Agency under fire for decision not to save federal Web content
National Archives and Records Administration halts its archiving of agency sites every two years
Computerworld - The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is coming under fire for discontinuing its policy of taking a "digital snapshot" of all federal agency and congressional public Web sites at the end of congressional and presidential terms.
NARA, which until this year had collected a "harvests" of federal Web sites at the end of presidential and congressional terms, said in a recent memo that it would discontinue the practice at the end of George W. Bush's presidency.
A spokeswoman for NARA Friday asserted that the content is already saved by each agency as permanent records.
"One day in time does not really tell the story of a federal agency," the spokeswoman said. "We decided that the snapshot itself didn't really have any value added to it. The evolution of a Web site over four years does tell the story of an executive agency, what their priorities were, what their initiatives were."
The spokeswoman compared the preservation efforts of individual agencies to "a documentary film" and the snapshot to a "still photograph."
Coby Logen, a blogger at DotGovWatch, noted that although NARA has contended that nongovernmental organizations can take snapshots of the Web sites, depending on a nonprofit to perform national archiving is risky.
"The last executive branch Web harvest that NARA conducted preserved 75 million Web pages, many which will be valuable records for historians in the coming decades," Logen said. "Not capturing federal Web sites now many mean losing millions of Web pages authored under the Bush administration when leadership changes in January 2009."
John Wonderlich, a blogger at the Sunlight Foundation, argued that NARA should continue supporting the Web Harvest program. The Sunlight Foundation supports and develops new Internet technologies to make information about the federal government available.
"Our national government has a responsibility to protect and document its history," Wonderlich added. "They are uniquely positioned to do so; no one else has both the reliable public mandate and the public accountability necessary for protecting historical documents.
"The fact that digital preservation is done by others outside NARA isn't an excuse for NARA to abdicate their responsibility, but an argument that they should be capable of fulfilling it," he said. "As members of Congress and federal agencies increasingly move their work online, robust digital archiving will only become more important, so we can understand how our government is performing its duties."
Read more about Government IT in Computerworld's Government IT Topic Center.
This state transportation department uses computer science students from a local university as programming interns, and everyone is happy with the arrangement -- until one intern learns how to bring down the mainframe.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
- This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- The New Business Case for Video Conferencing: 7 Real-World Benefits Beyond Cost-Savings
- This whitepaper provides insight into the value of video conferencing in today's business environment, and how organizations are using visual collaboration to find...
- Gartner Magic Quadrant for Client Management Tools
- The client management tool market is maturing and evolving to adapt to consumerization, desktop virtualization, and an ongoing need to improve efficiency.
- Audit Ready and Asset Optimized: The Solid Promise of an Intelligent Software Asset Management Solution
- In this paper Frost & Sullivan examines the benefits of enterprise-grade Software Asset Management solutions, and how these solutions serve as the convergence...
- Pragmatic Endpoint Management: Empowering an SMB Workforce in the Age of Mobility
- Lacking the time for proper training and education, SMB administrators often resort to taking shortcuts to keep their environment running.This paper discusses the... All Government IT White Papers
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Mobile Security: Containerizing Enterprise Data In this on-demand webinar, Fixmo's Lee Cocking, VP of corporate strategy, explains why Apple-ization trends like mobility and "bring-your-own-device" (BYOD) are driving the...
- Endpoint Data Management: Protecting the Perimeter of the Internet of Things Not surprisingly, "Internet of Things" (IoT) and Big Data present new challenges AND opportunities for enterprise IT. Teams need to harness, secure and...
- How to Protect Enterprise Data Yet Enable Secure Access for End Users Learn how BYOD, Big Data and the use of rogue applications and devices is putting corporate data at risk, best practices from IT...
- All Government IT Webcasts