Services to government

Duties of a Certifying Officer

What is a Certifying Officer?

  • A Certifying Officer is an individual appointed under the National Archives Act, 1986, Regulations, 1988 3(1) to oversee the implementation of the National Archives Act, 1986 and Regulations, 1988 within their Department of State.
  • At least one Certifying Officer must be appointed in each department or court office in accordance with Regulation 3(1).
  • A Certifying Officer must be at least Principal Officer, or equivalent, grade.
  • In exceptional circumstances, an officer of less than Principal Officer, or equivalent, grade may, with the consent of the Taoiseach, be appointed as a Certifying Officer in accordance with Regulation 3(1)(b).
What are their responsibilities?
Transfer
  • The Certifying Officer is responsible for ensuring their department or court office prepares records for transfer to the National Archives in accordance with the National Archives Act, 1986 8.
  • This includes ensuring records over 30 years old are arranged, numbered, cleaned, labelled and packaged appropriately in archival boxes. They are also responsible for arranging their carriage to the National Archives premises.
  • Certifying Officers are responsible for signing certificates for the transfer and release of records in accordance with the National Archives Act, 1986 8(2), Regulations 1988 5.
Retention/Withholding
  • Certifying Officers are responsible for signing certificates for the retention or withholding of records in their department or court office in accordance with the National Archives Act, 1986 8(2) and 8(4), Regulations 1988 7 and 8.
  • Certificates made under section 8(2), relating to records still in regular use in a department or court office, must be sent with a schedule of the records, or record series, to the Consenting Officer in the Department of the Taoiseach and to the Director of the National Archives as required by Regulation 7(2).
  • Certificates made under section 8(4), relating to the withholding of records on the grounds specified in the Act, must be sent with a schedule of the records, or record series, to the Consenting Officer of the Department of the Taoiseach for consideration and action in accordance with Regulation 7(1).
  • A certificate under section 8(4) cannot take effect without the approval of the Consenting Officer of the Department of the Taoiseach. If the Consenting Officer is not satisfied that the retention and/or withholding of a record or series of records is justified, the record will have to be transferred to the National Archives and made available for public inspection.
  • Certificates issued under sections 8(2) and 8(4) must be reviewed by the Certifying Officer every 5 years in accordance with section 8(6).
Disposal
  • Certifying Officers are responsible for applications for disposal certificates in accordance with the National Archives Act, 1986 7(4), Regulations 1988 6 for records that have been deemed to have no long-term value that warrant their retention as archives.

The disposal of any records without a Certificate for the Disposal of Departmental Records signed by the Director of the National Archives constitutes a breach of the National Archives Act, 1986.

How is a Certifying Officer appointed?
  • A Certifying Officer is appointed by the Secretary General of the Department of State concerned.
  • Department of State is defined in the National Archives Act, 1986 1(2), and is interpreted to mean not only the head office of a Department and its sub-offices, but also the courts and the bodies listed in the schedule to the Act. The term, therefore, refers to almost all bodies staffed by civil servants, including the Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána.
  • A letter on official headed paper must be signed by the Secretary General and sent to the Director of the National Archives with details of the name of the individual, their grade and contact details.
  • A template letter to appoint a Certifying Officer is available here.

Applications for retention, withholding and disposal should be made on the forms available in the appendices to the National Archives Act, 1986, Regulations, 1988.

A sample Certificate to Transfer records is available at Appendix 3 of the National Archives Act, 1986, Regulations 1988.

The National Archives should be notified of any changes in personnel and contact details of Certifying Officers. The position of Certifying Officer does not automatically transfer with any change in personnel. 

A Certifying Officer is an individual appointed under the National Archives Act, 1986, Regulations, 1988 3(1) to oversee the implementation of the National Archives Act, 1986 and Regulations, 1988 within their Department of State.