Guidelines on Managing Records in a Minister’s Office (2020)

​Table of contents

1. Effective Date

These guidelines were approved by the Deputy Librarian and Archivist of Canada  and take effect on December 14, 2020.

2. Application

These guidelines provide advice for ministers and their staff to help them manage the records that they create and retain. The guidelines are part of a set, along with a Disposition Authorization added in 2020.

These guidelines supersede and replace the Guidelines on Managing Records in a Minister's Office (1992 and 2015).

The guidelines were prepared by the Archives Branch of Library and Archives Canada. They are to be applied in conjunction with:

Additional information regarding recordkeeping, information management and government records may be found in appendices A, C and D.

Recordkeepers in the Minister's Office should work closely with those responsible for managing the records and information holdings of their institution, in particular the designated Deputy Heads responsible for the implementation of the Policy on Service and Digital, 2020 (TBS).

3. Definitions

Definitions used in the interpretation of these guidelines can be found in Appendix B.

The term "information resources" is often used in the place of "record" in information management practices. In this document, the term "record" is used as described in the Library and Archives of Canada Act (LAC Act).

4. Context

The LAC Act mandates Library and Archives Canada (LAC) to be the permanent repository of publications of the Government of Canada and of government and ministerial records that are of historical or archival value. It further states:

  • No government or ministerial record […] shall be disposed of, including by being destroyed, without the written consent of the Librarian and Archivist of Canada or of a person to whom the Librarian and Archivist has, in writing, delegated the power to give such consents; and
  • The transfer to the care and control of the Librarian and Archivist of government or ministerial records that he or she considers to have historical or archival value shall be effected in accordance with any agreements for the transfer of records […].

The records created in ministers' offices constitute a significant part of Canadian political documentary heritage. They are an integral part of the history of our country. In the Canadian political system, Cabinet members play a key role in developing and implementing policies and programs, and in our collective governance.

As Canada's leading national memory institution, LAC is the institution responsible for preserving all records found in federal ministers' offices, all categories combined.

The preservation of these records will always be a priority for LAC. As outlined in the preamble of the LAC Act, LAC is "a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada as a free and democratic society". The Guidelines on Managing Records in a Minister's Office were prepared within this context for the benefit of all Canadians.

5. Purpose

The purpose of this document is to provide assistance with the management of records in a minister's office to ministers, their staff, and those responsible for records and information management in government institutions.

These guidelines provide information on how to efficiently and effectively store, manage, retrieve, and dispose of records that are created or received in a minister's office, and that continue to be under the control of the office of a minister. This includes the segregation of the four types of records commonly found in that office: Government Records, Ministerial Records, Personal and Political Records, and Cabinet Documents.

The expected results are:

  • The right, coherent and current information can be found and provided to the Minister in a timely way, to enable decision making, quality service delivery, and to support transparent, accountable, effective and efficient governance;
  • Information classified in the national interest, and other sensitive information, is protected from unauthorized access and disclosure, and loss of information or its unauthorized use is prevented;
  • Cohesive and timely response to the requirements of applicable legislation is possible;
  • The application of these guidelines from the beginning and throughout a minister's term will ensure a smooth transfer; and
  • The documentary heritage created by a minister's office is preserved.

6. Records in a Minister's Office

6.1 Managing Records in a Minister's Office

A minister in Canada's federal system of government fulfills many roles, each of which requires and generates appropriate information:

Minister's RoleInformation Created/Acquired

Member of a political party

The Minister requires information relating to policy matters, caucus affairs, party organization, nominations, election campaigns and local party machinery.

Constituency representative

The Minister exchanges correspondence with constituents, sends "householders" to constituents, and uses information relating to constituency case work and constituency office operations.

Parliamentarian

The Minister needs information on the business of Parliament, on the views of constituents, the general public, caucus and opposition members, as well as on the operations of his or her office on the Hill.

Member of the Queen's Privy Council

The Minister uses information concerning his or her responsibilities as the head of a government institution or institutions, as a member of one or more Cabinet committees, as a member chosen by the Prime Minister to carry out regional or other special responsibilities, and for the day-to-day operations of a minister's office.

