Designated Community


The government unit charged with ensuring preservation and access to permanent legal, fiscal, operational, and historical electronic records should issue its digital preservation policy in writing including the purpose, scope, accountability, and approach to the operational management and sustainability of trustworthy digital repositories.

There is no written documentation that defines the rights, obligations, and responsibilities of government records producing units or user communities for permanent electronic records held by the Archives’ digital repository.

Move Up to Level 1:

While digital preservation is a specialized information management and technology domain, there is a great deal of existing documentation in your state/territory about government records producers and users. Since government records are increasingly born-digital or transformed into digital surrogates for management and re-use, it is imperative that additional guidance and agreements be created to address their unique needs.

Look to other public sector institutions for examples of how broad and specific electronic records requirements have been identified and linked to existing government records management authorities, instruments, and access rights.

The Archives/RM unit has informal, ad hoc agreements with selected government records producing units that support the transfer of permanent electronic records to the digital repository. The Archives/RM unit periodically analyzes access and use statistics for its digital repositories to identify and address user needs and requirements.

Move Up to Level 2:

The Archives/RM unit may be managing collections of digital surrogates of its own analog assets to support preservation and user access needs. Every jurisdiction has certain agencies or units that are forward-thinking about managing their government records so the Archives/RM unit may also have accepted the transfer of some permanent electronic records. If the Archives/RM unit has successfully accessioned and processed electronic records, guidance documents on good practices should be made readily available to agencies. Over time formal agreements for electronic records transfer will help agencies to prepare and the Archive to plan for digital preservation.

The Archives/RM unit should analyze its transfer, access, and usage statistics to develop a robust profile of its designated communities (producers and consumers). Metadata associated with digital objects should reflect what the Archives/RM unit understands will assist users in their search and discovery activities. The shift to greater online access provides opportunities to enhance these profiles with details about systems of record, portals, web browsers, rendering formats, download capabilities and legal requirements.

The Archives/RM unit has established formal, written agreements that support the transfer of permanent electronic records from selected government records producing units. The Archives/RM unit proactively reaches out to selected designated communities to identify their needs and requirements for access to electronic records in the digital repository.

Move Up to Level 3:

Use the experience in setting up formal transfer plans and agreements to develop a template that is widely distributed to agency and IT staff. Whenever possible include the transfer plan at the time of system procurement and configuration. Include a section in records transfer plans for agencies to identify current and future users of any materials being transferred to the Archive.

Inclusivity and cultural competency initiatives currently underway in many archives and other public institutions may provide useful information and connections to communities of users who have an interest in collections of government records. Use a template to gather and manage the information about consumers of archival collections and establish responsibilities for periodic updates.

The Archives/RM unit works with most records producing units in the state/territory to establish formal written agreements about their rights, obligations, and responsibilities for transferring permanent electronic records to the digital repository. The Archives/RM unit works closely with most designated communities to establish appropriate dissemination and access profiles to meet their needs and requirements.

Move Up to Level 4:

The Archives/RM unit has achieved significant visibility into upstream systems and practices which should be used for preservation and access planning as well as to develop business plans to meet future demands. If the Archives/RM unit has identified any gaps in state/territory laws, regulations, or practices related to responsibilities and management of permanent government records, they should engage with legislative experts and policymakers.

The Archives/RM unit actively engages with all state/territory records producing units to establish formal written agreements about their rights, obligations, and responsibilities for transferring permanent electronic records to the digital repository. The Archives/RM unit takes into account changing research needs and access capabilities of designated communities.

Sustain Level 4:

The Archives’ digital preservation repository must sustain its understanding of the requirements of its designated communities and its capability to enable discovery and identification of material of interest. Minimum descriptive information must be created or captured to support discovery and be associated with the digital objects stored in the repository.


Appraisal, transfer, processing, and preservation of electronic records introduces complexity and places increased demands on the interdependencies and shared resources of records producing and records managing 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.