2. Develop Program Statement

Here is a draft program statement for an electronic records program:

DRAFT: Subject to change at any moment

1. Introduction

The preamble should outline need for your program and situate it in a broad context.  It should and state that that the program will meet the needs of a parent organization and/or those who you expect will use its resources.  It should also link the program to organizations or people that interact with or depend upon the program, such record producers/depositors.


In the future many people will need access to viable, authentic, representative, and usable evidence concerning [ “past human activities” or insert a statement relevant to your documentary focus], as well as the information, knowledge, and forms of expression that have resulted from those activities.  Since most records produced in the last 20 years have been created and managed in electronic formats, and since the volume of such records grows every year, the [insert name of repository] takes active steps to identify, preserve, and provide access to the significant records that we and our partners believe will be necessary to [insert general characterization of your expected uses and users, e.g. ‘provide students and scholars with research materials related to . . .’ or ‘citizens with records to confirm rights and hold public officials accountable for their actions’ or ‘our organization the ability to preserve vital business functions’. ]

This program statement outlines how we intend to meet the challenges of identifying, preserving, and providing access to a set of vital and useful electronic records at [name of institution.]

2. Program Charge and Mandate

The program charge and mandate should provide a very brief statement characterizing the service your program intends to provide to its user community and/or parent organization.  It should relate this objective to your overall organizational mission and/or any external mandates that provide your program its authority to fulfil its charge

The [insert name of repository] is charged with [insert characterization of mandate here].[1] As part of this mandate, we will acquire, preserve, and provide access electronic records and manuscript materials that fall within the documentary scope provided in section 4 below.

“We are committed to acting as a responsible steward of all electronic records that we manage, so that such records may be viable and accessible for as long as they are needed, by whomever they are needed.[2]

3. Partners

It is beyond the capability of even the best-funded archive to design and impmlent a electronic records preservation program.  This section should acknowledge the contributions of other groups or people on whom your program depends.  Where appropriate, it should characterize the nature of any explicit commitments that these partners hold regarding the overall program goals.

“As we seek to fulfil this charge, we will work with the following groups and organizations to implement technologies and procedures that support our commitment to identify, preserve, and provide access to electronic materials that are deposited in our repository:

[Insert list of partners here, for example:

  • Donors and record producers
  • Information technology units
  • Records management units
  • Parent organizations, e.g. libraries or government agencies]”

If any of the above groups share an explicit commitment to one or more of your program goals, briefly characterize the nature of that commitment

4. Documentary Scope

The electronic records program statement should include a brief statement concerning the scope of records that will be included in the repository.  It may be helpful to refer to a broader documentary or collections policy.  In addition, the statement should identify the records creators or producers whose records you will consider for inclusion.  For an institutional archives, the statement may be linked to a specific mandate to preserve records from the parent organization. For a manuscript repository, it may take the form of a generalized statement of interest in records relating to a particular topical area.  Finally, the scope statement should identify both the broad set of users who might use the materials. For a non-public archives, this statement should identify a designated user communities (a set of users who share a particular background, interests, or subject knowledge that would assist them in understanding the records).  Carefully defining the defined user community will help to determine both the content of the collections policy as well as the types of metadata and contextual information that you need to preserve in order to make the records understandable and useful.

We seek to identify, preserve, and provide access to records concerning [insert statement briefly characterising area of documentary/collection focus.]  We acquire records from [insert description of depositors/information producers whose records your repository seeks to acquire and preserve] and we will maintain materials for use by [insert description of general user community. user community].

5. Guiding Values and Commitments

Choose the most appropriate set of guiding values or commitments from the list below, or define additional ones using the resources cited in the appendix to this template

  • We strive to implement the Open Archival Information Reference Model (OAIS) standards and to achieve certification as a Trusted Digital Repository.
  • We and our partners will use hardware, software and storage media that comply with industry-standard best practices and procedures.
  • We will utilize and adhere to community and other standards concerning the appraisal, arrangement, description, preservation, and access of all materials in our electronic records repository.
  • We will clearly document our policies, procedures, and practices.
  • We strive to maintain accurate records concerning the authenticity, provenance, chain of custody, and integrity of all records deposited with us.
  • We will comply with ownership, copyright and intellectual property rights as they affect digital content in our repository.
  • The exact level of preservation services that we provide for a particular record set will depend on the technical quality and completeness of the data as it is deposited with us.  We may seek to augment such data.

6. Pre-deposit services

This section should identify any services and assistance that you will provide to users prior to the deposit of materials, to help them prepare their records for deposit and management.

Before records transfer, we will provide advice and assistance to individuals or groups producing records that fall within our documentary scope.  Such advice and assistance may help ensure that records are more easily used during their active life and that they are easier to identify, authenticate, organize, preserve and disseminate after deposit with us.

We offer the following services to help achieve this goal [add or delete bullets as appropriate, or refer to external policy].