6.1.1 Segregation of Records

The Minister's multiple roles require that records kept in his or her office be broken down in four categories: 1. Government Records; 2. Ministerial Records; 3. Personal and Political Records; and 4. Cabinet Documents. These records must be filed separately for reasons of operating efficiency and confidentiality, and to facilitate compliance with statutory requirements.

As confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) inCanada (Information Commissioner) v. Canada (Minister of National Defence) – (Prime Minister's Agenda case), [2011] 2 S.C.R. 306, a minister's office is not in and of itself a government institution, nor is it part of a government institution for the purposes of the Access to Information Act (ATIA). Therefore, in general the records held exclusively in a minister's office are not subject to Part 1 of the ATIA (the request-based system). However, a document held exclusively in a minister's office could be deemed to be under the control of a government institution for the purposes of s. 4 of the ATIA if the following two-step test is satisfied.

These are the two steps:

  • Do the contents of the record relate to a departmental matter?
  • If so, could the government institution reasonably expect to obtain a copy of the record?

If a record meets the first step of the test, then the second step must be considered. The SCC stated that the second step of the test is an objective one to be assessed through a review of all relevant factors, including:

  • The substantive content of the record;
  • The circumstances in which it was created; and
  • The legal relationship between the government institution and the record holder.

Only records that relate to non-departmental matters will fail to meet the first step of the test developed by the SCC. Otherwise, whether a record will meet the second step will need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis with regard to all relevant facts.Footnote1

The same two-step test would apply to records held exclusively by a minister's office that may be responsive to a personal information request under the Privacy Act.

In addition, as Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) provides ministers with budgets for exempt staff, a budget for operating their offices, and a budget for departmental staff assigned to the Minister's Office, ministers must be able to differentiate between expenses for activities related to the conduct of their portfolios and other official government business, and expenses incurred as members of Parliament and members of a political party. See Policies for Ministers' Offices, 2011 (TBS).

6.1.2 All Media and Formats

Regardless of the medium or form used to create them, the records in a minister's office provide evidence of the activities, decisions and responsibilities undertaken by the Minister in the course of his or her term of duty, and the records support the Minister's transparency and accountability with respect to Parliament and the Canadian public. These may include:

  • Textual, photographic and audiovisual records (both digital and analog);
  • Information published online;
  • Social media records and instant messaging;*
  • Emails;* and
  • Records on mobile devices.*

*Note: Decisions communicated by instant messaging, email or phone should be saved and transferred to the appropriate repository within the Minister's Office.

Recordkeeping planning is highly recommended to take place as early as possible in a minister's mandate, particularly given the increase in the use of digital records.

The information management requirements for digital records are complex due to access issues (e.g. obsolete file formats and media), and the need to capture and maintain metadata.

6.1.3 Designated Official

The Minister's Office should identify one person to oversee records and information management practices in all locations and on all devices. The records created or used by a minister may be held in more than one location (the Minister's Hill office, the Minister's departmental office, or a constituency or regional office) and on multiple mobile devices. Ideally, the designated official(s) and/or their staff should have expertise in information management.

The designated officials may consider consulting departmental information management staff responsible for government records as a potential resource for information; they may also wish to draw on the expertise available from LAC. For questions concerning training or return of Cabinet Documents, the designated official may wish to consult the Operations and Cabinet Papers System Unit of the Privy Council Office (PCO).

6.2 Government Records in a Minister's Office

6.2.1 Identification of Government Records

Government Records may be created or received by either the government institution or the Minister. They relate to and support the mandate of the government institution. Records originating from the Minister's Office that are sent to the institution, and any copies kept in the Minister's Office, are also considered Government Records.

6.2.2 Responsibilities

Government Records held in a Minister's Office pending the conclusion of an item of business are the responsibility of the government institution and are to be managed in accordance with Policy on Service and Digital (TBS, 2020) and related instruments.

Ministers' offices are not subject to the requirements of the Privacy Act or the Directive on Privacy Practices; they follow the Policies for Ministers' Offices, which sets out the following principles regarding the treatment of personal information in those offices:

  • Information should be used or disclosed only for a purpose consistent with the purpose for which it was obtained, unless the individual concerned consents to the new use or disclosure, or the disclosure is required by law;
  • Personal information should be strictly limited to individuals who have a legitimate need to know;
  • Security safeguards shall be put in place and maintained to protect personal information from unauthorized disclosure; and
  • Information that is no longer needed should be disposed of unless its retention is required by law.

