NARA: Preserving Web records is up to each agency

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Harvest time

The Library of Congress is leading a
comprehensive end-of-term harvest of
.gov Web sites because no one else is
doing it this year.

The National Archives and Records
Administration, which is charged by the
Federal Records Act with gathering official
government records, announced in
March that it would not gather snapshots
of executive branch Web sites.
Most material on Web sites does not fall
into the category of official records,
NARA said, and each agency is responsible
for gathering the necessary material.

NARA collected Web pages at the ends
of the two previous administrations out
of an abundance of caution because it
had not yet issued guidance on managing
Web records, according to NARA.
NARA issued its 'