State Electronic Records Initiative

CoSA launched the State Electronic Records Initiative (SERI) in 2011 to focus on improving management, preservation, and access to state and territorial government electronic records in all 56 states and territories.  SERI received major funding from two federal government agencies, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for parts of its SERI programming. CoSA's SERI Steering Committee manages and oversees the work of the initiative, working with volunteers from state and territorial archives throughout the nation.


State Archiving in the Digital Era: A Playbook for the Preservation of Electronic Records, October 2018

The Council of State Archivists (CoSA) and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) developed the following playbook for digital preservation of state electronic records. These national organizations and their members play a role in the development, management, reporting, preservation, and disposition of digital records. The following eleven plays should help both state Chief Information Officers (CIOs), state archivists, and other state leaders think about the best ways to preserve archives in this digital era.

Download the Playbook

A National Risk: The State of State Electronic Records Report, 2017

by Barbara Teague, CoSA SERI Consultant

This exhaustive report examines the breadth and impact of CoSA's State Electronic Records Initiative (SERI) from its inception in 2011, and considers future directions for this flagship program.

48 pages

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Download the full report Download the Executive Summary | Download Infographic


SERI Education and Training Options, 2017 - 2022 
This document outlines general education and training options for the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) State Electronic Records Initiative (SERI) for the next five years, and was approved at CoSA’s Annual Meeting in July 2017. It is one of the products of the Institute for Museum and Library Services Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian program grant for the provision of education and training on electronic records management and digital preservation to state archives staff.
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Implementing ACCESS: Guiding the Creation, Preservation, and Use of Electronic Records

The Council of State Archivists (CoSA) received a National Leadership for Libraries grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  The grant award is for $210,240, with grant programming slated to begin October 1, 2017.  The grant will allow CoSA to gather, develop, and share best practices and guidance materials to improve the creation, management, preservation, and use of permanent state government digital records and information. CoSA will collaborate with the National Governors Association (NGA), the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA), as well as content creators in state government and users of government data, to help improve preservation and use of permanent state government electronic records. 

SERI Tools and Resources Committee Publishes New Best Practice Guide: Managing Digitization Projects

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August 2017 -- The SERI Tools and Resources Subcommittee of the Council of State Archivists presents a three-part module on the best practices for managing digitization projects. The decision to digitize records and the choice of a method to do so are not as simple as putting an item on a scanner and pressing "go"; to be highly successful, this process requires thoughtful research, preparation, and studious project management.
This document is organized into three broad categories. Each category includes the strategies and best practices of highly successful digitization projects. Though the parameters for each project will differ greatly — budget and resources, source and amount of funding, type of material to be digitized, descriptive requirements, preservation activities — these best practices will produce a project management framework that is flexible enough to be applied to projects of all sizes and scopes.
Download this free guide!

Survey and Phase I Report

In 2011, each state and territorial archives and records management program completed a survey about its existing electronic records program, then participated in extended follow-up telephone interviews with CoSA's SERI Steering Committee members.  The data collected allowed CoSA to develop a composite nationwide profile of state archives' efforts to create, fund, and maintain state electronic records programs.  

SERI Phase I Report 

SERI Work Plan: Four Areas

Since completion of Phase One, CoSA has taken the data from the surveys and interviews and developed action plans around the findings. The SERI Committee's work is organized around four areas of concentration, each directed by a subcommittee: 1) education and training; 2) awareness of electronic records; 3) governance issues within states; and 4) best practices, tools, and implementation strategies.

  • Advocacy and Awareness Subcommittee
  • Best Practices and Tools Subcommittee
  • Education Subcommittee
  • Governance Subcommittee


Self-assessments completed by every state and territory in May-June 2012 and again in 2015 helped determine the current status of each state's electronic records and digital preservation program and identify where individual states should focus attention to continue to move forward. The Digital Preservation Capability Maturity Model (DPCMM), developed by Charles Dollar and Lori Ashley, provides a simplified framework for two ISO standards, the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model and Audit and Certification of Trustworthy Digital Repositories, using 15 basic components to evaluate digital preservation elements, and offering a progressive scoring system through each component.  The DPCMM is available on an ongoing basis to state and territorial archives for continued monitoring of progress toward more comprehensive electronic records programs. Grant funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) supported the development of the Self-Assessment tool.

Program for Electronic Records Training, Tools, and Standards (PERTTS)

The PERTTS project began January 1, 2013, and ran for two years with funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This project focused on two areas: (a) providing access to in-depth information about standards, best practices, and tools for the management and preservation of electronic records, and (b) delivering education and training to ensure that these standards, best practices, and tools are widely and effectively implemented.


Strategic Training and Education Program (STEP)

CoSA received an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant in 2012 to fund SERI’s Strategic Training and Education Program (STEP) for continuing education and training in electronic records and digital preservation for state archives staff.  The STEP program included three components:  scholarships to support attendance at webinars and conferences related to electronic records management and digital preservation issues; group training in weeklong, face-to-face electronic records institutes, with a curriculum specific to state archives; and the creation and presentation of webinars on digital preservation and electronic records topics. The grant was completed in 2017, with the final report forthcoming.

Archives Collaborating and Cooperating with External Strategic Stakeholders (ACCESS)

Archives Collaborating and Cooperating with External Strategic Stakeholders (ACCESS) began with a one-year planning project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and its National Leadership Grant program. The ACCESS project analyzed and assessed outreach and engagement methods to partners, stakeholders, and other organizations with an interest in digital government records and information. The ACCESS action plan provides a pathway for the next round of SERI programming.

ACCESS Action Plan


SERI Phase II Report

By the end of 2015, the SERI project had largely completed the second phase of its agenda, which included developing online resources for CoSA and others interested in electronic records preservation; creating and providing educational opportunities and training for state archives staff on electronic records management and digital preservation; increasing awareness of the requirements of preserving electronic records across the nation; and identifying potential partners, collaborators, and allies to aid with the long-term efforts of preserving and making accessible electronic records. This work was undertaken in Phase II of SERI, starting in 2012, thanks to the efforts of volunteers from State Archives participating in the SERI Steering Committee and its subcommittees. During this phase, the four original subcommittees were consolidated into three subcommittees:

  • Education & Programming Subcommittee
  • Tools & Resources Subcommittee
  • Advocacy & Communication Subcommittee

SERI Phase II Report

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