It is important that the staff in the Minister's Office are aware of the definition of personal information and how to manage personal information appropriately.

In certain circumstances the Minister, or his or her designate, may be tasked to retrieve Government Records in his or her possession that are responsive to a request received by the government institution under the Privacy Act or the Access to Information Act. The Minister may designate an official to retrieve responsive records or certify that there are no responsive records. It is important to note that it is an offence under s. 67.1 of the ATIA to destroy, falsify, conceal, etc., a record with intent to deny a right of access under the ATIA.

The institution's Access to Information and Privacy office can provide more information.

6.2.3 Records Management

Sound management of Government Records in a Minister's Office includes organizing and classifying the records in a manner that allows their identification and retrieval in support of the business of the Minister, including providing records that may be responsive to access to information and personal information requests in the specific and limited circumstances described above.

The Minister's Office should return Government Records to the institution as soon as it no longer requires them. Until Government Records are returned, the Minister's Office should store them separately from other records.

For convenience, the Minister's Office may wish to maintain a complete or partial series of the Government Records that it creates or receives. Although located in the Minister's Office, these records are under institutional control. Where the Minister is responsible for multiple institutions and/or portfolio agencies, a means should be in place to allow for easy differentiation and management of records for each institution.

When the Minister's Office adds content to a Government Record and/or creates background information on a Government Record that it would not readily share with the government institution, that new record is a Ministerial Record.

The Minister's Office should ensure these two sets of records remain segregated, and that a means of cross-referencing the related records is in place, such as a numbering system. The Minister's Office should also ensure that the annotated portions of Ministerial Records can be readily severed from the original content of the Government Records upon which they are based.

File Classification Scheme

As Government Records in a Minister's Office are governed by the information management requirements of the Policy on Service and Digital, 2020 (TBS) ministers' offices are advised to adopt the institution's classification scheme, when one exists, as the basis of their own classification system for those records. This one-to-one relationship between classification structures will greatly facilitate the exchange of records between the Minister's Office and the institution.

It may be useful to create a simplified version of the institution's file classification structure by focusing on the major functions or groups of records used.

Note: An institution will usually have a complex classification structure to reflect greater volumes of more detailed information, whereas it is usually only condensed documents or those of a high or aggregated level of detail that are referred to in the Minister's Office.

If the institutional structure incorporates a system of coding, i.e. numbered documents or files, it may be useful to incorporate these codes or, preferably, the primary element of the code into the Minister's Office classification structure to establish a direct relationship between the institution's records and corresponding records in the office of a minister. For example, the Minister's Office might adopt an institutional file code such as "4500-3-05/06 (General Administration and Management – Business Planning Coordination, Level 3 Business Plan, Fiscal Year 2005/2006)" as "4500 – General Administration and Management."

Upon Changing Portfolios or Leaving Office

No Government Record or Ministerial Record shall be disposed of, including by being destroyed, without the written consent of the Librarian and Archivist of Canada (s. 12 of the LAC Act).

Government Records that are found in a minister's office after he or she has changed portfolios or left office should be returned to the institution.

6.3 Ministerial Records

6.3.1 Identification of Ministerial Records

Examples of Ministerial Records may include the following types of documents:

  • Records that reflect deliberations by a minister and exempt staff, or communications between ministers on policy matters on matters not directly related to a minister's portfolio;
  • Records documenting official assignments other than departmental or portfolio duties;
  • Any document relating to Cabinet confidences not part of the Cabinet paper system;
  • Records concerning administrative matters that pertain only to the Minister's Office or duties (as opposed to as head of a Government of Canada institution);
  • Copies of Government Records and other sources that help to present a complete picture of the subject concerned and that are, therefore, annotated and retained in or integrated into Ministerial Records by the Minister or exempt staff; and
  • Records from the Prime Minister that relate to matters that are outside of the Minister's current portfolio but may be expected to lead to the creation of new institutions or additional responsibilities being assigned to existing institutions.

