The Commonwealth Record Series (CRS) Manual


5.4. Agency - Descriptive elements

On this page (2 of 2) :

5.4.5.  Agency date range
5.4.6.  Agency status code
5.4.7.  Agency location

Go to:  Agency descriptive elements - page 1

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5.4.5.  Agency date range

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

5.4.5.1.  Definition

The dates an agency was created, and if applicable, abolished.

5.4.5.2.  Purpose

To accurately identify an agency and its period of operation.  This information is further used to identify relevant series and items the agency recorded within this period.

5.4.5.3.  Relative importance

Category 1 - must be present for all registrations.

5.4.5.4.  Sources of information

The agency's records are a major source, along with the various sources outlined in the notes below.

5.4.5.5.  Standards for content

There are several sub-elements: start date, end date, start date qualifier, end date qualifier. Dates are entered as DD Mon YYYY with qualifiers (by and c), for example, by 15 Jan 1951. For further detail on expression of dates, refer to Expression of Dates in section 3.3.

5.4.5.6.  Amendments

When an agency is abolished the correct end date will need to be added. For many agencies this will first become evident when a successor agency becomes an active client of the Archives and itself is registered.

5.4.5.7.  Application notes

It is important that you take adequate steps to ensure that Agency Date Range information is accurate.

5.4.5.7.1.  General comments about creation and abolition dates
5.4.5.7.2.  Departments of State
5.4.5.7.3.  Royal Commissions and judicial inquiries
5.4.5.7.4.  Parliamentary Committees
5.4.5.7.5.  Ships, Military and Air Force units
5.4.5.7.6.  Boards, committees and authorities
5.4.5.7.7.  Agencies not created or abolished by legislation

5.4.5.7.1.  General comments about creation and abolition dates

Agencies may be directly established by legislation, that is, Acts, Regulations and Ordinances. The same legislation may also abolish previous agencies and create subsequent agencies, and (in conjunction with the records) form a useful source for establishing agency date ranges.

While legislation is an important source in determining an agency's creation date, care needs to be taken in extracting information from legislation. Legislation may merely confirm or formalise the existence of an agency rather than establish it, for example, the Archives Act formally established and recognised an agency that already existed. The date when the legislation comes into effect conventionally provides the date of creation for the agency; so examine the legislation to see if the agency came into effect on the date of assent, on a fixed date given by the legislation or on the date of proclamation. Occasionally, legislation that creates agencies comes into effect on the appointment of the agency's first members (usually notified in the Commonwealth Gazette).

Major sources for the creation and abolition of Commonwealth departments are the minutes of the Federal Executive Council (or the Special Gazettes that notify the agency's creation or abolition).

Some agencies are abolished by a specific piece of legislation, usually an Act. The date when the abolition comes into effect provides the date abolished and is often specified in the preliminary section of the Act. This date is usually the date of assent, a specific date mentioned within the Act itself, or a date notified by proclamation in the Commonwealth Gazette.

Sources for creation and abolition dates for specific types of agencies are mentioned briefly below.

5.4.5.7.2.  Departments of State

Departments of State are created and abolished by meetings of the Federal Executive Council. The decision about the administrative arrangements is then notified in a special issue of the Commonwealth Gazette which usually cites the Executive Council minute number and a date of effect.

The branch or state offices of some departments are sometimes established after the department as a whole has come into being. This is especially the case for early Commonwealth departments. The date of creation for branch or state offices is the date on which they commenced operating and began creating records, a date which may be some time after the establishment of the central office.

If the Special Gazette notifies that the name of a department has been changed, for the National Archives of Australia's purposes this is equivalent to the abolition of that department and the Federal Executive Council minute would be used as the source for dates of the abolition of the old and creation of the new departments.

5.4.5.7.3.  Royal Commissions and judicial inquiries

Royal Commissions are established by Letters Patent and the agency start date is the date on which Letters Patent were issued. This information is usually supplied by the Report of the Royal Commission (published in Commonwealth Parliamentary Papers), in media reports at the time of its establishment and in material issued by the Royal Commission describing its activities and calling for public submissions or involvement.

