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Multi-Institutional Disposition Authorities (MIDA)

1.3 Library and Archives of Canada
Downsizing Government and the Disposition of Records

Action Plan
4 June 1996

1.  Goal

To ensure the orderly disposition of records by government institutions facing downsizing (especially where this involves major programme reduction, complete abandonment of a function, or transfer of the programme to another jurisdiction).

2.  Legislative Framework - Library and Archives of Canada Act

2.1  Subsection 12(1) No government or ministerial record, whether or not it is surplus property of a government institution, shall be disposed of, including by being destroyed, without the written consent of the Librarian and Archivist or of a person to whom the Librarian and Archivist has, in writing, delegated the power to give such consents.

Note: Disposition of records includes alienation from the control of the government.

2.2  Subsection 13(1) 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 that may be made between the Librarian and Archivist and the government institution or person responsible for the records.

2.3  Subsection 13(4) Except as otherwise directed by the Governor in Council, the Librarian and Archivist shall have the care and control of all records of a government institution whose functions have ceased.

3.  Accountability Framework

In all situations of alienation, it is the government institution devolving the programme that determines the federal government's long-term operational and legal needs for records. This includes providing appropriate access and security safeguards for, and the protection of personal information in, any alienated records and the rights of former federal employees in personnel records. The Authority of the Librarian and Archivist to alienate the records from the control of the Government of Canada does not imply that the Librarian and Archivist certifies that such federal operational and legal requirements have been addressed or can be met if the records are alienated.

4.  Need for Records Disposition Authorities when Downsizing

Government records are disposed of in accordance with Records Disposition Authorities granted by the Librarian and Archivist or through agreements for the direct transfer, to Library and Archives Canada (LAC), of records deemed to have archival value.

If a Records Disposition Authority (the Authority) has previously been granted to destroy or dispose of all of the records, the records can be alienated from the control of the Government of Canada without further involvement by Library and Archives Canada (LAC). That previous Authority must cover all records for a particular function or programme, including active and inactive records, headquarters/regional/field-office records and records on all media types, e.g., electronic records, audiovisual records.

If all or a portion of the records have been appraised as archival in the previous Authority, however, a separate, new Authority may be required; refer to the following Action Plan.

If the records have not been appraised for their archival value and thus are not covered by an Authority, a separate, new Authority is required before destruction or alienation can occur.

Subsection 13(4) of the Library and Archives of Canada Act applies in cases where an entire government institution ceases its functions, and no other federal institution has been authorized to handle the residual or wrap-up activities of the abolished institution.

5.  Action Plan

5.1  Defunct Institutions and Programmes: i.e., an entire function ceases to exist.

If another federal institution shares, continues or has been assigned accountability for all or part of the abolished programme/function, the records should be transferred to that institution. Disposition of the records will be conducted within the framework of the normal records disposition programme between that institution and Library and Archives Canada.

Example: The home insulation programme of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (CCA) was abolished, as was CCA itself, yet protection of consumers remains a federal function in the Department of Industry. Therefore, records of the defunct CCA programme were transferred to Industry Canada until their legal value expires. With an Authority in place, the records can then be destroyed or, if appraised to have archival value, transferred to LAC.

If no law, order in council, memorandum of understanding, or exchange of letters exists authorizing an institution to assume the residual functions or outstanding legal responsibilities of a defunct institution, the records (whether they have archival value or not) pass to the care and control of the Librarian and Archivist and should therefore be transferred to LAC.

Example: The Economic Council of Canada and the Department of Urban Affairs were both abolished, and no federal institutions continued their functions in any significant way. Therefore, invoking Subsection 6(3), their records passed to the control of the Librarian and Archivist.

5.2  Mergers: i.e., complete programmes and their records are subsumed or joined with some other programme(s) or function(s).

No special "downsizing" Authority is required and affected records will be disposed via the normal records disposition process.

If the existing organization of the records or the records themselves are threatened by this type of initiative (e.g., inherited file series are to be broken up into other registries or transferred inactive electronic records are left dormant on a shelf), direct transfer procedures may need to be immediately applied (i.e., transfer of dormant electronic records from the inheriting institution to the NA, or in case of paper or other records that are to be distributed into the successor agency's own information systems, LAC will provide advice on how to document the former organization and nature of the inherited records before they are so distributed).

5.3  Streamlining: i.e., programmes are reduced in scope or size but continue to exist, e.g., there are fewer regional or local offices, fewer board or commission members, fewer activities, or lower budgets.

No special "downsizing" Authority is required and affected records will be disposed via the normal records disposition process.

5.4  Uncertain or Partial Alienation: i.e., programmes are being assigned to some special entity, e.g., "government-owned, company-operated" or "not-for-profit government-controlled monopoly," but some continuing reporting or funding relationship with the federal government will exist.

The key issue in these situations is "control of the record", i.e., does the new entity hold control of the records or does the federal institution through which the new entity may continue to report or by which it may continue to be regulated? The parent or senior institution and its legal counsel must define the nature of its "control" relationship with the new entity.

If the new entity assumes control of the records, see Section 5.5, Alienated Records.

If a government institution subject to the Library and Archives of Canada Act retains or assumes control of the records, use procedures outlined in 5.2, Mergers.

5.5  Alienated Records: i.e., records are being removed from the jurisdiction and control of the Government of Canada.

If the Librarian and Archivist has already consented to the destruction or disposal of all the records involved, they may be alienated without further recourse to Library and Archives Canada by the present record-holding federal institution. The Authority used, however, must cover all records for the affected function or programme, including active and inactive records, headquarters, regional or field-office records, and records on all media types, e.g., electronic records, audio-visual records.

If all or some of the records proposed for alienation have been determined to have archival value in an existing Authority, or if no archival appraisal has been done at all, then the records must be appraised before alienation occurs, and a new Authority will be required.

*Existing Disposition Authorities should be reviewed because they may be outdated; cover the records of one class of office only, (e.g., headquarters, regional, or field offices); or they may not cover records on media other than paper.

In conducting its appraisal of records, LAC will endeavour to define "archival value" as narrowly as is possible, thereby allowing the transfer of as many records as possible to the new jurisdiction without encumbrance.

If records identified as having archival value are needed by the new jurisdiction to carry on the business activity involved, two options can be considered:

  • the records could be copied; or
  • the records could be loaned to the new entity.

Creating a copy of records for the use of the new entity should be done at the expense of the new entity or that of the transferring government institution. The new entity should be provided with the copies, originals should be retained by the alienating institution and disposed of within the context of normal records disposition activities.

If the records are to be loaned, the transferring government institution and the new entity must enter into an Agreement that contains explicit terms and conditions to the effect that the records are to be returned to the alienating institution after a negotiated but specific number of years, and that any loaned record is not to be altered or added to in any way, but is to be returned in the same condition as when it left federal custody. If the alienation initiative must be accomplished within a time frame that would preclude the possibility of conducting an archival appraisal prior to the transfer of records, the option to loan records could be employed in advance of an archival appraisal provided that the alienating institution prepares and submits a Records Disposition Submission covering the affected records to LAC before the loan agreement is implemented.

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