6.3.2 Responsibilities

  • The Minister, or his or her designate, is responsible for ensuring that Ministerial Records are well managed.
  • The Minister, or his or her designate, is also responsible for ensuring that Ministerial Records can be differentiated from Government Records found in his or her office.
  • The Minister, or his or her designate, is responsible for providing Government Records in his or her possession that are responsive to a request received by the government institution under the Privacy Act and/or the ATIA. Although the designation of a record as a Ministerial Record or a Government Record may be a factor to be taken into account, ultimately the two-part test set out by the SCC will be applicable to such records and will determine whether any of them are subject to the ATIA or the Privacy Act.

6.3.3 Records Management

Sound management of Ministerial Records includes organizing and classifying the records in a manner that allows their identification and retrieval in support of the business of the Minister. Ministerial Records should be stored in a way that ensures their integrity, protection and security.

Ministerial Records should be kept distinct from other types of records in the Minister's Office. This can best be accomplished by creating and maintaining a separate series for Ministerial Records through the use of metadata tagging or by physically segregating the paper records from Government Records, Personal and Political Records, and Cabinet Documents.

File Classification Scheme

While infrequent, if a Ministerial Record is created in relation to a record that originated as a Government Record, the simplest means of identifying and cross-referencing the Ministerial Record to the government institution's file would be to keep the same file number, but by adding an "M" to the beginning of the file to identify it as "Ministerial":

  • Government file classification: 4500-3-05/06 (General Administration and Management – Business Planning Coordination, Level 3 Business Plan, Fiscal Year 2005/2006);
  • Ministerial file classification: M4500-3-05/06 (General Administration and Management – Business Planning Coordination, Level 3 Business Plan, Fiscal Year 2005/2006).

However, as a Ministerial Record will often concern a function that may not be included in the government institution's file classification scheme, a separate or expanded system is regularly needed. While classifying records according to their subject was once a common practice, current best practices base classification on an analysis of business functions and activities. A function-based approach anchors information and records classification firmly in business processes and activities. If desired, the Minister's Office may consult the government institution's Information Management team for advice on setting up segregated systems for each category of information.

Upon Changing Portfolios or Leaving Office
Under section 12 of the LAC Act, no Government Record or Ministerial Record shall be disposed of, including by being destroyed, without the written consent of the Librarian and Archivist of Canada. To inquire about the disposition of Ministerial Records at any time during the Minister's tenure or when the Minister leaves office, the Minister's Office should contact LAC.

6.3.4 Disposition of Records

In order to properly manage and dispose of its records, a minister's office must manage its Ministerial Records in accordance with LAC's Authorization for the Disposition of Ministerial Records.

6.3.5 Transfer to Library and Archives Canada

LAC identifies those Ministerial Records that have archival or historical value, specifies how and when these archival records may be transferred to LAC, and specifies the conditions of access to transferred Ministerial Records. Normally, access would be limited, for a specified period, to the Minister and persons authorized by the Minister.

If a minister's office has dedicated space for ministerial digital records set up by the departmental Information Technology group or Shared Services Canada, it should contact them directly to ensure the transfer of digital archival records to LAC before any disposition action occurs. Retention periods for legacy digital records vary from department to department. LAC can assist with the transfer.

For additional information on how transfers are affected, see Appendix C.

LAC recommends specific file formats for transfer for digital records, which are covered in the LAC Guidelines on File Formats for Transferring Information Resources of Enduring Value. Should there be questions about transferring digital records to LAC, including file formats, please contact LAC at bac.gouvernanceetpolitique-governanceandpolitical.lac@canada.ca.

6.4 Personal and Political Records

6.4.1 Identification of Personal and Political Records

Examples of Personal and Political Records include:

  • The Minister's constituency business and work as a member of Parliament;
  • Party political matters, including elections and leadership races, party organization, and caucus affairs;
  • Records relating to personal interests of the Minister (e.g. subject files on a cause championed over many years); and
  • Records relating to the private life of the Minister.

6.4.2 Responsibilities

As Personal and Political Records are considered a minister's private property, the Minister's Office staff are responsible for the identification of these records and for identifying which ones may be suitable for future offer to LAC. LAC can advise and will determine which offered records have historical value.

6.4.3 Records Management

Personal and Political Records are neither subject to the right of access under the ATIA and the Privacy Act, nor the records disposition provisions of the LAC Act. They should be stored separately from Government Records, Ministerial Records and Cabinet Documents. Digital Personal and Political Records should be stored on separate sub-directories of the Minister's drive or server, or printed out and maintained with the paper series of Personal and Political Records.

