Government information maintained by state archives is a unique national asset, serving as an important resource for documenting rights and capturing the national experience. As part of its initiative to create a National Partnership for Digital Government, the NHPRC seeks to support state archives in preserving and providing access to their government electronic record holdings.
The Commission’s new approach will focus on projects that accession, describe, preserve, and provide access to state government electronic records of enduring value. The NHPRC will support projects that actively engage in activities that preserve electronic record assets and make them available for public discovery.
The Commission encourages collaborative projects that bring together multiple parties to plan for and carry out project goals and outcomes. The NHPRC strongly encourages applicants to leverage the resources resulting from the Council of State Archivists’ State Electronic Records Initiative (SERI) to inform their work.
The Commission expects to make up to 3 grants in this program, for a total of up to $600,000. Grants begin no earlier than TO BE DETERMINED (TBD).
Please note: if your institution is seeking support to process and preserve electronic records of national significance, but it is not a state archives, please review the Commission’s Access to Historical Records grant announcement.
Application deadlines: DRAFT TBD; FINAL TBD
Please read the attached State Government Electronic Records draft grant announcement [PDF]. We welcome your comments here on the NHPRC blog – please supply any comments by March 31, 2014.
To listen to the February 25 webinar discussion of this program, go to https://connect16.uc.att.com/gsa1/meet/?RecordingKey=BC10F41D-CA17-4DE2-B1A7-70C78C97B9CC
5 thoughts on “State Government Electronic Records”
In the webinar today regarding this grant line, discussion largely focused on multi-state collaborative projects. I wondered if that would be NHPRC’s preference, or if multi-agency collaborative projects within a state, funneled through that state’s state archives or its representative, would also be competitive.
The State Electronic Records Grants will open up a means by which states can boost their efforts to preserve and make electronic records accessible. The ability to partner with other states or local governments should also allow for some innovative and standard setting projects to share their outcomes with the larger community of state and territorial archives. The Council of State Archivists’ State Electronic Records Initiative (SERI) is focused on ways to build capacity in all state and territorial electronic records programs. This includes sharing standards, policies, tools, and even experiences within our community. I believe this grant category will strengthen our efforts by encouraging replicable and scalable projects that serve to inform all of our programs.
I attended the February 24 webinar on this grant category. During the Q&A portion of the webinar I shared a number of my thoughts about the draft grant announcement. Allowing for more than three grants per cycle in this category would be a major improvement, as would allowing a group such as CoSA to apply for a grant in this category. Additionally, during the webinar participants heard a great deal about the overall emphasis on access to state electronic records, and I applaud NHPRC for this emphasis. I wonder if a grant for two years unnecessarily limits the ability of some state or territorial archives to apply for these grants. I believe it would be a benefit to state and territorial archives if the length of time allowed on a grant could be lengthened to three years, if necessary. I can conceive that many state or territorial archives may need that much time to complete a project from ingest through preservation and access, particularly if the state or territory is just beginning to build the infrastructure of their electronic records program.
Many people have devoted countless time over the last three years to the SERI project, and I believe this grant category will be of great assistance in our efforts to build collaboration and tools to increase capacity within all of our state and territorial electronic records programs. I believe these grants could have a transformative effect on the preservation and access of state and territorial electronic records if the grants are accessible to the entire community, not just those with strong electronic records programs right now who can more easily design a complex electronic records access project.
These grants to the states regarding electronic records certainly open up the possibility of transforming the process of acquiring and making accessible electronic records, which is clearly a desperate need. In addition, these grants allow for standards to be further developed for all. In the process of awarding these grants, the NHPRC clearly desires to get “the most bang for the buck,” as it rightly should. At the same time, cooperation and collaboration needs to be encouraged. At this time there is a wide disparity between the electronic records programs within the states. Offering the possibility of more than three grants allows some states who are willing to make a significant investment of resources the possibility of “catching up.” Encouraging collaborative grants that include a spectrum of states with different capabilities could accomplish the same goal. In addition, grants to address a specific, small, yet vital issue could be of great use to the various states. I would also like to second the comments Sarah Koonts made about these grants and the role of COSA and SERI within this larger context. These grants are an invaluable tool and need to do the most good for the most states.
This is a wonderful opportunity for providing access to state electronic records, and I am glad NHPRC is taking the initiative to help move state electronic records programs forward. I also appreciate the emphasis on open online access as an end goal for these grants. I would second Sarah Koonts’s point though that there are improvements that would make these grants accessible to the entire community, and not only those currently able to develop complex access projects. I agree that altering the description to allow for more than three grants, making the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) eligible to apply, and extending the time from two years to three years would create a more inclusive grant program.
There is great potential through these grants to build on the work that CoSA’s State Electronic Records Initiative (SERI) has done in helping to develop state electronic records programs. I agree with Sarah that by encouraging replicable and scalable projects this grant program would strengthen SERI’s efforts.
I am very pleased to see the draft of this new grant announcement about State Government Electronic Records. Funding for electronic records and digital preservation in state archives is one of the most critical archival needs in the United States. As Nancy mentioned in the webinar for this grant announcement, the records produced by all our governments are an important and irreplaceable part of the American Record. Records in electronic form are being created by all fifty-six state and territorial governments on a daily basis, but, because of varying capacities in each state, critical documentation may be lost. I commend NHPRC for its new emphasis on helping preserve digital government records and information, and for using the work of the Council of State Archivists’ (CoSA) State Electronic Records Initiative (SERI) to inform this draft.
I would appreciate it if the grant announcement could be changed to allow CoSA to apply on behalf of the states, in order to make grant administration easier and to ensure broad perspective in managing these grants. CoSA staff and leadership are aware of issues and concerns among the states, making all the projects stronger and more meaningful. Additionally, fiscal administration on a multi-state project would be difficult for some states if not handled by CoSA For instance, if Kentucky wanted to cooperate with another state on a grant, our fiscal practices would make it very difficult for us to serve as the fiscal agent for another state. We have also found in recent years (on NHPRC and on Library of Congress NDIIP projects) that having another state act as a fiscal agent for us can be difficult as well.
The award information should be less rigid, i.e. Commission will award up to 600,000 annually for grants in length of one to three years, as opposed to the current up to three grants of one or two years each. More flexibility would help ensure the success of these grants.
The announcement emphasizes dealing with records as they come to the archives, which is a very important consideration in having an electronic records program. I would also like the grant announcement revised to allow for capacity building in the states that may not yet have the foundation to accession records. Based on some of the questions we see in CoSA’s SERI program, it would be good to find a way to fund a consultant to work with X number of states, or to have a mentoring program that includes a states with a stronger programs working with states and territories with developing programs. I am not sure that the announcement as written supports states without ongoing programs as much as it does those of us who do have electronic records and digital preservation programs in place ready to deal with acquiring real records. There has to be a basis for creating a repository, and I hope NHPRC will change this announcement to provide for creating that basis.
Also, I agree with everything my colleague, Sarah Koonts from NC, says in her comments above. She is co-chairing CoSA’s SERI program, and has expert knowledge on individual states and territories.