Digital Preservation Framework Released for Public Comment

Today NARA is releasing the entirety of our digital preservation framework for public comment. This digital preservation framework consists of our approach to determining risks faced by electronic files, and our plans for preserving different types of file formats. The public is encouraged to join the discussion, September 16 through November 1, 2019, on GitHub.

Photograph of World’s First Computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator. National Archives Identifier 594262

The National Archives 2018–2022 Strategic Plan embraces a vision that ensures ongoing access to extraordinary volumes of government informa­tion to bring greater meaning to the American experience. Digital preservation is critical to this work, as evidenced by the June 2019 direction (M-19-21, Transition to Electronic Records) to Federal agencies to transition business processes and record keeping to a fully electronic environment and to end the National Archives’ acceptance of paper records by December 31, 2022.

We’re in the process of shifting the entire government off of paper and to all electronic record-keeping, and we play a major role in helping the agencies get to that point. Our new strategic plan is the roadmap; by putting records management and digital preservation at the forefront of our priorities, we will help drive greater efficiency and effectiveness while making the Federal government more responsive to the American people. 

Our digital preservation subject matter experts, led by Director of Digital Preservation Leslie Johnston, have been hard at work to prepare the National Archives for this change. They have formalized a set of documents that describe how we identify risks to digital files and prioritize them for action, and created specific plans for the preservation of these many file formats.

The release of the digital preservation framework allows NARA staff, our agency stakeholders, the public, and experts in the archival and preservation fields to weigh in and assist us in creating the standard for digital preservation in the Federal government. We are also ensuring that our process for identifying and mitigating risk in the electronic records that we preserve and make accessible is as transparent as possible.

The documents are available at:  https://github.com/usnationalarchives/digital-preservation

Please use the Issues feature to leave comments or questions, or to start a discussion. The matrix and plans will be open for comment until November 1, 2019. After that time, National Archives staff will take all the feedback and update the matrix and plans, incorporating the comments. Then final versions will be publicly released, and updated on an ongoing basis in response to changing risks and new technologies and formats.

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