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Information Management - Information Matters

Disposition of Electronic Records in Non-Y2K Compliant Systems: Frequently-Asked Questions

How will the National Archives handle the disposition of electronic records in non-Y2K compliant systems?

Staff of the Government Archives and Records Disposition Division are analysing the information provided by institutions to determine what disposition action -- such as the need for a Records Disposition Submission, or revisions to the Terms and Conditions of Transfer for an existing Records Disposition Authority -- is appropriate. It is our intention to integrate this work into existing Multi-Year Disposition Plans. Where a current MYDP is not already in place, a Plan will be negotiated. The National Archives is committed to ensuring that institutions do not have to shoulder a heavy disposition burden, particularly as they concentrate on solving the Y2K problem for operational systems.

It is also important to note that if a system has already been found to be non-archival according to an existing Records Disposition Authority, including Multi-Institutional Disposition Authorities (such as the recently-issued MIDAs for Common Administrative Records and the General Records Disposal Schedules), no further authorization is required.

What if records in a non-compliant system have been migrated to a compliant system?

If all records in a non-compliant system have been migrated to a Y2K-compliant system, records in the old system can be destroyed without the authority of the National Archives. If the records in the original -- and now non-Y2K compliant -- system have already been identified as being of archival value in an agreement to a Records Disposition Authority, the National Archives Information Systems Analyst responsible for your institution should be provided with information on the migration by your staff. This is necessary in case the terms and conditions for the transfer of the records need to be revised due to the migration.

My institution has identified systems that are being abandoned. What information do we have to provide to the National Archives?

First, make sure that the systems are not already authorized for destruction and that they don't contain records already migrated to a compliant system; if destruction can take place without further authorization from the National Archives, you don't need to provide the National Archives with any information. Otherwise, you should compile the following information:

  • complete title of the system, including common acronyms, if applicable;
  • identification of the program area responsible for the administration of the system, as well as the appropriate division/branch/directorate/institution;
  • name and phone number of technical contact;
  • a brief description of the system's purpose;
  • if applicable, a brief description of any sub-systems, their purpose and relationship to the main system or other sub-systems;
  • links to textual or other media records, normally through identifying file numbers or by some other means;
  • the number of the Records Disposition Authority covering the system, if in place.

Please do not hesitate to seek advice from the National Archives Information Systems Analyst responsible for your institution when compiling this information.

What can my institution do to preserve access to records in non-compliant systems until we can dispose of them through authorized destruction or transfer to the National Archives?

The National Archives has prepared a set of guidelines to ensure that the electronic records in databases and their contextual information and systems documentation are safeguarded until disposition can take place. Guidelines for the Safeguarding of Electronic Records in Non-Y2K Compliant Systems in Accordance with the National Archives of Canada Act were sent to your institution at the same time as this document.

Where can I get more information on record-keeping issues and Y2K?

The Information Management Forum is preparing a guidance document covering Y2K record-keeping issues. A consultation draft is available on the IM Forum's website at For more information, please contact Bob Provick of the National Archives's Office of Government Records at 947-1511.