of Representatives Resolution of 29 November 1994, House of Representatives Weekly Hansard No. 35, 28 November - 1 December 1994, p. 2561.

When using the legislation subheading in the agency descriptive note for joint committees established by the Senate and House of Representatives give the date of the resolution for both chambers, as illustrated above.

It is unnecessary to add a Creation title or a reference to abolition, unless the committee was specifically abolished by a second resolution. Generally such committees expire when they have produced their final report to the appropriate chamber(s) of Parliament.

5.6.3.7.1.4.  Cabinet decisions

Some agencies have been established or abolished by a decision of the Cabinet, eg the Interim Commission for Consumer Standards (CA2918). As they are of a lesser significance than Departments of State, this decision is not notified in a Special Gazette, but information on the decision may be available in some other source, for example, the records of the agency, a report of the agency. If this is so, the Related Legislation element should be completed using the following format.

           Creation: Cabinet Decision No. 153 of 1 October 1947

A reference to the source of information should also be added. Cabinet decisions less than 30 years old should not be cited unless they have been included in a published source, such as a report to Parliament, press statement etc.

Give details about the creation of the agency, including any legal instrument of creations and the reasons for creation. Legal instruments may include Acts, Regulations, Ordinances, Letters Patent, Executive Council decisions, Cabinet decisions, Military Orders and Parliamentary Resolutions. All legislation should be cited in full giving the title of the legislative series, for example, Commonwealth of Australia Acts, Australian Capital Territory Ordinances, Commonwealth Statutory Rules; the number of the instrument concerned, for example, No. 10 of 1982; and any short title given at the beginning of the instrument, for example, Milk Authority Ordinance 1971; eg

Creation: Commonwealth of Australia Acts, No. 38 of 1962, Australian Wheat Commission Act 1962

Creation: Australian Capital Territory Ordinances, No. 23 of 1971, Milk Authority Ordinance 1971

Creation: Cabinet Decision No. 153 of 1 October 1947

The source of the information should also be included, specifying whether the information about the start date was derived from:

For example, an agency may have been created in response to the findings of a Royal Commission, or as the result of the amalgamation of previous agencies during an administrative restructuring.

The relationship with previous agencies should also be outlined, especially for the central offices of Departments of State or in other complex cases where there are multiple predecessors passing on functions or parts of functions, divisions, branches, etc. However, if this is clearly shown in other fields of the agency registration do not repeat the information in the note.

Where there is doubt about the agency start date and one date has been chosen from several options, mention the other dates and reasons for selection.

If the agency was jointly controlled by the Commonwealth and another organisation, or if control passed from one organisation to another, details of the transfer or joint control should be mentioned.

For a parliamentary committee, mention the date(s) of reconstitution, if applicable.

When describing a joint Commonwealth/State Royal Commission, include the date of issue of the State Letters Patent and mention any special Commonwealth/State arrangements made.

5.6.3.7.2.  Abolition

Mention the circumstances of abolition, including any relevant legal instrument of abolition.

Mention any unusual aspects covering successor agencies.

For committees, give the dates of the last sitting and presentation of the final report.

As Royal Commissions and inquiries are not formally abolished, it is unnecessary to supply a reference to abolition. It is also not necessary to precede the details of the Letters Patent with a Creation heading.

Departments of State are formally created and abolished by a decision of the Federal Executive Council. The legislation subheading in the agency descriptive note can, for departments, be completed using the following format:

Abolition: Executive Council Meeting No. 119 (Public Service Board Minute No. 1975/58) of 22 December 1975

This information is usually available from the Special Gazette notifying the creation or abolition of Departments of State and preceding a full or partial Administrative Arrangements Order. Note that the Executive Council meeting and minute numbers for creating and abolishing departments are not the same as those of Administrative Arrangements Orders. The orders in and of themselves do not create or abolish Departments of State.

If this is so, the legislation subheading in the agency descriptive note should be completed using the following format.