File Classification Scheme

As a government institution's classification system is not suitable for a minister's Personal and Political Records, the Minister's Office should adopt its own classification system. It may consult the government institution's Information Management team for advice on setting up a segregated system.

Upon Changing Portfolios or Leaving Office

Personal and Political Records are the private property of a minister. Therefore, the Minister, or his or her designate, should determine how to manage them upon changing portfolios or leaving office. Ministers may wish to consult LAC regarding the possible use of secure storage facilities offered by LAC.

6.4.4 Transfer to Archives

As private records, all Personal and Political Records belong to the Minister and are his or hers to dispose of as he or she pleases. In the past, many ministers have chosen to donate these records to LAC. LAC is actively engaged in encouraging these donations, which contribute to the building of national memory. LAC will accept analog or digital records, with a particular interest in receiving accompanying basic file indexes. In the case of digital records, minimum metadata must be provided in order to access the records. It may include any manuals or procedures for correspondence management.

If a minister's office has dedicated space for digital Personal and Political Records set up by his or her Information Technology department or Shared Services Canada, they should contact them directly to ensure the transfer of digital records to LAC before any disposition action occurs. Retention periods for digital records vary by department. LAC can assist with the transfer.

LAC recommends specific file formats and transfer guidelines for digital records; see the LAC Guidelines on File Formats for Transferring Information Resources of Enduring Value. LAC can provide further advice on many issues related to digital records.

For additional information on how transfers are effected, see Appendix C.

For information on possible tax credits for the donation of Personal and Political Records of archival value, contact the Canada Revenue Agency.

6.5 Cabinet Documents

Cabinet Documents are managed by the PCO Cabinet Papers System Unit and are part of the Cabinet Papers System.

A summary of selected portions of these documents has been provided below; however, for detailed instructions and information on managing Cabinet Documents, the Operations and Cabinet Papers System Unit of PCO should be consulted directly.

6.5.1 Identification of Cabinet Documents

The Policy on the Security of Cabinet Confidences, 2014 (PCO) and Drafting of Memoranda to Cabinet, 2017 (PCO) provide specific information for minister's offices on how to manage, distribute and secure Cabinet Documents. PCO Machinery of Government and PCO Security Operations may be contacted about these policies. They can be reached at info@pco-bcp.gc.ca.

6.5.2 Responsibilities

The efficient operation of the Cabinet and the necessary confidentiality of ministerial discussions depend, in part, on the proper handling of Cabinet Documents. Ministers ensure that Cabinet Documents provided to them are safeguarded in accordance with the security requirements set by PCO or, for Cabinet Documents related to the Treasury Board, by TBS.

While the Minister, or his or her designate, is responsible for the proper handling and security of any Cabinet Documents in his or her office, any/all inquiries for accessing Cabinet Documents should be directed to, and handled by, PCO.

6.5.3 Records Management

Ministers, or their designates, assign to members of their staff the responsibility for managing and ensuring the security of Cabinet Documents.

It should be noted that a record containing Cabinet confidences that is not a Cabinet Document is either an institutional record (if it originated with the institution) or a Ministerial Record (if it originated with the office of a minister, e.g. a briefing note containing political advice to a minister regarding a Cabinet matter) and should be treated accordingly.

Upon Changing Portfolios or Leaving Office

When a minister leaves office, any Cabinet Documents remaining in the former office are managed in accordance with PCO's policies and recommendations.

7. Roles and Responsibilities

LAC is responsible for these guidelines and for providing additional advice to minister's offices on recordkeeping and information management as requested.

Shared Services Canada has a service-level agreement in place with some minister's offices for digital storage of records managed in those offices.

PCO is responsible for the management of Cabinet Documents.

TBS is responsible for policy on government records and information management.

Refer to the Policy on Service and Digital, 2020 (TBS) and the Directive on Service and Digital, 2020 (TBS) for additional information on roles and responsibilities pertaining to information management in the Government of Canada.

8. Monitoring, Evaluation and Review

LAC will review these guidelines to assess their effectiveness every four years, or as needed preceding an election year, following the date that these guidelines come into effect.

