Digital Preservation Capability Level Up Roadmap


This resource is a companion to the CoSA Digital Preservation Capability (DPC) Self-Assessment and is intended to offer guidance on how to move to increasingly more robust and systematic preservation capabilities for permanent electronic government records. The self-assessment survey and this roadmap tool are based on the Digital Preservation Capability Maturity Model (DPCMM). CoSA customized its survey and administered it to members in 2012, 2015, and 2022 to assess the requirements of state and territory archival institutions to plan for, implement, and sustain preservation services and technical infrastructure for permanent electronic government records.

In the survey and this roadmap resource the state/territory archival institution referred to as “Archives/RM unit.” It is one organization, but not necessarily the only one in each state/territory, that has responsibility for preservation of and access to permanent government records, regardless of format or media.

And while the focus of the survey is preservation of permanent electronic government records, it is worth noting that the core capabilities expressed in DPCMM apply equally to long-term and permanent digital collections of manuscripts, newspapers, historical, and other non-government materials retained by archival institutions, as well as long-term and permanent electronic government records managed by agencies, central IT units, and third parties.


The 15 digital preservation capability components in the DPCMM are grouped into two (2) categories: Infrastructure and Services. Each component includes the definition from the 2022 DPC survey and a set of progressively mature capabilities. Suggestions on how to reach the next maturity level are provided for each component. While the steps are self-explanatory, the people-process-technology capabilities required for efficient, effective electronic records preservation get increasingly interrelated above the Nominal Level so some suggestions may seem to advance in unforeseen directions.

The Glossary from the 2022 DPC Self-Assessment survey is available to reference as you use the Level Up Roadmap. An overview and analysis of the latest results is available in the 2022 Self-Assessment Survey Report.

Because the CoSA DPC self-assessment survey and Level Up Roadmap are based on the DPCMM, it assumes institutions seeking to establish trusted digital repositories for permanent electronic records will conform their operations to the specifications of ISO 14721 and ISO 16363, the de facto standards for the global digital preservation community. The terms “digital repository” and “Digital Archive” used in this resource are assumed to conform to ISO 14721.


Each government archival institution must determine its digital preservation goals and action plans based on its unique mission, mandates, and resources. The DPCMM is not a one size fits all tool. It demonstrates that digital preservation is not just a technical challenge, but also must involve establishing policy and strategies, planning, governance, and maintaining collaborative relationships over time between records creators, records custodians, and users.

Digital preservation is never “complete” or “finished.” As technology and recordkeeping requirements change, it is vital to proactively update and adapt your institution’s capabilities to preserve and provide access to electronic government records and other digital assets for your designated communities. Good luck!