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NARA will NOT harvest at end of current administration

According to a post on .govwatch (The National Archives Is Quietly Destroying Millions of Documents April 08, 2008 by Coby Logen), a recent memo at the National Archives and Records Administration says:

After considering our other records management program priorities for FY 2008, availability of harvested web content at other “archiving” sites (e.g., www.archive.org), and the resources required for conducting and preserving a government-wide web snapshot, NARA has determined that we will not conduct a web harvest or snapshot at the end of the current Administration.

Logen says that “Not capturing federal web sites now may mean losing millions of web pages authored under the Bush administration when leadership changes in January 2009.”

John Wonderlich at the Sunlight Foundations comments that “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.” (Digital Preservation Under Threat? by John Wonderlich on April 9, 2008)

This seems yet another example of the government saying it cannot and therefore it won’t. (The NARA/TGN contract as a bad precedent). Call it the Katrina of digital preservation?

The New York Times sums up the underlying issue nicely yesterday: “In Storing 1’s and 0’s, the Question Is $” (By John Schwartz, New York Times, April 9, 2008). It is not a technological issue; it is an issue of funding and policy and control. (See: The Technical is Political.)

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