Public sector agencies need to exercise vigilance over how they use and configure systems such as Microsoft 365, the chief archivist has warned.
The rollout of “evergreen” information management software solutions, most commonly Microsoft 365, presented a number of challenges, the head of Archives NZ – Te Rua Mahara or te Kāwanatanga warned in the agency’s annual report on the state of government recordkeeping.
“When configured well it is a robust information management system, but the ‘evergreen’ and constantly evolving nature of these products require active oversight and vigilance to ensure that the system configurations remain relevant and effective for the user organisation,” Stephen Clarke, who resigned in October, wrote.
The Microsoft 365 suite should be adopted with careful configuration to ensure compliance with government information and records management standards and the Public Records Act, Clarke wrote.
“The introduction of the cloud-based office productivity suite Microsoft 365 as an information management and record keeping platform has transformed the public sector both here and across the Tasman, with organizations now able to access more than 100 applications with one license,” Clarke wrote .
A leading question posed by agencies and services providers, however, had been “is M365 compliant?”.
Te Rua Mahara, who apologized for a breach of its own in December, answered this question with guidance on the public sector’s obligations under the standards and how to meet these using Microsoft 365.
“This includes assistance with configuration, ensuring the appropriate level of governance licensing, using third party add-ons for information and records management functionality, and improving organizational knowledge of the administrative applications and tools used for information management within M365.”
Archives NZ was also provided guidance to organizations on how to use the software and meet their obligations, with best configuration, correct license agreements and integration with electronic document and records management systems or enterprise content management systems.
During the year, Te Rua Mahara also explored whether machine learning tools and hyperscale cloud capabilities could help analyze information and solve other information and archival challenges.
The agency received funding from the Digital Government Partnership Innovation Fund to carry out a proof of concept.
Between February and July last year, the project aimed to test whether it was possible to use these tools for self-classification and to determine the appropriate disposal authority to apply to information and records. It also explored whether the tools could identify material of importance to communities, specifically information of interest to Māori.
Working with agencies, technology partners Microsoft and Amazon Web Services, and information management experts, Archives NZ found it was possible to do so with high accuracy.
Another project did not go so well, however.
Te Rua Mahara said it was “acutely aware” there had been performance issues with its Collections Search system since it went live in February 2022.
“The intent of Collections Search is to make it easier for our customers to access collections, and we accept that this has not always been the case,” Clarke wrote. “We remain committed to working with our provider to improve Collections Search to ensure a fully functioning and positive, on-going customer experience as the system is rectified.
Clarke resigned as chief archivist to pursue opportunities more closely aligned with digital technology and transformation.
Since October, he has been digital research director at the Department of Internal Affairs conducting a market scan project on the application of emerging data lake technology to unlock the value of unstructured data in the cloud and compliance as a consumable service.
Anahera Morehu is now acting chief archivist for a period of at least six months from October 17, 2022.
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Tags enterprise softwareArchivingSoftware as a servicemicrosoft 365Archives NZgovernmentSaaSpublic sector