9. Consequences

Consequences that may result from non-compliance or inadequate risk management may include the destruction of documentary heritage in a minister's office; the loss of readily available and reliable information in a minister's office, resulting in the inability to make decisions and provide quality, transparent, accountable, effective and efficient government; the inadequate protection of classified and personal information; a privacy breach; and non-compliance with federal legislation on access to information, privacy, and security of information.

10. Information

Please address any questions to:
Political Archives Section
Library and Archives Canada
550 de la Cité Boulevard
Gatineau, Quebec
J8T 0A7
Telephone 613-996-5115 or 1-866-578-7777
(ask for Political Archives Section in Private Archives Division)
bac.gouvernanceetpolitique-governanceandpolitical.lac@canada.ca

Appendix A: Related Documents

Legislation

Access to Information Act
Canada Evidence Act
Library and Archives of Canada Act
Privacy Act
Security of Information Act
Lobbying Act
Conflict of Interest Act

Policies

Policy on Service and Digital (TBS, 2020)
Open and Accountable Government (PMO, 2015)  
Policies for Ministers' Offices (TBS, 2011)
Policy on the Security of Cabinet Confidences (PCO, 2014)
Confidences of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada (Cabinet confidences), TBS
Guidelines on the conduct of Ministers, Ministers of State, exempt staff and public servants during an election (PCO, 2019)
Drafting of Memoranda to Cabinet (PCO, 2017)
Directive on Privacy Practices (TBS, 2014)

Reports

Implementation Report No. 115 – Access to Records in a Minister's Office – Prime Minister's Agenda Case (TBS, 2013)

Appendix B: Definitions

The following definitions supplement those provided in the LAC Act for the interpretation of these guidelines.

Cultural property [Biens culturels]
Any object included in the Control List designated by Canada as being of importance for archaeology, prehistory, history, literature, art or science (s. 38 of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act).
Disposition authorization [Autorisations de disposer]
The instruments that enable government institutions to dispose of records that no longer have operational value, either by permitting their destruction (at the discretion of institutions), by requiring their transfer to LAC, or by agreeing to their alienation from the control of the Government of Canada.
Metadata [Métadonnées]
Information used to contextualize, manage, preserve, and provide access to documentary heritage.
Administrative metadata [Métadonnées administratives]
Information that facilitates both short-term and long-term management and processing of holdings, which includes the following:
  • Technical data on creation and quality control;
  • Rights management, access control, and use requirements; and
  • Preservation action information, such as information or data on copying or treatment.
Personal and Political Records [Documents personnels ou politiques]
Records that relate to Parliament, party and political matters, or to the Minister's personal life.
Privacy breach [Atteinte à la vie privée]
The improper or unauthorized creation, collection, use, disclosure, retention or disposition of personal information.
Retention period [Délai de conservation]
The amount of time a record must be kept to meet administrative, fiscal, legal or historical requirements.
Transitory records [documents éphémères]
Transitory records are not of business value. They may include records that serve solely as convenience copies of records held in a minister's office repository, but do not include any records that are required to control, support or document the delivery of programs, to carry out operations, to make decisions, or to provide evidence to account for the activities of government at any time. Examples of transitory records may be found in the Generic Application Guide for the Disposition Authorization for Transitory Records (DA 2016/001) issued by LAC.

Appendix C: Transfer of Personal and Political Records, and Ministerial Records, to LAC

In addition to Government Records, LAC is mandated to ensure that Personal and Political Records, and Ministerial Records, of national and historical significance are preserved for the use of present and future generations of Canadians. As Personal and Political Records, and Ministerial Records, are not deemed Government Records, they are not transferred to LAC automatically. Instead, they are transferred to LAC by the Minister, or his or her designated staff.

Deposit Service Versus Formal Acquisition of Records:

As ministers have legal responsibilities to protect any Cabinet confidences that may be found among Ministerial Records, and ethical responsibilities to protect personal and political information found among the records in their offices, it is important to note the two distinct services offered by LAC during the transfer of such records, and the differences between LAC's deposit service and the potential future formal acquisition of material.

Deposit Service:

LAC's deposit service is free and part of LAC's mandate.

When a minister changes portfolios or retires, he or she may face difficult questions around what to do with records that have accumulated during his or her tenure in office. LAC's deposit service is a reflection of these imperatives, providing secure storage and preservation facilities to ensure the safety and provenance of records during transitory periods.

