• It provides a clear path for NARA to identify permanently valuable essential evidence from a government-wide perspective, and it also enables agencies to make independent judgments as to whatever else they want to retain for their own purposes.

  • Diversity of responsibility is created with multiple agencies taking on the responsibility of preservation, and this diversity provides some additional measure of safety compared to that afforded by a monolithic repository.

  • By banding together, NARA and other organizations stand a much better chance of spreading widely the standards and tools for preparing records that are archive-ready, of developing affordable software to meet the needs of researchers and other clients of these repositories, and of otherwise making electronic records archives practical in the long run.

Despite these advantages to cooperative arrangements, there is a potential downside to a distributed set of archives. If systems proliferate and diverge, users of affiliated archives will be frustrated by different user interfaces, different access or authorization requirements, and different implementation of services (such as downloading electronic records). To increase the utility to users, the affiliates should federate search and authorization techniques and coordinate their services.

If such arrangements become more common, NARA’s role would shift to that of a standards-setter, federator, troubleshooter, and repository of last resort.

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