CRS Manual - Organisation

Definition

For the Archives’ purposes, organisations are a means of representing the high level administrative context of agencies. An organisation is defined as a whole government, learned society, church or company that is independent (or broadly autonomous), eg

CO 1 Commonwealth of Australia

The business and functions of an organisation are regarded as being exercised through the agencies it controls.

In addition to records of the Commonwealth Government, the Archives has received and, therefore, needs to control and manage records documenting functions that were previously carried out by agencies of colonial, state and foreign administrations. There is also a need, occasionally, to document the movement of an agency (and responsibility for its records) from one organisation to another.

A registration at organisation level is used to link one or more agencies, historically, to their broadest administrative group. It is also used to facilitate the assembling of reports, such as inventories of agencies, which list agencies according to their respective organisations. Ultimately, this allows series and record items to be placed within their organisational context, that is, it can be established that a record was created by a State or Territory government agency rather than a Commonwealth government agency.

It is accepted that agencies can move, essentially unchanged, between organisations over time. The device of separate registration of organisations and linking them to the agencies they control is an efficient way of reflecting administrative changes at the highest level. For example, the transfer of the Canberra Theatre Trust (CA 3285) from the Commonwealth Government (CO 1) to the Australian Capital Territory Government (CO 105) can be shown by a simple amendment to the organisation controlling information in the Agency Registration, eg

CA 3285, Canberra Theatre Trust
          Organisation controlling:
21 Jun 1965 - 16 May 1989: CO 1 Commonwealth of Australia
16 May 1989 - :CO 105 Australian Capital Territory Government

Registration policy

Register a new organisation where there is a need to register an agency that cannot be linked appropriately, over the date range of the agency, to organisations that have already been registered.

The registration and documentation of organisations is a relatively low priority for the Archives at present, and there is little or no attempt to document the complex relationships that sometimes exist within and between organisations. In cases where there are ‘sub-organisations’ or organisations within organisations, register the highest or peak organisation. This will enable all agencies controlled to be represented within one corporate whole.

In general, an agency registration should show links to one or more organisations covering the date range of the agency. However, where continuing agencies controlled by a registered organisation, other than the Commonwealth of Australia, have permanently withdrawn their records from the Archives, there is no need to register subsequent organisations simply to update the Organisation Controlling entry on the agency registrations.

Privatisation of Commonwealth institutions

For the period an agency is a Commonwealth institution under the Archives Act 1983, it comes within CO 1, Commonwealth of Australia. A new organisation should be registered where, through immediate or progressive privatisation, the institution ceases to be a Commonwealth institution and does not subsequently form part of another existing registered organisation. In such cases the former Commonwealth institution becomes eligible for the Corporate Archives Service as a newly registered organisation. The agency or agencies within the institution may or may not be substantially affected through a change of organisation. In CRS System practice, the existence of a new organisation can be recognised, with the existing agency regarded as continuing under the control of the new organisation from a particular date. For example, in the case of CA 2576, Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission (from 1990) Limited, Head Office, two organisations have exercised control over time:

02 Nov 1961 - 22 Oct 1990: CO 1 Commonwealth of Australia
22 Oct 1990 - :CO 116 Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL) Limited

Outsourcing of work to non-Commonwealth bodies

Do not register an organisation where agencies of that body are performing functions on behalf of, or under contract to, a Commonwealth institution, and where any records produced are Commonwealth records or will automatically become Commonwealth records at the end of the arrangement. Records which are generated in such an outsourcing arrangement should be treated as records of the Commonwealth agency that delegates the work.

The relevant agency of the Commonwealth should be noted as the recording agency for these records, which removes the need to register a new organisation. Where the consultant or contractor is a high profile organisation or person, and is closely identified with the project they are undertaking for the Commonwealth, reference to the consultant or contractor in series registrations (in series titles or notes) is justified on the grounds of providing relevant context and improving accessibility.

Depth of description

The current policy is to do minimal documentation of organisations. Only a few attributes have been included in RecordSearch and only a small number are mandatory. The attributes have been categorised according to the role they play in the registration and description process. Four broad categories of relative importance have been established.

Category 1 Must be present for all registrations
Category 2 Must be present, where applicable, to provide essential context or facilitate management
Category 3 Should be completed, where applicable to provide additional context
Category 4 Should be completed for significant registrations; may be completed in other cases

Attributes of organisation registrations are listed below.

