No. 34, March 1995 ISSN 0811-4757Edited and published by Tim Sherratt (Tim.Sherratt@asap.unimelb.edu.au) for ASAP.
The Australian Science Archives Project recently won a major public tender to assist Generation Victoria deal with its records in the new structure that is being established for the power generating industry in Victoria. The task involves the splitting up of records that relate to the new business units from the technological and corporate support sections of Generation Victoria. These functions, which were previously centralised will now be handled directly by the new business. Generally speaking the business units are based around the existing power stations and their respective fuel source whether it be brown coal, gas or hydro. About 10% of the records will have multiple owners in the new structure so the main thrust of the project is to identify those records and arrange for them to be digitally imaged. The resultant images will be stored on CD-ROMs and accessed via a database of descriptive and contextual information about the records. The Australian Securities Commission, which has a major facility in the LaTrobe Valley won the tender for the imaging.
Following its successful work in establishing the Hazelwood Power Station archives, ASAP has commenced work on the archival records of the Morwell Mine and Southern Hydro Ltd. These projects follow a similar pattern where a local archive is created to control records that are vital to the continuous running of the businesses. It has been interesting to discover that different plant and different functions within the organisation require very different retention periods for records that at first glance would appear to be quite similar. Retention periods are often related to the life of the plant which in hydro terms may be 90 years or more but in brown coal stations may only be 15 years. Also, environmental issues now play an important part in determining retention times and in some cases records, in particular some instrumentation charts from the chimney stacks have to be kept indefinitely.
This work on the archives of the power stations and mines has led ASAP to become involved in helping the new power producing businesses establish new record management systems to allow them to meet their obligations and commitments in the new environment. This is a most complex and challenging task for which there are no simple solutions. All the businesses have mixed record environments with substantial electronic and paper-based systems. However, ASAP, with the assistance of records management consultants, are looking at records control based on the key functions of the business. These functions, for example, routine maintenance or inventory management, tend not to change over time although the organisational structures created to perform them have been changing fairly regularly in recent times.
ASAP has found in recent times that a number of science-based organisations are looking for more than just their archives being looked after. They are finding that their whole records environment needs overhauling which includes both their archival and current records. We have been successfully using the ASAP Archival Data System to control both large and small archival collections and are now finding that the same tools can be used to collect information about current records systems that can then be used to analyse record structures, relationships and record flows with the view to creating new and more appropriate systems. This exciting new extension of ASAP's work will help us better serve our clients while at the same time providing better resources for historians and other researchers both now and in the future. In the language of the power industry, we are helping them to re-engineer their records systems.
In order to run the major Generation Victoria project ASAP employed three key archival staff, Joanne Evans, Michelle Novacco and Lisa Enright to not only manage the day-to-day activities of the records processing team but also oversee the project as a whole. They have made a wonderful start with the project which began serious record processing at the beginning of March and have continued to add vitality to the work and inspire the teams they have been organising. The Melbourne Office, in dealing with the extra work load and maintaining its work on records of individuals has put on a number of extra staff including Imbi Neeme, Andrea Barnes and Lisa Ciannci.
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