NAA launches Digital Authorisations Framework

The National Archives of Australia has launched a new Digital Authorisations Framework designed to assist Australian Government agencies transform analogue approval processes to fully digital approvals.

By releasing the framework, the Archives aims to help streamline approval times, support better business and more complete and accountable Government information. This is all part of the Archives work to implement the requirements of its Digital Continuity 2020 Policy, which is improving the way Government manages its information assets.

The Framework provides a series of steps that can be used to help Australian Government agencies determine an appropriate digital approval method for an individual business process, or a series of related processes. By completing an assessment, users will have a better understanding of the sorts of requirements they need to have in place to appropriately select and use a digital approval.

It is designed to acknowledge that agencies are at varying stages in implementing digital processes and approvals. Some have got there while others have manual processes in place for everything, including low risk, and/or high volume, administrative tasks. A lot of organisations fall somewhere in between.

“Fully-digital processes make good business sense, as well as supporting information re-use,” said an NAA spokesperson.

“We need to adapt and change our processes to deliver the digital Government people want and expect. We should absolutely avoid printing and signing something wherever possible”

The Framework provides options for using a range of different digital approval methods, including email, action tracking and system workflows. The advantage being this approach allows Government to better use the tools it already has. 

In addition, the Archives envisions other approval methods and controls may be used for higher risk processes, as required by legislation or where available in a particular agency. The Framework helps users identify where an additional third-party solution may need to be brought in, allowing for informed decision making based on a business risk assessment. This approach caters for agencies on either end of the digital maturity scale, while supporting a more strategic and targeted use of often limited Government resources.

Using the Framework

The Archives recommends the first step in developing digital approvals is to undertake a business process risk assessment. The Framework provides a series of short questions that can be used to determine the level of risk associated with adding a digital approval to a specific business process, in relation to matters such as expenditure thresholds and the required approval level.

The second part includes a series of modules to help identify and resolve potential risks associated with implementing a digital-approval, such as potential issues relating to stakeholder identification and agreement, and security and access.

So for instance, where the Framework identifies the need to ensure that all parties agree to complete an approval digitally, the mitigation activity is provided; that there are appropriate controls in place, including how the resulting approval and associate information will be managed.

The final part of the framework puts all this together, recommending a suitable digital approval solution based on a user’s responses, including practical recommendations for implementation.

The National Archives of Australia’s Digital Authorisations Framework can be accessed on their website, which also includes more detail about how it can be used.