Tag Archives: Modernização da Administração Pública

Recommendations for the production of Digital Preservation Plans (part 2)

By Luis Corujo, from Portugal, Archivist at the General Head Office of Archives (DGARQ), Portugal.

(Portuguese version available by clicking “Keep reading” ; Versão Portuguesa disponível em “Keep reading”)

Before the implementation of any strategy to preserve their DOs, it is necessary to take into account the best practices for document management and the contributions of the entire agency workforce related to the prodution of information.

Due to this, the development of a Digital Preservation Plan is divided into three main stages, namely:

1) Organizational Appraisal, in terms of the:

  1. Organizations Intermediate System (hardware and software used);
  2. Rules and standards by which the institution is governed and must comply;
  3. Administrative practices of the organization;
  4. Business and Document  Management System of the institution;

2) Identification of the requirements of the electronic record documents and information available in the electronic information system of the organization. These include only those that are produced in the institution, considered as institutional ownership, have a retention period of more than 5 / 7 years, according to the disposal and retention schedule, and are of recognized (vital) importance to the organization.

3) Planning the strategy of preservation, which includes:

  1. Definition of preservation strategies, which should take into account:
  • The characteristics of the DOs, in term of appearance, content, structure and behaviour.
  • The technical characteristics of electronic record documents and information systems, as the context, the storage medium, inter-relationships between different records, files, and metadata;
  • The characteristics of the process of preservation, related to usability, scalability and complexity;
  • The costs, which have a high importance on the choice of preservation solutions, and can be divided into technical and personnel costs.
  1. Definition of formats for preservation, before the creation of the digital object to be preserved, in order to avoid additional costs in its conversion to the final format. The use of standard formats and applications with open specifications ensures a continuity of use and support when compared with proprietary formats and applications.
  2. Choice of software, where, due to the choices defined in the Plan of Digital Preservation is necessary to adapt, change or replace the software. It is advisable to use, where possible, software with open specifications, non-proprietary and well documented, and should allow to execute all the necessary operations defined within the Digital Preservation Plan, be robust, easy to use and include an intuitive interface.
  3. Choice of storage solutions, you should consider the costs and available infrastructure support. This choice has to be designed for long term use, where an option that can prove to be less accurate, may require a shift of the entire plan devised.
  4. Definition of metadata (MI), which allows better management of DOs, intermediate systems, users and the features available. It is advisable to use different MI schemas, to be used in various layers, such as Descriptive MI, Structural MI, Preservation MI, Technical MI …

Before the implementation of the Digital Preservation Plan, the workforce of the agency should test the technical procedures. These tests must be performed on duplicates of electronic record documents and the relevant electronic information systems. The integrity, functionality, structure, content and metadata associated with the preserved digital information, should be periodically monitored after the implementation of the preservation strategy, to ensure its stability and to identify schedules for subsequent applications of preservation measures. Must be taken into account and specify the elements, such as human resources, calendar, etc.., which will be part of the monitoring effort of the entire Plan of Digital Preservation project implementation (manage, implement, test, evaluate, redesign , etc.).

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Recommendations for the production of Digital Preservation Plans (part 1)

By Luis Corujo, from Portugal, Archivist at the General Head Office of Archives (DGARQ), Portugal.

(Portuguese version available by clicking “Keep reading” ; Versão Portuguesa disponível em “Keep reading”)

The General Head Office of Archives (DGARQ), being the coordinator of the archival and records policy in Portugal, has since 2006, defined digital preservation as a strategic priority for action. This concern stems from the problems of digital material related to the short to medium term obsolescence, the loss of evidence value, and even the loss of information, and that ultimately have an effect on all the information that must be stored for more than 7 / 10 years, being it information for permanent keeping or disposal. In practice, these problems affect all organizations producing digital information, if not all organizations!

This is in fact a difficult problem to address in Public Administration (PA), which, because of the determinations from the Electronic Government initiative, must base their activities in electronic business processes, to facilitate those same business processes, ensuring a faster, complete and transparent service to citizens. This means that public institutions are producing larger amounts of electronic information, in many cases without any specific preservation operations due to the estimated obsolescence horizon of 7 / 10 years. The absence of any commercial software for this purpose has further aggravated this situation, since the initiative and responsibility for safeguarding the electronic information belongs to the producing organizations.

Against this background, the DGARQ has developed resources, processes and tools in order to address the need to preserve electronic information produced by AP, and that their continued preservation is regarded as necessary. Being said, there have been devised three lines of action, which includes the construction of a digital national archive – RODA – that allows the integration, management and dissemination of digital objects produced by the AP, counselling and technical support about the electronic document management and digital preservation, and, finally, the preparation of technical documents. The publication of the document Recommendations for the Production of Digital Preservation Plans (PDF in Portuguese) is part of this last line of action, being a technical document that aims to help public institutions to understand, manage and develop tools that allow for preservation of their digital objects. As the name indicates, it is a set of recommendations, a guide to developing a plan for digital preservation, not an attempt to provide an instant ready-to-use solution. It is the organization that must define its strategy, formalizing all procedures and their timing to preserve digital information in a document that will be the Plan of Digital Preservation of the institution. The Digital Preservation Plan is, therefore, a strategic document which contains policies and procedures geared towards the creation of a technical and organizational structure that will allow the continuous preservation of the electronic information through actions on digital objects (DOs) that are part of it. The Digital Preservation Plan should therefore be the result of a collaborative effort between the organizational units of the institution such as archival/record management and IT.

