Information Management Act
The Information Management Act (IMA) came into force on May 10, 2016, and replaced the Document Disposal Act as government’s primary information management law. The IMA modernizes and streamlines government information management by:
- Transitioning government to digital storage and information management
- Establishing the digital archives and requiring information to be archived in digital form, unless exceptions apply
- Establishing a Chief Records Officer to approve information schedules, manage the digital archives and promote effective information management
The IMA applies to all ministries, to courts in a limited way and to designated public sector organizations. The IMA provides a legislative framework for modern, digital information practices, which, over time, will improve access to information, reduce costs for taxpayers and enable timelier services to citizens.
The IMA is being implemented over multiple phases. The first phase is now in effect and formalizes existing information management practices, including:
- Approval Processes for information schedules
- Responsibilities for heads of public sector organizations
Future phases will require government ministries and designated public sector organizations to:
- Store information digitally
- Transfer information to the digital archives
An information schedule specifies how long certain information must be retained and when it will be disposed of, transferred or archived.
The IMA requires ministries and designated public sector organizations to hold, transfer, archive and dispose of information in accordance with an information schedule. Information schedules must be approved and published by the Chief Records Officer, unless they are court information schedules.
Existing records schedules previously approved under the Document Disposal Act will continue to apply under the IMA. Ministries and public sector organizations in need of new or updated information schedules can contact their records officer or records contact.
In a future phase, the IMA will require ministries and designated public sector organizations to store information digitally. Before implementation, consultations with stakeholders will take place to determine the types of information that will be exempt from digitization requirements. The Chief Records Officer will then provide specific requirements and introduce a process for reasonable exemptions.
When this requirement is implemented, it will only apply to information created or received after the implementation date.
The IMA requires government ministries and designated public sector organizations to transfer information of archival value to the digital archives. However, the digital archives are not yet operational. Digital information scheduled for archiving must be held until the digital archives are operational. Non-digital information that is ready to be archived is currently exempt from digitization requirements and can be transferred to the museum archives at the Royal BC Museum.
The IMA formalizes a number of responsibilities for the heads of public sector organizations, including:
- Ensuring that an appropriate information management system is in place to manage and secure government information
- Responding to requests for information from the Chief Records Officer regarding the management of government information
- Ensuring that government information held by their organizations is only disposed of according to an information schedule or with the approval of the Chief Records Officer
In addition, the IMA requires heads of public sector organizations to ensure compliance with:
- Directives issued by the Chief Records Officer
- Requirements to digitize information (once those requirements come into effect)
- Requirements to hold, transfer, archive and dispose of government information in accordance with information schedules
The IMA requires ministries and designated public sector organizations to have an appropriate system in place for managing, storing and securing information. The heads of public sector organizations are responsible for ensuring steps have been taken to meet this requirement. The Chief Records Officer may provide further clarity through policy and direction.
An appropriate system includes more than technology and must address policies, processes, roles, responsibilities and controls to ensure information is properly managed throughout its lifecycle.