For judicial inquiries, the creation date may be extracted from the records produced by the agency, from its report or from contemporary press releases and media coverage about its establishment. The date of creation is conventionally the date on which the first members of the judicial inquiry were appointed. For cases where records pre-date these appointments, the creation date would be the date on which the first records were created.

The abolition date for Royal Commissions is taken as the date on which the Royal Commission tenders its final report to the commissioning authority (usually the Governor-General). This date is customarily supplied by the report itself when it is published as a Parliamentary Paper.

Royal Commissions occasionally continue their investigative activities after the presentation of their final report. It is common for administrative activities associated with the Commission, for example, disposition of records and staffing, publication of activities, to continue after the report has been tendered and the Royal Commission has formally ceased. The end date would then be the date on which the last records were created by the agency. In a case such as this, the date on which the report was tendered and the subsequent creation of records should be mentioned in the Agency Descriptive Note.

Royal Commissions are usually directed to complete their investigations within a specified period. If this time proves insufficient, they may be granted an extension - usually authorised by the issue of separate Letters Patent. Care should be taken to reflect this extension in the Agency Descriptive Note and, as appropriate, in the Agency Date Range.

5.4.5.7.4.  Parliamentary Committees

The creation date of a Parliamentary Committee is conventionally the date of the resolution which established the Parliamentary Committee and nominated its members. If there are two resolutions, one establishing the Parliamentary Committee and a second nominating members at a later date, the second date should be used as the creation date but both dates should be mentioned in the Agency Descriptive Note.

Some Parliamentary Committees were officially established by a resolution of the House or Senate. They were then reconstituted in successive sessions of Parliament. The date of reconstitution should not be included as the start date, only the date of the Committee's establishment. However, the date of reconstitution may be mentioned in the Agency Descriptive Note, checking that there have been no changes of name or function and that it is only one agency.

The abolition date of a Select Committee is the date of its last meeting (unless it was specifically abolished by resolution of the House or Senate or it produced records after that date). A Standing Committee which is not reconstituted after a general election is regarded as having ceased on the last day of the previous parliamentary session. This information may be extracted from the records of the Committee itself, its report (published in Parliamentary Papers), Votes and Proceedings, or Hansard.

5.4.5.7.5.  Ships, Military and Air Force units

Ships in the Royal Australian Navy are regarded as being agencies from the time when they are formally commissioned. Appropriate sources are the agency's records, the records of the superior agency, or secondary sources such as:

J Moore (editor), Jane's Fighting Ships (various editions), Jane's Yearbooks, London

J Bastock, Australia's Ships Of War, Angus & Robertson, Sydney 1975

Army and Air Force units are also dated from the formal date on which they were raised which is covered in, for example, a Military or Air Force Order.

The abolition date is the date when the ship is formally decommissioned or when the Army or Air Force unit is formally deactivated.

5.4.5.7.6.  Boards, committees and authorities

Many boards, committees and authorities are not specifically established by legislation. Their creation date is the date on which the first members were appointed or when the record system was first created (if this pre-dates the appointment of members). Sources for this information include:

The abolition date of a board, committee or authority not specifically abolished by legislation is conventionally the date of its final meeting. If the agency continued to create records and operate after this meeting, that information (which would provide the abolition date) should be included in the Agency Descriptive Note.

5.4.5.7.7.  Agencies not created or abolished by legislation

When an agency is not created by specific legislation, its creation date should be determined from an examination of the agency's records (in order to determine the date when those records were first created) and from the appointment of staff. The appointment and promotion of all staff employed under the Public Service Act is notified in the Commonwealth Gazette.

If other information is unavailable, the agency may be taken to have formally commenced from the date of appointment of its first staff.

When an agency is not abolished by specific legislation, its abolition date should also be determined from an examination of the agency's records. The date of abolition would be the last date on which it created records.

Where information is not readily available and time is limited, a basic date range for many agencies can be determined using the Federal Guides and Commonwealth Directories. Information in these works will often show the year the agency commenced or ceased to operate. Secondary sources, such as official histories, encyclopaedias, and academic works may also provide useful information, although such detailed research is usually limited to major agencies.

