Shire of Toodyay records probed

Photo: Shutterstock.
Photo: Shutterstock.

The Shire of Toodyay has defended itself against a critical investigation into its recordkeeping, which has been labelled as "poorly implemented".

The WA Auditor General Caroline Spencer presented a report in parliament last week looking into the recordkeeping practices of four local governments.

Ms Spencer said the Shire of Toodyay did not have effective policies and procedures in place to implement their recordkeeping plans.

"Our audit reveals a trend where recordkeeping is not front of mind or adequately embedded into local governments' day-to-day business practices," she said.

"Too often records management is treated as an additional task rather than being integrated into normal business practice. Unfortunately, this audit tells a similar story.

"All local governments should check if they provide appropriate training for staff, if staff recordkeeping practices are regularly reviewed, whether records are disposed of in a timely manner, and if digital records are effectively protected."

The report's findings identified the Shire of Toodyay's digitisation of records, record management training and digital back-ups as areas for concern.

Shire of Toodyay chief executive Stan Scott said none of the four administrations examined in the report "came out smelling like roses."

"In Toodyay's case the most significant finding was some documents were hard to find or missing," he said.

"In its report the Auditor General recognised Toodyay's new record keeping facility as an exemplar of good practice.

"We did very well in the disposal of physical records in line with the General Disposal Authority for Local Government. The sector did not do so well disposal of digital records, and the Auditor General was concerned that the volume of retained records would become difficult to manage and records more difficult to locate.

"At the time of the audit, the Shire of Toodyay was tendering for a new digital record keeping system that will specifically address this issue. We acknowledge that while we have been looking at a new system we have not maintained training efforts in the old system.

"The same applies to backups. At the time of the audit we had ordered a new high speed data link, which would allow for automated cloud based backups. These arrangements have been finalised since the audit."