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Federal Agencies in Need of Electronic Preservation

December 22, 2008

Feds’ Lack of Preserving Digital Records Reaching Urgent Stage, December 17, 2008

Several articles have surfaced lately about businesses that are struggling to preserve digital records. As detrimental as that may be, this article takes it one step further and calls out the government for its inability to do just the same. As the amount of electronic data continues to grow, the space in which the government has to store it is subsequently shrinking.

With that said, a recent report issued by a task force suggests the need for a revised, economical model that government agencies can use to preserve electronic data. According to Fran Berman, director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center and professor of high-performance computing at the University of California-San Diego, most of the preservation money comes from one-time grants that pay for programs but don’t specify how that data can be preserved in the future.

“While storage and technological issues have been at the forefront of the discussion on digital information, relatively little focus has been on the economic aspect of preserving vast amounts of digital data fundamental to the modern world,” said Lucy Nowell, program director for the office of cyber infrastructure at the National Science Foundation, in an e-mailed statement.

So what must be done to help clear the air and establish some guidelines? According to Berman, government entities need to work together and create a new approach for data preservation. Rather than working independently and developing their own solutions, a team effort will be more beneficial to everyone and will ensure proper records management processes for years to come.

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