            Abolition: Administrative Arrangements Order of 14 June 1957 
            (Commonwealth Gazette No. S91, 7 May 1982)

A reference to the source of information should also be added. Cabinet decisions less than 30 years old should not be cited unless they have been included in a published source, such as a report to Parliament, press statement etc.

5.6.3.7.3.  Functions and activities

The agency descriptive note should focus on the administrative functions and activities undertaken by the agency, starting with the functions assigned at the time of its creation and noting any major subsequent changes.

For Royal Commissions, judicial inquiries, parliamentary committees, boards and other committees provide a summary of the terms of reference or powers of inquiry. Give an indication of the dates and locations of sittings of a Royal Commission and whether any sittings were 'in camera'. For parliamentary committees, give the date and place of any sittings or inspections undertaken outside Parliament itself. Also, for these bodies include a summary of the major areas in which recommendations were made. For parliamentary committees, list the reports tabled in Parliament, giving the report titles, date tabled and Parliamentary Paper number reference.

Special attention should be given to the functions attributed to Departments of State by the Commonwealth Administrative Arrangements Orders (AAOs). The functions assigned to a department at the time of its establishment should be extracted from the list of functions under the 'Matters dealt with by the Department' subheading in the AAOs. Any subsequent additions, amendments or deletions to this listing of functions should be outlined, with a reference to the issue of the Gazette in which the AAOs appeared. Mention should also be made of the functions inherited from previous agencies, from whom and when.

For other agencies the note should provide the date and nature of significant changes to the agency's functions. Care should be taken to document the transfer of functions from one agency to another and the creation or abolition of functions, as this could be expected to have a significant effect on the nature of the records kept by the agency.

For military units (army, navy, air force) a brief history of the unit should be given outlining its nature, areas of operation and notable actions.

When several ships or units have a common title, for example, HMAS MELBOURNE [I] and HMAS MELBOURNE [II], it is the convention to add a brief reference in the agency note for each, giving the approximate date range and sphere of operation of other ships or units with the same name (even if not separately registered).

Sources of information about the functions undertaken by an agency include:

5.6.3.7.4.  Legislation administered

It is not necessary to list the legislation administered by an agency unless it is the central office of a Department of State. For the principal agencies of other corporations mention the main legislation administered. Subordinate agencies will be assumed to be administering the same legislation as the parent body. The Administrative Arrangements Orders (published in the Commonwealth Gazette) and directories are the major sources.

Legislation administered at the time of a department's creation should be given in full, preceded by the citation for the Administrative Arrangements Order and the date and number of the gazette, eg

The Administrative Arrangements Orders of 7 May 1982 (published in Commonwealth Gazette No. S91, 7 May 1982) listed the legislation administered by the new department as being ...

It is not necessary to supply the complete listing of legislation administered from all subsequent Administrative Arrangements Orders. Instead, the compiling officer should detail any deletions from the list and any additions to it, eg

In the Administrative Arrangements Order of 14 June 1957 (Commonwealth Gazette No. S28 of 15 June 1957) the following new enactments were added to the list of legislation administered ...

The Coal Export Levy Act 1954 and the Sales Tax Assessment Act 1955 were repealed in 1956 and therefore did not appear in the listing of legislation administered by the department.

5.6.3.7.5.  Administrative structure

The agency descriptive note may include information about the administrative structure and operations of the agency, especially if this throws light on the agency's records, for example, the agency was decentralised and had unusual recordkeeping arrangements.

For Royal Commissions and judicial inquiries, mention whether administrative support was provided by another agency or whether specialist staff were employed for that purpose. For committees, inquiries, statutory authorities and institutions in general, it is important to note whether the agency reported direct to the Minister or through the central office of the department.

For military units (navy, army, air force), indicate the unit's place in the Defence hierarchy.

The agency descriptive note for a major agency such as the central office of a Department of State may include a summary of the divisional or branch structure of the agency and the functions assigned to each. In general, where primary and secondary sources exist that adequately document an agency's administrative structure, cite the sources rather than duplicate the detailed information in them.