  • Consulting regarding the design or implementation electronic filing and storage systems.
  • Criteria for evaluating document and electronic records management systems.
  • Development of records management plans/disposal authorizations

7. Acquisition of Records

This section should specify the manner in which your repository will acquire electronic records prior to their storage in an electronic records repository.  It should emphasise how you will determine which records to include in your repository and should state that all transfers will take place under a process defined in a submission agreement.

We will acquire, manage, and provide access only to records that have been determined to have permanent legal, administrative, or historical value.   We will not manage records that must be retained merely to meet temporary legal, financial, audit, or records-retention requirements.

Factors affecting the determination of permanent value include, but are not limited to:  [delete or add bullets as required]

  • Prior determination of value under an approved records retention schedule and appraisal by the archivist.[3]
  • Appropriateness of records under out documentation and/or collection policy.[4]

Electronic materials will be transferred to our custody under the terms of an authorized submission agreement [and/or deed of gift.][5] The submission agreement will serve as the basis for the generation of archival management information and will list conditions and commitments pertinent to the deposit that it covers.

We will permanently maintain the submission agreement, will link it to records received under its authority, and will provide a copy to the records producer/creator upon request.

8. Processing of Records

A processing and preservation plan will be developed for every set of electronic records that is deposited with us.  This plan will be maintained as part of the submission agreement and/or preservation description information described below.

All records submitted to us will be arranged, described, and processed for storage in our electronic records repository.  To the extent possible, we will use the processes and procedures listed in our electronic records processing guidelines.[6] When necessary, we will use other techniques and will describe the techniques and software used in a processing noted included in the preservation description information.

During processing, we may decide that certain records do not warrant permanent preservation, based on our documentation policy and appraisal criteria.  In this case, we will describe the nature of the files that we did not include and will alert the records creator to any actions we have taken.

We may undertake one of more preservation actions to migrate or convert records to a supported format prior to deposit in our electronic records repository.  We will describe any preservation actions and will maintain a record of them in the Preservation Description Information described below.

In the case of records transferred or migration to another format for preservation and access purposes, we will maintain a copy of all records deposited with us in their original format.

We will maintain documentation concerning preservation actions and tools that we utilize in our processing workflow.

9. Management of Electronic Materials

This section should specify core commitments regarding the manner in which your repository will actively manage electronic records that have been submitted.  The text below offers a core basic commitment based on the OAIS reference model, and specific procedures and tools to implement it must be adopted by your institution.

We will manage electronic records so that all materials in our repository are identifiable, viable, renderable, understandable, and authentic.  All digital records that are deposited with us will consist of an information packet, which will be comprised of:

  • The “Digital Content Object” that is the focus of preservation, along with information necessary to render and understand the object.  For a full description of the information and procedures that we use to manage digital objects, see our Content Information Management Policy.
  • “Preservation Description Information,” to support preservation and access to the object.  This includes:
    • Reference information: to uniquely identify the records and to associate them with other resources.
    • Descriptive information: to describe the intellectual content of the records.
    • Provenance Information: to describe and the context under which they were created and used, as well as their subsequent chain of custody.
    • Structural information: to describe the organization of individual files within the record set
    • Fixity Information: to record information necessary to verify the integrity and authenticity of records from the time received by us until their deposited with us, such as checksums.

The Digital Content Object and the Preservation Description Information will remain bound together into a single logical unit, although they may be managed in separate technologies.

We will fully document any preservation actions taken to extend the period in which electronic records can be used.  For each preservation action undertaken, we will record pertinent information in the Preservation Description Information that is part of the information packet for the object.

We will perform periodic audits of the preservation system and the integrity and completeness of objects and preservation description information that we manage.

10. Access and Use of Electronic Materials

This section should describe the manner in which you provide access to records.  You should list the systems you use and the methods by which access will be provided (web-based, on site, etc.)

We will maintain and list of supported file formats.  Each supported format will be an open standard or we will provide tools to emulate and provide


Lavoie, Brian F. “The Open Archival Information System Reference Model: Introductory Guide.”  DPC Technology Watch Series, Report 04-0: January 2004.  http://www.dpconline.org/docs/lavoie_OAIS.pdf

Neil Beagrie, Najla Semple, Peter Williams, and Richard Wright, JISC Digital Preservation Policies Study, Final Report, October 2008. http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/programmes/preservation/jiscpolicy_p1finalreport.pdf

Tufts Accessioning Program for Electronic Records.  http://dca.tufts.edu/?pid=49

[1] Insert a citation from the authorizing or mandate document, such as Statues of Organization, a charge from a parent body or superior officer, a general program statement approved by a board of governors, etc.

[2] In some instances, records may not be available for use due to restrictions imposed by legal requirements or other terms.  In addition, some records may be accessible only on site at the [name of repository] due to technological and/or rights issues, such as copyright restrictions.

[3] Insert a citation to any appraisal policies or procedures here.

[4] Insert a citation to e-records documentation policy.

[5] Insert link to sample submission agreement and/or deed of gift.

[6] Insert link to manual.

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