The PAO aids the Minister in protecting, preserving, developing, studying, interpreting, and promoting an appreciation of the historic resources of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Historic resources are protected under the Historic Resources Act.
The PAO is the central repository for all archaeological records in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It houses site record forms submitted by archaeologists, reviews site reports submitted by archaeologists, and maintains up-to-date plots of site locations on 1:50,000 topographical maps and in GIS software.
The PAO maintains a computerized sites inventory database and GIS program, with associated library, for the use of academic researchers and the general public, both within the Province, and throughout the world.
The PAO receives all artifacts, documentation, and reports related to field projects carried out under permit through the Historic Resources Act, and checks the material for accuracy and completeness.
The PAO responds to archaeological emergencies that may arise, and is therefore responsible for the salvage of the threatened archaeological sites, and for mitigation at the site of the emergency.