The records are stored in sealed, climate-controlled vaults to which only authorized staff have access. Thus, the security and secrecy of records are assured. The records remain the property of the Minister, who alone can authorize access to them, or remove them at will whenever and to wherever he or she wishes.

However, while LAC offers this deposit service to ensure the integrity and preservation of records, LAC does not normally or formally acquire Personal and Political Records, or Ministerial Records, immediately, but will typically acquire these records once a minister has been retired for a period of at least five years.

It is common for a minister to deposit material with LAC every time that he or she changes a portfolio, thus resulting in many different deposits with LAC over the course of his or her career. Once a minister has retired and made any final deposits of material, LAC examines the multiple deposits as a whole and considers the records for potential acquisition.

Formal Acquisition of Records by LAC:

LAC will not generally acquire a politician's records before at least five years after the end of his or her career. If a minister retires but continues to create records of potential national significance in his or her new position (i.e. in his or her role as a political activist, author, ambassador, etc.), LAC will often wait to seek to acquire any of the Minister's Personal and Political Records at the same time as any of his or her post-political records.

Once an appropriate period has passed, and LAC has examined and identified material of interest for formal acquisition with the permission of the Minister, LAC will then inquire if to know if the Minister is ready and willing to donate the material to LAC through a formal Deed of Gift.

Once a Deed of Gift is signed, the processing of the records begins. Once the processing is completed, appropriate access recommendations will be made by LAC and finalized in co-operation with the Minister, or his or her designate, to ensure that all of the Minister's access concerns are taken into consideration.

Appendix D: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What if a minister has different types of records (e.g. Government, Ministerial, Personal and Political) stored together in the same filing system?

  • Obtain advice from your departmental Information Management professionals on the proper handling of the different types of records in a minister's office; or
  • Contact LAC for support on Ministerial Records or Personal and Political Records.

What if you discover that Ministerial Records are being destroyed without proper authorization?

  • Seek more information about the motivation for destruction, as people may not be aware of the proper protocols for destroying records;
  • Remind people of the proper protocols and seek additional training and advice, as required; and
  • Remind them that LAC provides secure storage for these records, of which they remain the owner. Only they, or their designate, will have access.

What if a minister has a collection of political posters, hats, buttons and plaques in his or her office? Are these records?

  • These items could fall under the category of Personal and Political Records, or they could be considered personal objects, depending on their documentary content.
  • If and when the Minister is ready to part with such items, LAC can provide advice on whether they have historical value. Some of these could be incorporated into the national collection.

What if a decision was communicated to me by a voice mail or an instant message?

  • Document the decision in another format (e.g. Word document), remembering to include date and time details, and store it in the appropriate repository.
  • Once documented and saved, the voice mail or instant message can be deleted.

What if a decision was communicated to me by email?

  • Transfer the email message to the appropriate repository.
  • Do not leave the email in your inbox, where it is less secure and cannot be accessed by anyone else.

What if ministerial staff do not have access to a secure environment for storing Protected B or Secret documents?

  • Contact your departmental Information Management Director, who will be able to assist you in identifying and securing the proper systems and tools for saving Protected B and Secret documents.

What if a minister's office has duplicate copies of the same record?

  • Provide LAC with only one copy.
  • If multiple copies have been annotated by different senior members of the Minister's Office, provide LAC with a copy of each separately annotated copy.

    Note: If there are an especially large number of copies with different annotations, the expertise and judgement of the Minister's Office staff should be used in identifying and selecting those copies that best reflect the important factors in the decision-making process of the Minister.

What is a transitory record?

  • Transitory records are not of business value.
  • They may include records that serve solely as convenience copies of records held in a minister's office repository, but they do not include any records that are required to control, support or document the delivery of programs, to carry out operations, to make decisions, or to provide evidence to account for the activities of government at any time.
  • Examples of transitory records may be found in the Generic Application Guide for the Disposition Authorization for Transitory Records (DA 2016/001) issued by LAC.

What is the difference between the Authorization for the Disposition of Ministerial Records (ADMR) and the Multi-Institution Disposition Authorization: Institutional Records in the Office of a Minister (96/021) or an Institution Specific Disposition Authorization (ISDA)?

  • The Disposition Authorization for Ministerial Records only applies to Ministerial Records. Any other Disposition Authorization applies to Government Records.

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