Identification and descriptive elements Relative importance
Number1
 Title 1
 Date range 1
 Alternative title 2
Registration standard 2
 Descriptive note4
Archivist note2
Control and management attributes
Availability indicator2
Date last modified 1
Registration date 1
Last modified by1

Preparing for registration

Preparing an organisation registration involves two major steps:

1. Check RecordSearch to see that the organisation is not already registered

It is essential to make a thorough check of RecordSearch to see whether an organisation has already been registered.

2. Assemble information

Information, which may be in the form of press clippings, extracts from legislation and articles of association or reference sources such as encyclopaedia, should be sufficient to confirm the existence and independent status of the organisation and enable it to be placed  in its historical context. Some matters arising from research of this kind that may be included in the Organisation Descriptive Note are:

Agencies controlled by an organisation are linked to it through an organisation controlling relationship in an Agency registration.

Quality control and monitoring arrangements

If you are preparing or revising registrations you are primarily responsible for ensuring that each registration is accurate, well presented, and has an appropriate level of information in accordance with the Archives’ procedures. Quality control and monitoring of registration and description is also undertaken by local supervisors and staff responsible for quality control nationally. Never add registrations in draft form to the publicly available database.

Other sources of information

Organisation number

Definition

The organisation number is a unique alpha-numeric identifier which is given to each registered organisation.

Purpose

The purpose of the organisation number is to distinguish an organisation from all other registered organisations.

Relative importance

This is a mandatory field (category 1).

Sources of information

The number is assigned by RecordSearch.

Standards for content

Each number consists of CO followed by a number, eg

CO 1, CO 50, CO 112

Amendments

Organisation number is protected against update.

Application notes

This number is allocated by RecordSearch upon committing the registration details.

Relationship to ISAAR(CPF): 1.1

Organisation title

Definition

The organisation title is the full official title of the organisation being registered.

Purpose

The purpose of the organisation title is to identify the organisation being registered and to provide the principal access point for users to retrieve the registration.

Relative importance

This is a mandatory field (category 1).

Sources of information

Information for this field should be obtained from primary or secondary sources.

Amendments

Minimal variation of the title would be expected. Changes would be explained in the Descriptive Note, not the Alternative Title.

Application notes

The title should reflect the legal name of the organisation at its corporate level. It should not reflect the administrative structure or include references to headquarters or central office. Avoid abbreviations of common names such as ‘Inc.’ and ‘Govt’, eg.

CO 96 Australian Freedom from Hunger Campaign Incorporated
CO 105 Australian Capital Territory Government
CO 98 Institution of Engineers, Australia

Qualifiers which describe the function of a business can be added if the organisation is business related and the business name on its own gives no indication of its function, eg

CO 104 Donald Cant, Watts, Hawes & Lee (Quantity Surveyor)

 

Relationship to ISAAR(CPF): 1.3

Organisation date range

Definition

The organisation date range is the start date and end date of the organisation being described.

Purpose

The purpose of the organisation date range is to help identify the organisation and set it in its historical context.

Relative importance

This is a mandatory field (category 1). An Organisation start date must be completed for all registrations.

Standards for content

All dates in predetermined date fields are subject to validation to facilitate searching, sorting, validations and consistency in reports. It is not necessary to enter day, month and year if the full date is not known. Use a date qualifier only if the year is in doubt. (Unless notes are kept to indicate the part or parts of the date to which a qualifier applies, the use of the qualifier can be misleading, especially when just year ranges and qualifiers are presented in reports.)

Date range conventions

Start date qualifier

(only if year is in doubt)

circa

by

Start date

1952

May 1952

23 May 1952

End date qualifier

(only if year is in doubt)

circa

by

End date

1978

Nov 1978

23 Nov 1978

Amendments

Amendments can be made to change incorrect data, or to add an end date.

Application notes

Approximate dates are acceptable in most circumstances as secondary sources may be scant. Nor does the generally low priority justify the need for extensive research. Where the need to register an organisation is the result of the sale of a government enterprise, the date of sale in the contract is considered appropriate for the start date.

Relationship to ISAAR(CPF): 1.3; 2.1.3

Organisation alternative title

Definition

The organisation alternative title is a meaningful acronym or abbreviation of an organisation’s title or, if this cannot be found, a repeat of the full title.