5.6.3.7.6.  State/regional structure

Information about the state or regional structures is very important in head office registrations. The notes can be used for lower level agencies so it is worthwhile giving this sub heading some attention. The value in expanding on the structure of the networked agencies is that it reduces repetition and the potential for lack of consistency in the descriptions of very similar agencies.

The explanation could include the following information:

Where sources exist that adequately document an agency's administrative and state or regional structure, cite the sources rather than duplicate the detailed information.

5.6.3.7.7.  Historical agency address

The agency descriptive note may include historical information which assists in determining the proximity of the agency to other agencies or institutions and its general operational environment. Knowledge of the location of the agency may help users establish the possible relevance of its records to their inquiries.

Secondary sources, like the Commonwealth Government Directory (and predecessors), and the records of the agency (especially letterheads on outgoing correspondence or addresses on incoming correspondence), are also important sources of information.

The standard sequence for historical address details is: date range (if more than one location); building name; street address; city, town or district, State or Territory; country (if not Australia). However, not all elements need to be completed. An exact street address is not required. In general, only provide: city, town or district, then State or Territory, then country (if not Australia). Do not provide the postal address.

Each address should begin on a new line.

This entry is required when there is a significant change of address. Agency address details at the time of registration can be obtained from the Commonwealth Government Directory.

The entry should supply the location of the most senior administrative element of each agency, conventionally the address of the senior officer: Director, Head, Officer-in-Charge, Secretary, Registrar, etc. This address is usually supplied by the agency's records, for example, letterheads, by the Commonwealth Government Directory or Federal Guide or by some other source such as a telephone directory.

Many agencies have been divided into several administrative sections or elements. It is unnecessary to detail every location occupied by an officer of the agency being registered. If different locations are functionally important, this may be referred to in the agency descriptive note.

Central offices of Departments of State form an exception to this rule. Historically, the central offices of some departments have been divided into functional divisions housed in separate locations. This should be reflected in the Agency Location attribute.

Other central offices were split between addresses in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. If this is the case and the different parts are not registered as separate agencies, the location of divisions or major functional sections of the central office should be given.

For Royal Commissions and inquiries, include the cities where hearings were held, eg

Secretariat: Melbourne
Hearings held: Melbourne, Sydney, Perth

Where more than one address is given, provide the date range during which the agency occupied a location (in the format YYYY-YYYY), the building name, city or suburb, State and, if outside Australia, the country. The format to follow is: date range, building name, city or suburb, State or Territory, country (if not Australia), eg

Agency address:

1918 - 1926: Commonwealth Offices, Treasury Gardens, Melbourne, Vic
1926 - 1936: West Block, Canberra, ACT

State and Territory names should be given using standard abbreviations: ACT, NSW, NT, Qld, SA, Tas, Vic, WA.

5.6.3.7.8.  Records created by the agency

If significant information about the creation of records by the agency is available, for example, the impact on operations of its introduction of a computer system, this can be mentioned.

Include information, if it is known, that records of an agency are held by other archival institutions or libraries. If a particular series of the agency is entirely held by another institution, this information should also be included in the note, eg

One of this agency's major series is held by the State Library of South Australia: South Australian Accession 791, Office of the Minister controlling NT index to incoming letters re NT (alphabetical).

Mention should also be made if the records of an agency no longer exist or if they have been incorporated into the records of another agency.

For Royal Commissions and judicial inquiries, note the existence of any requirement for confidentiality or secrecy of the body's records and reports. This information is often included at the beginning of reports produced by such bodies.

5.6.3.7.9.  Additional information

The agency descriptive note should be used to mention any uncertainties or assumptions associated with the registration and to specify gaps in available information.

5.6.3.7.10.  End notes and sources

The final part of the agency descriptive note should contain any references or sources directly used in the compilation of the registration (including the note).