5.4.5.8.  Relationship to ISAAR(CPF): 2.1.3 (2nd ed. :  5.2.1)

5.4.5.9.  Last updated:  24 September 2004

5.4.6.  Agency status code

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

5.4.6.1.  Definition

An acronym or abbreviation which indicates the:

(i) relative position in the administrative hierarchy or
(ii) special type

of the agency registered.

5.4.6.2.  Purpose

To facilitate the retrieval of agencies that belong to a particular category. For example, for survey, data administration or analysis.  The agency status code chosen determines further data elements to be described in an agency registration.

5.4.6.3.  Relative importance

Category 1 - must be present for all registrations.

5.4.6.4.  Sources of information

Secondary sources, for example, Commonwealth Government Directory, should assist in the proper categorisation of any agency.

5.4.6.5.  Standards for content

See table below. There is a choice of mutually exclusive mandatory terms plus two optional terms. The codes COURT and INTGOV are optional and can be used in association with HO, RO or LO, while only COURT can be used with NONEX. Neither of the optional codes can be used with a DOS status code.

5.4.6.6.  Amendments

Changes to this code would be required if the status of the agency changes.

5.4.6.7.  Application notes

Select the appropriate code(s) from the table below. By convention, the Archives uses the registration for the principal agency within a Commonwealth corporation to cover the corporation as a whole, eg

Agency status code table
Mandatory CodeApplication
DOS Departments of State. No additional status codes can be used.
NONEX Non-executive. To cover the judicial and parliamentary arms of government, eg the High Court or Senate. The code is applied to Parliamentary Departments, principal registries of the High Court, Supreme Courts and Federal Courts and other Commonwealth bodies that have no minister responsible. The optional code COURT can be used in association with NONEX.
HO Head or main office of agencies, eg within a Department of State or Parliamentary Department, the principal registry of a court, central military commands (army, navy, air force and joint service), the principal office of a non-Commonwealth body; and also Royal Commissions, parliamentary committees, and other independent inquiries or committees. Either of the optional codes COURT or INTGOV can be used in conjunction with HO.
RO Major subordinate bodies of a department or non-departmental authority, eg regional or state offices of an agency that reports to an agency with CO status, major subordinate military commands, major overseas representations, departmental committees, advisory bodies. Either optional code can be used in conjunction with RO.
LO Minor bodies, eg local, field, or area office, or military unit, that are subordinate to other bodies. Either optional code can be used in conjunction with LO.
Optional Status Codes
COURT An optional code to indicate courts and tribunals.
INTGOV An optional code used to indicate intergovernmental agencies.

The use of several former codes has been suspended. STAT (Statutory Authority), GBE (Government Business Enterprise), XFOI (Exempt from FOI), COMS (Commissions, committees etc), PARL (Parliamentary agencies) and OTHGOV (non-government agencies and agencies of other governments) are no longer required to be allocated because the Archives either currently does not need the information or the categorisation is considered to be adequately achieved through other means, for example, terms from the CRS Thesaurus. These or other codes may be reintroduced should a need be identified.

5.4.6.7.1.  DOS (Department of State)

This code is used for the central offices of Commonwealth Departments of State. An example of an agency attracting a DOS code is:

CA 5, Attorney General's Department, Central Office

5.4.6.7.2.  NONEX (Non-executive agencies)

This code is applied to Parliamentary Departments, principal registries of the High Court, Supreme Courts and Federal Courts and other Commonwealth bodies that have no minister responsible. The optional code COURT can be used in conjunction with this code to indicate a main court or tribunal. An example of an agency attracting a NONEX code is:

CA 8001, Industrial Relations Court of Australia, Principal Registry

5.4.6.7.3.  HO (Head or main offices of agencies)

This code applies to head or main offices of a range of agencies within the administrative hierarchy. The code can be applied to the central office of agencies within the Australian Public Service, to the central office of a statutory authority, the principal registry of a court, or to the main offices of agencies where the agency has no one central location. This code also applies to Royal Commissions, parliamentary committees, other independent inquiries or committees and central military commands (army, navy, air force). The main office for an agency may or may not have 'central office' written in the title and may or may not have regional networks reporting to it. Examples are:

