National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future



September to December

In September, the Assessment Team held a general surgery to update public authority stakeholders on planned work over the coming months and reflect on the Conference Series events in the summer.

Following the publication of the M365 Guidance from the Keeper of the Records of Scotland’s PRSA Assessment Team and a successful special surgery focussing on the implementation of Microsoft 365 as a records management solution in 2021, we revisited the subject for a further online event in October. We were joined by speakers from the Information and Records Management Society (IRMS), The National Archives (TNA), Perth and Kinross Council, and VisitScotland. 

The Assessment Team invite feedback after all the events we hold and seek suggestions for future surgery topics. The subject of promoting and raising the profile of records management within authorities was one of the suggestions made in 2021, so in November we held a special surgery on Advocacy. We were joined by speakers from the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, NHS Forth Valley, Boeing, the Information and Records Society (IRMS) and records management consultants from For Your Information. 

Scottish Council on Archives (SCA) – Twenty Treasures

We were pleased to learn that Letters Patent to the Public Records (Scotland) Bill 2011 was selected as one of twenty items of national or local significance with an interesting story to tell as part of the Scottish Council on Archives’ 20th anniversary celebration. SCA invited archive services and organisations from across Scotland to nominate a special item from their collection, with a panel selecting twenty for inclusion. You can read more about this and listen to a podcast featuring Hugh Hagan (Head of Public Records Act Implementation) talking about the importance of the legislation on the SCA website.


Microsoft 365 Guidance

With many of Scotland’s public authorities considering the adoption of Microsoft in the Cloud (M365) as their principal records and information management solution, the Assessment Team developed guidance to help authorities understand some of the issues associated with implementing M365. It is hoped that by having regard to this guidance authorities can develop solutions to these issues and, in so doing, ensure they remain compliant with expectations under the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011 (the Act).

The guidance does not seek to offer answers to all the issues highlighted. Rather, it suggests questions that an authority (the public authority named in the Act) implementing M365 might ask, and maps these to the relevant elements in the Keeper’s Model Records Management Plan. For further information please check the guidance.

PRSA Online Conference Series             

As we were unable to host our usual in-person conference this year, we held a series of online events which addressed four specific topics of relevance to the implementation of the PRSA. These took place one each week in June and focussed on topics raised by our stakeholders: Element 15, Duty to Document, Archiving, and Line-of-Business Systems. A summary of each is given below.

Public records created or held by third parties (Element 15) 
A panel featuring Hugh Hagan, Head of Public Records Act Implementation at NRS, Heather Jack, Information and Records Management Consultant, and Joanne Wishart, Research Assistant at Aberdeen City Council, discussed the challenges of managing records created or held by third parties and the importance of this vital aspect of PRSA. We were also joined by Michael Butler, Data Protection & Information Protection Officer at West Dunbartonshire Council, who shared his recent experiences of managing the return of public records after the closure of residential schools. 

Duty to Document
This session focussed on the recent and ongoing debate around Duty to Record/Document. We were joined by Maxine Reid, Head of Knowledge & Information Shared Services at the Scottish Government; Henry Sullivan, Information Asset Manager at Edinburgh City Council; and Natali Higgins, Information Governance Manager (Corporate Records) at NHS Ayrshire & Arran. 

Archiving (Element 7)
Digital archiving, which remains in its infancy in the Scottish public sector, was the focus of this session. It also covered other aspects of compliance under this element, including securing archiving agreements, and web archiving. We were joined by a panel featuring Neil Miller, Head of Government Records Section at NRS; Garth Stewart, Head of Digital Records Unit at NRS; Lynn Bruce, Web Archivist at NRS; and Craig Geddes, Senior Information and Improvement Officer at East Renfrewshire Council. 

Line-of-Business Systems
This session addressed line-of-business systems (information systems that sit outside the main records management provisions in public authorities). It encouraged discussion about how stakeholders currently understand and manage their public records in these systems and how they should be addressed by records management plans, so that the Keeper can be confident that the public records created/held and managed in them are robustly protected and controlled. We were joined by Joe Bartoletti, Records Manager at Police Scotland, and Tigan Daspan, Information and Records Manager at Food Standards Scotland.

A facilitated discussion and question and answer session followed the speakers at each of the four events.

The Conference Series raised lots of interesting points and generated valuable dialogue. It has given the Assessment Team plenty to think about and our work over the coming months will be shaped by several of the outcomes from these events. 

January to May 2022

Work continued in the first half of the year assessing the accumulation of plans which arose as a result of reduced staff numbers and the impact of Covid-19. Engagement with stakeholders, both individual meetings and surgeries, continued to be conducted online. The Assessment Team regularly met with authorities via MS Teams, and continued to provide support as they prepared and worked through the submission and assessment process, and engaged with the PUR mechanism. We also introduced ourselves and the Act to new authorities and colleagues. In the spring the Team held two online surgeries: one for newcomers in March, and a general surgery in April, both of which allowed us to update our public authority colleagues on our plans for the year. At the newcomers’ surgery, we were joined by a colleague from NHS Forth Valley who shared her experiences of engaging with PRSA, in particular the Progress Update Review (PUR) mechanism

In May, colleagues participated in and attended, in-person, the Information and Records Management Society (IRMS) Conference in Glasgow. Gillian Mapstone, (Head of Records and Archive Engagement) also received an award, Author of the Year, for an article she wrote for the IRMS Bulletin, ‘The Impact of the COVID-19 Health Crisis on Recordkeeping in the Scottish Public Sector.’ The article reflected on work carried out in 2020.