Dear Colleagues:

I am a little late in entering this thread from back on the 13th

I am surprised that it did not get a longer, or more involved run. Maybe
it was the date that kept everyone away, the DREADED FRIDAY THE 13TH!

Anyhow, I wish to put a simplistic proposal to you. I have borrowed, or
is that, taken on permanent loan, [with approval] from my dear friend
and RM associate Mr. Graeme Merton now retired from the Western
Australian Department of Minerals and Petroleum Resources previously the
Department of Minerals and Energy.

Graeme was kind enough to supply me with his version of - not what a
record is or is not, but - five simple criteria that one should pass by
the thought process when receiving or crating documents in whatever

I have taken the liberty to put my own flavor to the wording in addition
to the original text and I identify my input in bold, italics and

I only hope the bold, italics and underlined comes through on when

I trust that my fellow list members find this simple but effective
process of value.


Practical decision making criteria based on initial information supplied


There are at least five practical criteria for deciding whether or not
to retain any physical or electronic record including fax and E-mail
records. Meeting any one of the five criteria means the record should be
kept. The criteria apply to Facsimile and E-mail messages as indicated

Underpinning the criteria is the fact that at any given point the
organisation may be required, while discharging its statutory duties, to
provide legally acceptable proof of what course of action was taken, and
why the decision was made to take it and to provide proof of its

This proof will require that the evidence in question has not, or could
not be altered from the time of its receipt or creation. In effect this
situation requires that no record, or any version of the record can be
altered after it is capture on creation, and or receipt.

The criteria are:

1. Does the document or object, [physical or electronic] convey
information considered essential or relevant in making a decision?

2. Does the document or object, [physical or electronic] convey
information upon which others (including the organisation) will be, or
are likely to be, making decisions affecting their business operations,
or rights and obligations under legislation?

3. Does the document or object, [physical or electronic] commit the
organisation or its officers to certain courses of action or the
commitment of resources or provision of services?

4. Does the document or object, [physical or electronic] convey
information about matters of public safety or public interest, or
involve information upon which contractual undertakings are entered

5. Is the information likely to be needed for future use, or is it of
historical value or interest?

It is therefore essential that great care is exercised to ensure the
decision-making trail, which includes any of the documents or objects,
[physical or electronic], E-mail or electronic transaction which meets
any of the above five criteria, is recorded and placed on the relevant
corporate file.


Updated to its current wording identified by italics to replace some
internal wording plus additional input by Laurie Varendorff ARMA
2002-12-02 from the original DMPR wording.

Regards, Laurie

Mr Daniel Lawrance [Laurie] Varendorff, ARMA

A Records Management Professional, and proud of the fact

Consultant/Trainer/Tutor/Presenter: Records and Information Management

Imaging and Micrographic Specialist: 28 years experience

The Varendorff Consultancy

ABN: 77 836 801 165

27 Ronneby Rd, Lesmurdie, Western Australia 6076 - AUSTRALIA

PHONE: +61 8 9291 6925 - MOBILE: +61 0417 094 147

EMAIL:            [log in to unmask]


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