CA 1066, Commonwealth Reporting Service, Chief Reporter's Office

CA 1835, Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology, Head Office

CA 17, Department of Health, Central Office

CA 5435, Land Force Headquarters, Australian Army

CA 1059, Headquarters Operational Command, RAAF Glenbrook/ (from 1988) Air Headquarters Australia

CA 3912, Flag Officer Commanding Australian Fleet (FOCAF)/ (from 1988) Maritime Commander, Australia

CA 3641, Royal Commission on the Use and Effects of Chemical Agents on Australian Personnel in Vietnam

CA 6702, Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

CA 1973, Committee of Inquiry on Museums and National Collections

5.4.6.7.4.  RO (Regional or State offices of agencies)

This code is used for major subordinate bodies that report to agencies with a CO code, including state or territory headquarter level administration, departmental committees state registries of Courts and advisory bodies. All overseas embassies and other overseas representations or offices that report direct to agencies in Australia should be given RO status. Examples are:

CA 1330, Australian Embassy, Dublin

CA 3082, Department of Social Security, Headquarters, Northern Territory

CA 8130, RAAF No 321 Air Base Wing [ABW], Darwin, [Northern Territory]

CA 3841, Customs Representative Overseas, Tokyo [Japan]

CA 2296, Family Court of Australia, Melbourne Registry (also have code of Court)

5.4.6.7.5.  LO (Local, field units or area offices)

This code is used for those agencies which are at the lowest level in the administrative structure, for example, CES Offices in country towns or suburbs, hospitals, airports, health centres, schools, lighthouses, or railway stations. They would normally report to an agency with an RO status, or sometimes with an LO status. Overseas agencies that report through other overseas agencies with an RO status should be given LO status. Examples are:

CA 1592, Repatriation General Hospital, Hobart

CA 2814, District Employment Office, Commonwealth Employment Office, Townsville [Queensland]

CA 8118, Department of Social Security Office, Cannonvale [Queensland]

CA 4905, 40 Independent Rifle Company, Royal Tasmania Regiment, Australian Army

5.4.6.7.6.  COURT (Courts and tribunals)

This code is allocated to all courts and tribunals. Examples are:

CA 1307, Copyright Tribunal

CA 2529, Family Court of Australia, Principal Registry (also has a Nonex code)

5.4.6.7.7.  INTGOV (Intergovernmental agencies)

This code should be used for agencies that have, or have had, more than one organisation controlling at the same time, eg

CA 4028, Joint Coal Board, District Office and Medical Bureau, Corrimal [NSW]

5.4.6.8.  Relationship to ISAAR(CPF): 2.1.5 (2nd ed. :  5.2.4)

5.4.6.9.  Last updated:  24 September 2004

5.4.7.  Agency location

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

5.4.7.1.  Definition

The state(s) or territory(ies) of Australia, or location(s) outside Australia, in which the agency registered is or was physically located throughout its existence.

5.4.7.2.  Purpose

To assist the retrieval of relevant agencies by their physical location within, or without Australia.

5.4.7.3.  Relative importance

Category 1 - must be present for all registrations.

5.4.7.4.  Sources of information

The agency's records, directories, surveys and contact with agency staff.

5.4.7.5.  Standards for content

Select the appropriate code or codes from the table below.

5.4.7.6.  Amendments

Changes of location need to be noted.

5.4.7.7.  Application notes

Most agencies are only ever located in one region, but some may have been based in several regions during their existence.

Enter the appropriate code(s) from the table below:

Location code table
Australian Capital Territory ACT
Cocos or Christmas Island COCOS OR CHRISTMAS ISLAND
New South Wales NSW
Northern Territory NT
Overseas OVERSEAS
Papua New Guinea PNG
Queensland QLD
South Australia SA
Tasmania TAS
Victoria VIC
Western Australia WA

5.4.7.8.  Relationship to ISAAR(CPF): 2.1.4 (2nd ed. :  5.2.3)

5.4.7.9.  Last updated:  24 September 2004


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