The Australian Federal Police has been told to end its reliance on network drives for storing digital operational records after more than 90 percent of records were found to be kept on such boxes.
An audit [pdf] of the agency’s use of statutory powers, released yesterday, reveals “serious deficiencies” with digital record keeping, in part due to a lack of a central repository.
While not the focus of the report, the issues – which “complicated” the audit – were seen as “sufficiently important to be reported upon”.
“The AFP’s poor digital recordkeeping is a risk to the integrity of its operations,” the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) said.
The report found “three different systems” were primarily used by the AFP to store 705TB of records and data, with network – or shared – drives the most heavily utilised.
The main drive, known as the ‘S drive’, contains around 680TB – or 96.4 percent of the 705TB of data spread across the three systems.
The use of network drives, however, is at odds with advice from the National Archives of Australia, which does not consider them acceptable for the storage of official records.
It recommends agencies use an electronic document and records management system (EDRMS) instead, citing benefits like “greater security and access control over sensitive information”.
While the AFP commenced a project to introduce an EDRMS in 2014-15, the project never moved forward and the agency is still without such a system.
Another reason for the dependency on network drives is that “some officers ‘do not like [the] PROMIS [case management system]’ and ‘do not use it to its full extent’."
“The ANAO’s fieldwork found that many officers preferred to use network drives to store digital records relating to warrants,” it said, adding that only around 5TB of data is stored in PROMIS.
The AFP has been trying to replace PROMIS – which was introduced in 1997 – since 2007, but cancelled its first attempt and booted Elbit Systems in 2013.
In April 2018, it revived the project, approaching the market for a “scalable and robust” information management system (IMS) to support its investigation activities for the next 10-15 years.
But the IMS is expected to “supersede the investigations management functionality" of [PROMIS], rather than replace it altogether.
“A decision was made not to migrate the records currently in PROMIS into the IMS and "only new investigations will be managed using the IMS," the audit states.
“As with PROMIS, its use will not be mandatory. To that extent, the IMS will become a fourth record keeping system.”
The ANAO also noted that there was an “absence of clear, mandatory and unequivocal direction to officers as to where they must store… information”, leading to sprawl.
The ANAO has recommended the AFP introduce an EDRMS to ensure records are “secure and readily accessible” and “cease its reliance on network drives”, which it has agreed to.
In response, the AFP said it is “developing a digital transition roadmap which includes an initiative to market-test suitable digital records management capabilities”
“This work will identity potential solutions and enable the AFP to modernise, strengthen and streamline records management.”