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2022 DPCMM: GPO Interview Part 1

By Michelle Gallinger posted 11-09-2021 04:57 PM


CoSA is grateful for our friends at the Government Publishing Office (GPO) sharing with us their work on standards and accreditation in this two part interview. 

The Government Publishing Office (GPO) opened its doors on March 4, 1861, the same day President Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated. Since then, the agency has been Keeping America Informed on the three branches of the Federal Government and making Government information available to the public for free in both print and electronic formats. GPO produces U.S. passports, official White House programs and dinner menus, official materials for the President’s inauguration, the President’s official photo, the Federal budget, the Congressional Record, Federal Register, and much more. 

PTAB, the Primary Trustworthy Digital Repository Authorization Body Ltd., audited GPO’s govinfo repository, the one-stop site to authentic information published by the Federal Government. The audit took place in two stages. Govinfo's certification as a standards-compliant digital archive provides assurances to the American people that it is a resource for authentic, trustworthy information published by the U.S. government. In December 2018, GPO made history by becoming the first organization in the United States and second organization in the world to achieve certification as a trustworthy digital repository.


  • What inspired GPO to seek certification under ISO 16363? Why did you decide to make the most robust certification in the world your organizational goal? 

ISO 16363 certification is the only current method of repository certification that is performed under internationally recognized and accredited procedures, ensuring total transparency and removal of auditor bias. As a Federal institution, it is particularly essential to our stakeholder communities that our certification process is as robust as possible and that the integrity of the audit process is of the highest established credibility. 


  • Certification was a strategic goal for GPO since 2015. Tell us about the work that went into developing organizational focus for certification as a strategic goal? 

GPO has been interested in trustworthy digital repository assessment since the inception of its digital repository system, as early as 2009. At the time, the repository (formerly referred to as GPO’s Federal Digital System or FDsys) was designed from beginning-to-end based upon ISO 14721: Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS). GPO waited until 2015 to officially announce its commitment to pursue formal ISO 16363:2012 certification; a year after the process for accrediting auditors to perform such audits and grant certifications was established under ISO 16919:2014. In 2015, GPO initiated preparation for ISO 16363 certification while participating in the National Digital Stewardship Residency (NDSR) Program, hosted by Library of Congress and IMLS. Through this program, GPO attained a resident to perform the process of collecting and/or preparing all of the necessary documentation and internal-readiness assessments. This included looking at organizational infrastructure, digital object management, and security/risk infrastructure. Because the organizational infrastructure for govinfo spans multiple GPO organizational units, much of the work of the resident was to ensure that policies and procedures were explicit about activities across the units. The internal assessment included organizing narrative responses and collecting all relevant documents and evidence to support each of the 109 criteria of the ISO standard. In 2016, GPO developed and released a Request for Information (RFI). The purpose of the RFI was to elicit information and to better understand the auditing processes and certification opportunities for govinfo under ISO 16363:2012 accredited certification organizations and to identify organizations that could perform the audit. Next, GPO released a Request for Proposal (RFP).  The purpose of the RFP was to select an accredited certification organization to conduct the external audit of GPO. GPO then awarded the opportunity to perform the ISO 16363 audit to Primary Trustworthy Digital Repository Authorization Body Ltd. (PTAB) -   

  • GPO is committed to standards-based digital preservation best practices.  What are the benefits to records producers and consumers of this commitment? 

GPO recognizes the differentiation between online access and long-term, trustworthy digital preservation. Our commitment to ISO 16363 ensures that all of our stakeholder communities understand that our content is not only available online, but that our repository is managed and operated with international standards to ensure it is available in the event of major disasters, changes in technology, and other risks long-term. This includes a commitment to ensure that content information is able to be rendered and understood well into the future, through the following objectives:

  • Administration of repository architecture in compliance to the OAIS Functional Model (ISO 14721:2012)
  • PREMIS, MODS, and METS metadata persisted within archival packages
  • Active monitoring of file formats
  • Preservation of at least two archival copies of all information content in two separate geographic locations
  • Weekly backups of content over a redundant array of independent disk storage systems
  • Secondary standby disaster recovery instance
  • Virus-scanning of all submitted content
  • File fixity checking
  • Secure systems certification


  • Why does GPO consider govinfo a key technology? How does it support the GPO goals and strategies?

 GPO has statutory responsibility for producing Government information products and for disseminating government information to the public on behalf of all three branches of the Federal Government, per Title 44 of the United States Code. Federal content creators submit content to be preserved and made accessible to the public and stakeholders. GPO's preservation repository follows archival system standards to ensure long-term preservation of and access to digital content. Because of this, GPO’s commitment to digital preservation best practices and standards must always remain an agency-level strategic priority.

The second part of the interview can be found here: