Technical Expertise


A critical component in a sustainable digital preservation program is access to professional technical expertise that can proactively address business requirements as well as respond to impacts of evolving technologies. The technical infrastructure and key functions of an ISO 14721 conforming digital repository requires professional expertise in archival storage, digital preservation solutions, and lifecycle electronic records management processes and controls. This technical expertise may exist within the Archives/Records Management unit, be provided by a centralized function or service bureau, or by external service providers and should include an in-depth understanding of critical digital preservation actions and their associated recommended practices.

The Archives/RM unit has little or no operational access to specialized professional technical expertise in digital preservation or electronic records management.

Move Up to Level 1:

Engage with internal or external technical staff that currently support government electronic records initiatives. Consider profiling a current reformatting project to identify file format and migration issues.

Research electronic records analyst and digital archivist position descriptions and roles in peer institutions to learn what skills and expertise is needed to manage collections of permanent electronic records. Attend training sessions offered by professional associations and digital preservation coalitions.

The Archives/RM unit has operational access to technical expertise (internal or external) that only supports project-based digital preservation initiatives.

Move Up to Level 2:

IT expertise and a robust technical infrastructure are required to establish and sustain trustworthy digital preservation repositories. The Archives/RM unit must determine the human resources needed to fulfill its electronic government records preservation mandates and then proactively advocate for governance, training, and sustained funding to expand its pool of technical resources for accessioning and managing digital collections. These resources may be Archives/RM unit staff, IT staff offered professional development opportunities in digital archives and electronic records management, or new recruits who join public service with practical skills and knowledge in the field.

The Archives/RM unit has operational access to technical expertise (internal or external) in electronic records management software. The Archives /RM unit has operational access to technical expertise (internal or external) that only supports non-conforming ISO 14721 Submission Information Packages (SIPs) and Archival Information Packages (AIPs).

Move Up to Level 3:

Technical requirements and archival processes required to execute preservation actions on electronic records are well established and practiced worldwide. When there are sufficient human resources and funding in the Archives/RM unit to engage with agencies on their management and transfer of permanent electronic records and/or support the establishment of a trustworthy digital repository, develop minimal standards for submission (SIP) and archival information packages (AIP).

The Archives /RM unit has operational access to technical expertise (internal or external) that supports conforming ISO 14721 Submission Information Packages (SIP) and Archival Information Packages (AIPs).

Move Up to Level 4:

Congratulations! You have reached an important milestone in your Archives/RM unit’s capability and capacity to preserve permanent electronic records. Update standards and guidelines on electronic records transfer/submissions and for managing digital collections in the Archive. Provide continuing professional development opportunities for staff.

Seek data on the volume and characteristics (file formats, metadata, export options, etc.) of permanent electronic records that will eventually be transferred to the Archives’ digital repository. Use this information to develop business plans, staffing plans, and budgets to present to funding authorities in your state/territory.

The Archives /RM unit has operational access to technical expertise that supports all functions of an ISO 14721 conforming digital repository, including long-term preservation planning.

Sustain Level 4:

Trustworthy digital repositories of permanent electronic government records require a robust infrastructure of people, processes, and workflow technologies to be sustained.


A digital repository is a living system that must be able to monitor changing conditions and adapt 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, dedicated infrastructure and flexible frameworks are required to align and sync all the moving parts and players.

A sustainable digital preservation program needs to be supported by people with the right skills and knowledge or access to such knowledge. Work with external partners, train existing staff, and/or hire new staff with specialized skills.

Consider how expertise or technical infrastructure can be “outsourced” to supplement the work of your Archives/RM unit staff and IT peers. Commercial and open-source digital preservation systems and tools are available which generate checksums, integrate workflows, access portals, characterize files against format registries, perform virus/integrity checks and many other operations. Cloud storage and services are widely accepted in the public sector and can provide cost and service level agreement alternatives to enterprise backup and archiving services.