PM&C Review into Cabinet breach announced

While the Australian Federal Police continue with their investigation into the loss of classified documents by the from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), the department responsible has announced its own review.

This investigation will be headed by former Australian public servant and diploma Mr Ric Smith, a former Australian Ambassador to Indonesia and China and Secretary of the Department of Defence

The breach resulted from the discovery of a slew of classified documents contained in a locked filing cabinet sold by a Canberra second hand furniture dealer.

Lisa Read White, Company Director for Records and Information Management Professionals Australasia (RIMPA), said, "The unauthorised release of cabinet documents in Australia is an opportunity to acknowledge the important role that Records and Information Managers can play in safeguarding and managing important records and information.”

“This high-profile event highlights the importance of organisations and government agencies having good policies and process in place for effective records and information management. It is important to foster a workplace culture that values and respects effective recordkeeping and information management.”

“This situation is a timely reminder that recordkeeping and information management is everybody’s responsibility in an organisation.”

Ironically, the breach came from a department that nominated itself in the 2015 National Archives of Australia Awards for Digital Excellence, for its transformation of internal processes “From paper to digital in seven days”

According to a case study on the National Archives web site, the nomination was for a project to “implement an EDRMS that:

  • provided digital continuity to the 800 IA staff who would be working in the National Office;
  • was easy for staff to use and search; and
  • provided at little cost and within a strict timeframe by leveraging PM&C's existing HP TRIM system.

“Through stakeholder engagement the need for digital record continuity became apparent; the desire to avoid incoming staff reverting to paper filing became a priority for the Records and Information Management Team (RIM) within PM&C.

“The Project has helped PM&C improve its digital information management practices. Since the implementation of the interim EDRMS solution in November 2013, electronic files account for 30 per cent of the total files created within the National Office.”

Given the nature of the documents discovered in the missing filing cabinet, which date from well after 2013, PM&C still has a way to go to achieve its full digital transformation.

The Department is currently undertaking a $A9.5 million project to redevelop the Commonwealth Government’s secure Cabinet document management system, CabNet, under the Public Service Modernisation Fund.