Use either end notes or sources, or both under separate headings (where necessary). If only end notes are used, give the full citation as per the first reference method illustrated in the National Archives of Australia Style Manual. If both end notes and sources are given, list the end notes first, the sources second and use the first reference method for the sources and the second reference method for the end notes as illustrated in the National Archives of Australia Style Manual, eg

End notes

1. R Hyslop, 'The Council of Defence 1905-1939', Canberra Historical Journal, no. 27, March 1991, p. 43

or

Sources

R Hyslop, 'The Council of Defence 1905-1939', Canberra Historical Journal, no. 27, March 1991, pp. 40-46

or

End notes

1. Hyslop, Canberra Historical Journal, p. 41

Sources

R Hyslop, 'The Council of Defence 1905-1939', Canberra Historical Journal, no. 27, March 1991, pp. 40-46

When citing archival records as sources or end notes, follow the style set out for the citations of National Archives of Australia material in the National Archives of Australia Style Manual, eg

End notes

1. National Archives of Australia (ACT): A816/1; 2/301/443

Care should be exercised when citing or providing information from records that are not yet open for public access.

5.6.3.8.  Relationship to ISAAR(CPF): 2.1.4, 2.1.6, 2.1.7, 2.1.9, 3.1 (2nd ed. :  5.2.2, 5.2.3, 5.2.5, 5.2.6, 5.2.7, 5.2.8, 5.4.8, 5.4.9)

5.6.3.9.  Last updated: 24 September 2004


5.6.4.  Previous title note

Definition | Purpose | Relative importance | Sources of information | Standards for content | Amendments | Application notes | Relationship to ISAAR(CPF) | Last updated

5.6.4.1.  Definition

The official or alternative name(s) or title(s) by which an agency has been known and is no longer known because of a change in the agency’s official or alternative title.

5.6.4.2.  Purpose

(i) To document the previous official title(s) and additional name(s) by which an agency has been known.

(ii) To provide another access point for the retrieval of information about the agency

This data element is not applicable to agency registrations with Department of State or Non-executive status.  See agency registration policy.

5.6.4.3.  Relative importance

This field should be completed where applicable (if a valid alternative or previous title exists) (category 3).

5.6.4.4.  Sources of information

Information can be obtained from the agency's records, or secondary sources, eg media reports.

5.6.4.5.  Standards for content

This is a text field. Information contained here does not need to be duplicated in the agency descriptive note. A distinction needs to be made between alternative and previous titles. This can be done by indicating when a previous title is being entered, eg

for CA 4367

Previous title:
1949 - 1960: CSIRO Division of Food Preservation and Transport

1962 - 1971: CSIRO Division of Food Preservation (includes Dairy Products Research Station)

1971 - 1987: CSIRO Division of Food Research

1988 - 1992: CSIRO Division of Food Processing

5.6.4.6.  Amendments

As agencies change their names, more entries may be required in this note, thus adding to the body of information about an agency. Information can be readily copied from the Title field or the Alternative Title field, where much of this information used to reside.

5.6.4.7.  Application notes

When a continuing agency changes its title, the previous official title or titles should be entered in this note, thereby allowing the Agency Title field to contain only the most current title for the agency. Indicate the date of the title change, along with the previous title. An agency created in 1978 changed its name in 1992, eg

1978 - 1992 Garbage Waste Disposal Unit

If there is more than one previous title, the earliest title should be given first, together with the date range that the title was used. For dates, give the year only unless multiple changes occurred in the same year, eg

1847 - 1992: Sub-Collector of Customs, Port Lincoln, [South Australia]

Jul 1942 - Nov 1942: RAAF No 1 Mobile Works Squadron
Nov 1942 - Jul 1944: RAAF No 5 Mobile Works Squadron

5.6.4.8.  Relationship to ISAAR(CPF): 1.5 (2nd ed. : 5.1.5)

5.6.4.9.  Last updated:  24 September 2004


  Related Links

Previous section:  5.6.1.  Common registration notes

Next section:  5.7.  Provenance indicators

Contents:    main contents | Organisation | Agency | Person | Series | Item

Copyright