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10 The focus group's discussion of this prototype ended with ria, the latter involving time, place, and theme. The database a listing of the pros and cons of fully developing and using would also need to include integrity, and it would benefit a Historic Significance Attribute Table. Pros included the users to have information about the use of similar resources. following: Having this tool would help agencies focus on collecting the right information and would give researchers and reviewers · The table would provide a more defensible National the ability to find information on similar resources. It would Register evaluation analysis. also lead to the development of dynamic historic contexts. · The table would result in more explicit National Regis- The pros identified for this option were as follows: ter significance decision making and would expedite the review process. · The database would result in a standardization of · The table would generate IT-processed reports in formal databases. and standard formats. · The database would build significance attributes into · The table would result in an improved and structured resource inventories. tool for consultation and decision making. · The table would reduce time needed for consultation The cons identified for this option were as follows: among resource agencies and consultants. · The table would provide a standard format for reviews. · Most states have already completed or started building · The table may accelerate tribal reviews. databases and have invested a lot of resources in these · The table would document the knowledge base of agency efforts. States seem unwilling to redo, add, or modify their staff that will be leaving as a result of retirement or mov- existing systems.1 ing to another job. · The database would require significant support. · DOTs could use this tool to create a new resource eval- uation format (replacing current types of documentation Ultimately, the focus group had little enthusiasm for devel- [e.g., narrative evaluation reports]) to streamline the oping the prototype for this option. The primary reason for review process. Either the DOT or a consultant would not recommending this option was the negative responses of complete a form and attach supporting materials. The the state DOTs and SHPOs during both the first survey and form would then be sent electronically to the agencies the follow-up survey conducted during Phase 2. The focus involved in the evaluation consultation process for their group felt that the other options were more effective mecha- review and concurrence. nisms to improve significance evaluations. Cons of fully developing and using a Historic Significance Attribute Table include the following: A Common Electronic Format · The table would require CRM professionals to define The focus group noted that not all historic contexts are use- the important attributes needed to develop the tables. ful; therefore, it would be necessary for states participating in This definition might be difficult to do. the testing of this tool to select their best historic contexts, · The table may result in the perception that the tool mech- making sure that the contexts explicitly deal with evaluating anizes the evaluation process, resulting in an inflexible National Register eligibility. Also, it was recommended that system. existing electronic files and documents be used to facilitate · The table would require more up-front time and resources tool development and testing. to develop. The process for developing this tool would involve (1) designing the document profile (i.e., the index values [meta- Ultimately, the focus group members recommended the data] that should be collected for each document), (2) defin- full development and testing of this tool. The tool was seen ing the acceptable index values and keyword baseline in con- as an important way to streamline and improve significance sultation with participating states, (3) collecting and scanning evaluations. the documents, and (4) having states review the resulting document library. For this tool to work, good document index- ing would be necessary, as searchability would be very impor- tant. The focus group suggested the following preliminary An MS Access Database indexing fields: The focus group noted that to use the MS Access database, it was necessary to determine whether the database would be 1 The project team considered developing translation programs or data loaders that a complete inventory of resource attributes or just the mini- could be used to link existing databases to a new standardized database or to migrate data from existing databases to a new one. There are several issues with this approach. mal information needed for evaluating significance. The data- The primary issue is the high cost of developing custom scripts to work with each dif- base would need to link resource data and significance crite- ferent source database and developing a customized approach for each state.