By Lori Ashley
CoSA’s Digital Preservation Capability Self-Assessment survey is a high-level framework of requirements from ISO 14721 and ISO 16363. This is the second in a series of five (5) blog posts in the BACKER series to explore how specific components in the CoSA DPC survey relate to the systematic assessment of a digital preservation program and repository. The first post can be found here.
We are using 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. This week we will focus on the last two 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
The focus of the 2022 CoSA DPC Self-Assessment survey is on digital preservation capability (people-policies/processes-technology) as it pertains to permanent electronic government records. This includes born-digital or digitized records of state or territorial government as well as local government records. It may include legislative, judicial and executive branch records as well as audio-visual records.
Though not explicitly addressed in the survey questions, the need for digital preservation capabilities to mitigate technology obsolescence is equally applicable to the preservation of and access to permanent non-government digital collections, as well as long-term (10+year retention) and indefinite electronic government records retention. For this reason, the DPC self-assessment survey could be applied to electronic Record Center holdings as well as records held by agencies or in centrally managed enterprise information systems.
CoSA members represent Joint Archives and Records Management (JARM) programs (46 of 56) and Separate Archives (AO) and Records Management (RMO) programs. As noted in last week’s blog, the term ‘Archives/RM unit’ is used in the survey to refer to the respondent’s institution. Preservation capabilities for long-term, indefinite and permanent electronic records held by non-archival governmental units (central IT, agencies/departments, third parties) are also critical to state and territory government operations and accountability.
Organizational Infrastructure: Financial Viability
The criteria and metrics in this subsection assess short and long-term planning processes to support the sustainability of the repository over time as well as use of standardized accounting and financial management methods and reporting. Risks, benefits, investments, and expenditures related to the repository should be routinely analyzed and reported.
Funding is not explicitly addressed in the Digital Preservation Capability Maturity Model (DPCMM) because it was developed to be a general, broadly applicable benchmarking tool that could be used by practitioners in any industry for any type of digital collection or technology to support their business case for digital preservation resources and capabilities. The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access studied and reported in 2010 on economic models for public sector repositories but it continues to be a field of evolving models and metrics.
The “lack of sufficient funding to fully address an expanding array of program responsibilities” is a well-documented and continuing challenge for state archives.
Fortunately for the CoSA community 22 of the 47 respondents in the 2020 State of the State report indicated they have “an OAIS-compliant” system” in place so a great deal is already known and could be shared about how digital repositories in state government are initially funded, processing and storage growth rates, and the professional resources needed to sustain the repository and its digital collections through time and administrations.
Digital preservation infrastructure components of the DPC Self-Assessment that relate to financial viability include:
- Digital Preservation Policy –published policy on the approach to the operation and sustainability of digital repositories
- Digital Preservation Strategy – plans and means to renew storage devices, storage media, as well as rendering and transformation technologies
- Governance – executed in conjunction with information management and technology functions
- Electronic Records Survey –a projected volume and scope of electronic records that will come into its custody to plan and execute repository operations
As reported in the Budget section of The State of State Records, 2021 edition, “General budget appropriations continue to finance the bulk of state archives and records management programs.” Over half of the respondents reported using federal and other grant sources. Nine JARM and AO programs reported funds ear-marked for digital preservation in FY2020 and one RMO program received funds for electronic records management.
Organizational Infrastructure: Contracts, Licenses & Liabilities
The criteria and metrics in this subsection assess whether the institution routinely analyzes risks to its data, systems, physical plant, and personnel and has controls and response plans in place to ensure that repository operations are not interrupted, and data is not lost or corrupted. It also addresses contracts, deposit agreements, acceptance policies, as well as rights/permission management.
Digital preservation infrastructure components of the DPC Self-Assessment that touch on these topics include:
- Governance – exercised with other custodians and digital preservation stakeholders such as records producing units
- Technical Expertise – technical expertise provided by a centralized function or service bureau or by external service providers
- Designated Community – documented content, rights, and conditions under which the repository will ingest, preserve, and provide access to electronic records
- Electronic Records Survey – the Archive/RM unit uses information about electronic records in the custody of record producing units to systematically manage transfer and ingest
Appraising materials and managing rights and permissions associated with acquisitions and donations is a core function of the archival practice. Professional, ethical, and legal considerations relating to privacy, confidentiality, copyright, freedom of information, equality of access, and security are routinely documented and factored into preservation actions and access limits.
Appraisal, transfer, processing, and preservation of electronic records introduces complexity and places increased demands on the interdependencies and interoperability between and among the operations of record producing and record management units of government. Approaches, success factors and the Data Collection Template (Appendix D) in CoSA’s 2021 report, MoVE-IT: Modeling Viable Electronic Information Transfers, are useful guides for archives, producer agencies and IT support staff “to promote more effective and efficient processes for digital preservation.”
In next week’s blog, we will look at the third ISO 16363 category – Infrastructure and Security Risk Management, before diving into the most technical section of the standard’s requirements.
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.
Image credit: Jørgen Stamp, CC BY 2.5 DK <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/dk/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons