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Direction to report

Direction to report is issued by the Chief Archivist. It is issued when concerns are raised about an organisation’s recordkeeping practices. When this occurs, a notice is given in writing for an organisation report back on the issue specified. This only applies to a public office

Direction to report an estray record

A written direction may be issued to an individual in possession of a record that is outside of the control of the Chief Archivist or the public sector organisation that created the record. The PRA defines these records as estrays.

The Chief Archivist may also specify a timeframe for inspection of an estray record. In addition, the Chief Archivist may direct an individual to:

  • manage the estray record under any standards or instruction issued by the Chief Archivist,

  • make the estray record available for public access or for copying,

  • or transfer the estray record to the control of the Chief Archivist within the time specified in the notice,

  • or transfer the estray record to the control the controlling public office within the time specified in the notice,

  • an estray record that is protected may be transferred to the control of the Chief Archivist or the controlling local authority.

If a written direction is received by an individual, they must comply with this by law.


The Chief Archivist may, after giving notice to a public office or local authority, inspect:

  • public records,

  • local authority records, and

  • local authority archives, as specified

This is done if information management issues have been raised by, or in conjunction with, an audit. These powers may be used for public offices and local authorities.


An audit programme is regularly carried out on Public Offices. This is to determine the health of information management in the public sector. Audits are commissioned by the Chief Archivist using independent auditors.

The audit is part of the Monitoring framework.

Find out more about the Audit of public office recordkeeping.

Offences and penalties

It is an offence under the PRA to wilfully or negligently damage, dispose of, or destroy any public record, unless it is authorised under by the Chief Archivist.

Penalties can be imposed on individuals or organisation who fail to comply with requirements of the PRA. Persons who are convicted of an offence may also be trespassed from our offices and services.