The New Zealand University System

GDA Development
History, Communication, and Beginnings
Pam Thorburn, Chair,
Public Records Act Working Party
A Bit of History - PRAW
• The Public Records Act Working Party convened
by New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee
first met February 2007
• Membership of PRAW was a cross-functional
group of university management staff including
library, student services, registry, information
technology etc
• There were no Records Managers employed at
a NZ university when PRAW started
• PRAW’s initial focus was to develop a GDA for
all 8 universities
What is a university?
Obviously a place of research and learning
In New Zealand there are 8 Universities
Collectively for all 8 institutions in 2007 there
staff – 24,000 (largest 5,700 – smallest 700)
students – 175,000 (largest 40,000 –
smallest 4,000)
What is a university?
• In essence to support each university
takes the infrastructure and services that
would equate to small to medium towns
• For instance in relation to infrastructure:
Infrastructure/ Services
To support the numbers of staff and students the university
generates records on….
• Student Accommodation and related services
• Lecture theatres and laboratories and related regulations
and services
• IT networks and computer suites
• Research spaces including private/public research
• Crèches and Marae Buildings and services
• Libraries and collection management
Infrastructure/ Services cont.
• Counselling and Health
• Corporate services-HR, Finance, Facilities Management,
Communications and Marketing, Student Recruitment
• Governance and Strategic planning
• Student and Academic Administration
• Student Unions and Associations
• Student Support services-Learning support, Career
• Special Collections including Art Collections and
• On-site business supplying food, books etc.
GDA Development
• SWIM Ltd were selected to develop the
GDA in partnership with NZVCC
• Archives NZ assisted by providing advice
as and when required.
• A Project was established to achieve this
outcome and a communication strategy
was developed as a key part of the
Project Management
• Project Sponsor - NZVCC
• Project Steering Group – PRAW
• Project Team was made up of
representatives from PRAW and SWIM
• Project Team reported to Steering Group,
who reported to the Sponsor.
Project Challenges…
• Universities covered by the PRA for the first time
and as seen infrastructure and services are
• There was a level of opposition to being covered
by the PRA
• Each of the 8 universities operates, and is
structured differently, to all the others for the
purposes of records management…
• Universities have devolved and complex
management structures, traditionally based on
collaborative and consensus decision making
Project Challenges cont.
• Records management capability within
universities was limited
• when the project to develop the GDA started:
one university had a records management team - and
this team had a vacancy for the Records Manager,
one had a consultant reviewing records management
one had a part time person reviewing historical
Project Challenges cont.
• Coverage of the PRA – the PRA excludes
the records associated with teaching and
learning and research and what this meant
needed clarification
• Definition of what a subsidiary was
…added complexity to the process...
• Most Universities have national and
international strategic partnerships
involving a variety of contract
Communications and Buy-in
• PRAW members had to obtain buy-in for
the development of the GDA from ViceChancellors and senior management
• Compliance only projects do not engage
or enthuse – difficult to get hard data on
the cost-benefits of RM
• Most universities set up an internal crossfunctional working group to oversee the
project at an institutional level
Project plan for
• PRAW members were the champions and
first point of contact
• Workshops and one-on-one interviews
with senior staff were conducted by SWIM
• Important that the strategy was flexible –
but the message was the same
• Suggested wording prepared for university
intranet sites, and communications to staff
Project Team Communications
Met regularly, meetings had to be useful
Built trust
No surprises!
No secrets (e.g. discussed openly how to
manage known “challenging people”-the
• Risk and issues had to be identified and
• All members were wearing multiple hats! (e.g.
representing PRAW, a university and a
functional area)
Workshops and interviews
• Each university was visited for 2 days by the
consultants for workshops and interviews
• PRAW members arranged the workshops,
introduced sessions and attended most of them
– this meant they had to have a good
understanding of the whole university but it built
internal ownership.
• SWIM consultants ran the workshops,
conducted the interviews and provided the base
documentation for the GDA
Workshops and interviews cont.
• Participants were from all aspects of the
university system – administration and
academic (cross-functional)
• In addition to the workshops influential
individuals were identified at each
university and interviewed separately
about the GDA by the consultants
Consultation process
• The process for review of the GDA was very
much one of continued consultation and
• A draft of the GDA was handed out at workshops
and interviews, and participants were
encouraged to share it with colleagues
• Participants commented on the draft directly to
SWIM consultants (normally on the area they
worked in)
Consultation process cont.
• Second versions of draft was sent to all
workshop participants – who were (again)
encouraged to share it….
• External key stakeholders were notified
and invited to participate, and were
notified when the GDA was released for
public comment by Archives NZ
Approval process
• Sign off internally (by all universities)
• PRAW members approved the final
version of the GDA
• Following review by Archives NZ staff,
they met with SWIM representatives and
the project team overseeing the GDA
development project to clarify the final few
• Normal Archives NZ process followed
The Positives
• The GDA was developed and approved, nearly
within budget (the increase in the budget was
due to the number of comments made on the
draft GDA by university staff!)
• A closer relationship was developed with
Archives NZ
– Archives NZ were kept informed throughout the
process, but where not included formally
• Archives NZ staff were called upon early in the process for
clarification on a number of issues (e.g. definitions around
research, teaching and learning, and what exactly is a
The Positives cont.
• Increased awareness of records
• Beginning of a willingness to implement
records management principles
• Within 8 months of approval of the GDA
there were 7 appointments of records
managers at universities
• The GDA is being implemented!
• Universities are at the start of the journey
and all are at various stages of
• There has been to date one record type
that was given an unworkable retention
period –and a small number of minor
changes have been identified
• PRAW continues as an NZVCC group to
support implementation.
Implementation cont.
• The current terms of reference for PRAW
is to facilitate collaborative projects,
providing cost benefits to all 8 universities
• To provide advice to Vice-Chancellors’
Committee on strategic and operational
• It remains a cross functional group and
records management expertise has now
been included
And that is Another Story
Thank you for your time

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