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2022 DPCMM: Organization Infrastructure Questions

By Michelle Gallinger posted 11-22-2021 08:47 AM

by Veronica Martzahl and Lori Ashley

CoSA’s Digital Preservation Capability Self-Assessment survey is a high-level framework of requirements from ISO 14721 and ISO 16363, two standards embraced by the U.S. Government Publishing Office and discussed in earlier posts.  The next five blog posts in this BACKER series will explore how specific components in the CoSA DPC survey relate to the systematic assessment of a digital preservation program and repository. We will use categories from ISO 16363, audit and certification of trustworthy digital repositories, to frame the key issues and help CoSA members prepare for a positive and useful experience with the January 2022 survey.

The three main categories in ISO 16363 are: Organizational Infrastructure, Digital Object Management, and Infrastructure and Security Risk Management.  Because establishment, management and sustainability of a trusted digital repository requires people, processes, and technologies at every step, there are overlapping and interdependent requirements to consider.  This week we will focus on three subcategories of Organization Infrastructure and map their criteria and metrics to the first eight (8) DPC survey questions and response statements.

A Note about the Survey

A short demographic section at the start of the 2022 survey will collect essential data about the institution you represent, parent organization, jurisdiction, and permanent electronic government record collections. Because the survey has been customized to reflect CoSA’s membership, the generic term ‘Archives/RM unit’ is used throughout the response statements.  The target collections in the survey are permanent electronic government records. And the term ‘digital repository’ refers to the organization with a mission of stewardship for long-term digital objects, the technical functionality to manage them, and the policies and procedures to sustain capabilities over time. 

Organizational Infrastructure: Governance and Organizational Viability

The criteria and metrics in this subsection probe the level of commitment to digital preservation and the relationship between the institutional mission and the organization’s preservation strategies and goals. 

Digital preservation infrastructure components of the DPC Self-Assessment that explore these topics include:

  1. Digital preservation policy – policy in writing and published to all stakeholders
  2. Digital preservation strategy – approaches to mitigate technology obsolescence through transformation 
  3. Governance – a framework of accountability and authority for preservation of permanent government records

While a great deal of progress in protecting fragile digital materials can be accomplished through projects and individuals leading preservation activities, institutional support and governance for digital preservation planning and implementation is essential for a robust, conforming, and sustainable digital archival system.  


Organizational Infrastructure: Organizational Structure and Staffing

The criteria and metrics in this subsection assess whether the institution has the skills and staffing resources to support a digital preservation program and repository operational management.  

Digital preservation infrastructure components of the DPC Self-Assessment that explore these topics include: 

  1. Digital preservation strategy –advisory with records producing units
  2. Governance – known roles and responsibilities for all digital preservation stakeholders 

4.Collaborative Engagement – systematic and robust interfaces and engagement between the Archives/RM unit and internal and external stakeholders

  1. Technical Expertise – access to internal or external expertise in electronic records management and digital preservation technologies and practices

While technology is an essential component of digital preservation capability, it takes vision, determination, authority, and archival know-how of managers and hands-on professionals to establish and sustain a digital repository as well as provide on-going expertise and support to a wide range of stakeholders.

Organizational Infrastructure: Procedural Accountability and Preservation Policy Framework

The criteria and metrics in this subsection relate to documented policies and procedures to track changes, measure information integrity, anticipate technology changes and adapt approaches, and engage effectively with its community of records producers and consumers. 

Digital preservation infrastructure components of the DPC Self-Assessment that explore these topics include:

  1. Digital Preservation Policy – written and published policy on the purpose, scope, accountability and approach to the operation and sustainability of digital repositories
  2. Digital Preservation Strategy – plans and means to renew storage devices, storage media, and adoption of preservation file formats
  3. Governance – executed in conjunction with information management and technology functions and enables compliance with laws, regulations and records retention and disposition authorities
  4. Designated Community – written procedures and agreements with producer and user communities that are regularly reviewed and updated
  5. Electronic Records Survey – the Archive/RM unit’s knowledge about inbound permanent electronic government records

A digital repository is a living system that must monitor changing conditions and adapt practices and technologies in order to fulfill its mission of protecting and providing access to long-term and permanent digital objects. Given the scale and scope of permanent electronic state/territory government records, a robust but flexible framework is required to align and synch all the moving parts and players.

In next week’s blog, we will look at the two remaining subcategories of Organizational Infrastructure.

A Note about Post-Survey Activities

As CoSA moves forward with the IMLS BACKER grant to support archives in creating and updating their digital preservation procedures and policies, the outcomes and learnings from the 2022 DPC Self-Assessment survey will help us determine templates to create, guidelines to produce, and how to move forward effectively. Even in states/territories without digital preservation programs, these templates and the incremental capability steps described in the survey can help management and staff seek and successfully tackle preservation project opportunities in ways that will support the eventual creation of an institutionally supported preservation program.

Who? What? Why? Where? How? When? Image credit: Michelle Gallinger