Purpose

The purpose of this field is to allow for the entry of an abbreviation or acronym by which the organisation is, or was, commonly known. It ensures that the organisation can be located in RecordSearch by searching for an abbreviation or acronym, if one exists, and not just by its full organisation title.

Relative importance

This field must be completed for all registrations (category 1).

Sources of information

For information, examine secondary sources.

Standards for content

This is a text field. In the case of CO 4, the full title is ‘Province of South Australia’: the abbreviated title is ‘Province of SA’.

Application notes

The Alternative or Abbreviated Title field is useful when the organisation is included in reports listing agency titles.

Relationship to ISAAR(CPF): 2.1.2

Registration standard

Definition

The registration standard is a value that indicates the extent of detail present in the registration and its reliability. 

Purpose

The purpose of the registration standard is to indicate the extent of trustworthiness of the information contained in the registration.

Relative importance

This field is generally optional, but essential if information is circumspect (category 2).

Sources of information

For information examination the secondary sources.

Standards of content

For organisation registrations that are not complete and accurate, there is only one value to indicate an alternate registration standard (complete registrations do not require an entry in the field):

Amendments

The status of provisional registrations should be reviewed (and updated where possible) six to twelve months after initial registration, resources permitting.

Application notes

A provisional registration indicates that there is some uncertainty about specific aspects of the description, that is, the information cannot be confirmed. The independence of the organisation may be circumspect, or it has still to be confirmed that the organisation, while legitimate, did not exist under another name.

 

Organisation Descriptive Note

Definition

An Organisation Descriptive Note is a textual description of the functions of an organisation.

Purpose

The purpose of this note is to briefly explain why an organisation was registered under the auspices of the CRS System and what functions it performed. Its relationship to the Commonwealth of Australia should be explained; for example, it acquired records previously controlled by the Commonwealth, but for availability reasons the records are remaining in the custody of the National Archives.

Relative importance

This field is optional (category 4). However, an explanation of why the Archives has registered a body that is not part of the Commonwealth of Australia would be helpful.

Sources of information

For information, examine secondary sources.

Standards for content

The note should be in prose style, using the headings as a guide. The headings are:

Creation
Abolition
Functions
Purpose of registration
End notes
Source notes

Amendments

Given the intended brevity of this note, amendments would largely be related to the abolition of an organisation and reasons why. Such abolition might be related to the end of the Archives' relationship with that organisation. For example, the records which passed to its control were withdrawn and the Archives had no further connection with the agencies within that organisation or with the records. The details of the organisation would remain in the Archives' finding aids to indicate where the records went and as an historical reference to past Commonwealth interest.

Application notes

The note should be brief and focus on why the organisation needed to be registered, rather than a history of the organisation. Explain the nature of inheritance from other bodies.

 

Relationship to ISAD(G):

Archivist Note

Definition

The Archivist Note is an electronic note for file to record management decisions about the Archives relationships with an organisation, where the Archives still has a continuing interest. This note is intended for internal staff use but can be publicly disclosed to clarify matters relating to public access to records.

Purpose

The purpose of this field is to record decisions at agency level that might affect overall relations, rather than specific series or items. Each of the notes is treated as a transaction and cannot be altered once it has been committed. Therefore it will enable documentation of the Archives' relations with the agency over time. The note is not intended to contain sensitive information, rather management information of minimal value to those outside the Archives.

Relative importance

The notes are essential to record unusual features about the organisation. The field should be completed if necessary (category 2).

Sources of information

Information can be obtained from discussions with the organisation's staff and clients. 

Standards for content

This is a text field, using functionality of general word processing packages and mark-up language tools. There are no subheadings within this note. Check spelling and punctuation carefully before saving, as others will read or make reference to the note over time.

Amendments

Once a note is saved to RecordSearch, it cannot be amended. A further note must be created for additional information. Notes must be carefully checked before saving to ensure that there are no errors. An organisation is unlikely to have more than one archivist note attached to it over time, but it may be required. The note can be copied to create an additional note for similar issues that relate to another organisation, but once saved it becomes a separate note.

Application notes

Use your discretion when identifying what information about the relations with an organisation would be of general interest, and therefore contained in the organisation descriptive note, and what is of internal management use only, and would be contained in the archivist note.

Transactions that may require an archivist note include:

 

Relationship to ISAD(G):