(Part 2 available soon)

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The Innovation and Strategic Projects Office (DSIPE) from the General Head Office of Archives (DGARQ) as a key element to the Administrative Modernization of the Public Services in Portugal (part 1)

By Luis Corujo, from Portugal, Archivist at the General Head Office of Archives (DGARQ), Portugal.

(Portuguese version available by clicking “Read More” ; Versão Portuguesa disponível em “Read More”)

The current General Law of the General Head Office of Archives (DGARQ) gives to the Innovation and Strategic Projects Office (DSIPE) responsibilities in the development of studies and projects on electronic government which may contribute to the preservation of the digital archive heritage. Such responsibilities include the development of standards, technical guidance and the participation in international projects in the fields of management and preservation of digital records and archives, and also the support of the conception, development and implementation of electronic archiving systems for institutional producers and keepers of records and archives, essential to the Public Administration modernization described by the SIMPLEX and the Portuguese Technological Plan. DSIPE is also responsible for developing a national plan for document digitalization, supporting the research, publication and diffusion related to the safekeeping and improvement of archival and photographic heritage. To accomplish this mission, DSIPE has to supervise and support projects for the conception, development and implementation of digitalization projects of Portuguese archival and photographic heritage, and coordinate the management of web resources, to improve the access to the national archival heritage and provide more services to the users.

To achieve such purpose, DSIPE, under the aegis of DGARQ, is in the process of planning and developing several projects, in particular: the implementation, up keeping, control and maintenance of the National Archival Authorities File (FNAA), the National Digitalization Plan (PND), the Real Conference in Virtual Environment (CRAV), and, under the scope of the Digital Preservation, the management of the Repository of Authentic Digital Objects (RODA), and of the recommendations for the production of Digital Preservation Plans.

    • The purpose of FNAA is to open access, in standardized and autonomous form, to descriptors of legal entities, either individuals or families, as producers, owners, or in any other way related to the records and archival documents. Associating this information to the documents’ description will allow a better understanding of the context production, an easier retrieval of information and documents and the virtual listing of all documents scattered throughout different entities, even if such documents were produced by the specific functions and activities of one or more entities throughout time. This function may be especially useful in the case of structural changes inside the public services, being the Central Government Administration restructuring program (PRACE) one recent example. The FNAA will be a reference tool to the public service, allowing the recovery of information in the archival documentation and in the administrative records. This tool should also be made available for citizens, under the requirements of accountability, transparency, simplification and modernization of the public service, and to promote a more informed citizenship. The partnerships promoting the development of FNAA will contribute to the creation of a network of Portuguese Archives, assist in the development of an integrated approach to records/archives (in contrast with the traditional division between “administrative records”, “records” and “archives”), support the integration of new documentation media to answer the new needs and challenges faced by the record and archives management, and, finally, develop record and archival systems through the implementation of better practices and improvements on information-shared work. To accomplish this objective, DGARQ has developed a technical document with the operating rules of FNAA and the functional requirements for its development. This project will be associated to the documentation on Interoperability Metadata (MIP), produced by DGARQ with the purpose of advising the General Office of the Council of Ministers’ Presidency.
    • The PND was created under a framework of international and national EU policies concerning the digitalization, online accessibility and preservation of digital content, the employment of new information technologies, and the strengthening of European cooperation in the field of records and archives. Therefore, under the Portuguese Technological Plan and of the National Strategic Reference Framework (QREN), the organizations with archival heritage – archives, libraries, documentation centres, museums and other private organizations – are responsible for ensuring that their services and products are electronically available and remotely accessible.
    • The PND is a three years initiative, coordinated by a team led by DGARQ in collaboration with the Portuguese National Library (BNP), and composed by members of institutions of the Ministry of Culture. Its aim is to involve these organizations in the identification and exchange of experiences, the understanding of the projects’ impact at national level, the consideration of the difficulties ahead and the identification of core necessities of individual users and organizations. To promote the digitalization and its national accessibility, efforts will be made to diversify and streamline the digitalization practices, maximize the efficiency of investments in digitalization projects and provide the professionals with expertise in digitalization and preservation. This process will also imply the creation of a plan for the long-term preservation which advances the treatment of documents for digitalization. This cooperation in the creation, distribution and preservation of digitalized content and/or original digital content, under a strategy of sustainable development, can facilitate the access to the cultural heritage, through the articulation and integration of measures that ease user access to various archival fonds and collections.

      (Part 2 available soon)

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