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Managing Long-Term Digital Archives Through Information Governance (IG)


Both government and industry archives are now managed primarily through computerized technologies, but, at least within the public sector, the actual implementation of those technologies tends to be underfunded, and access to public information is often not available to those who most need it. To address these issues, the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) developed a 15-point set of guidelines to help these organizations improve their ability to implement and manage state archives. 


These guidelines incorporate many critical IG best practices including establishing clear policies and procedures, promoting legal compliance through retention schedule use, creating a formal governance framework and team, and addressing core cybersecurity issues. 


Here they are:

Establish a digital preservation policy that addresses the purpose, scope, accountability, and operational approach for why you need a trustworthy digital repository.


Address technology obsolescence risks with periodic renewal plans for storage devices and preferred preservation formats.


Establish a formal governance framework assigning responsibilities for electronic records preservation.


Ensure compliance with laws, regulations, and records retention schedules in the governance framework.


Emphasize collaboration among stakeholders for digital preservation in line with standards and best practices.


Manage interdependencies between government units, legal requirements, and technology policies.


Access professional technical expertise for sustainable digital preservation programs.


Prioritize open standard technology-neutral file formats for long-term accessibility.


Engage with all necessary stakeholders (including clients/the public, vendors, customers, etc.) and maintain formal agreements for records preservation.


Estimate the volume and scope of electronic records that you need to input into the system to promote effective planning and management.


Implement ISO 14721 workflows for ingesting, transforming, and storing electronic records.


Utilize systematic storage services per ISO 14721 for preserving digital records integrity and accessibility.


Monitor and renew storage devices and media periodically to ensure readability and longevity.


Maintain record integrity through cryptographic hash algorithms and integrity fixity actions.


Document preservation actions with metadata, audit trails, and secure storage for authenticity and accessibility.


Effective digital preservation requires adopting a robust information governance framework, proactively managing technology risks and following industry standards like ISO 14721. An IG-based system that prioritizes collaboration, technical expertise, and sustainable practices allows both public and private sector organizations to ensure the long-term accessibility and integrity of their electronic records.


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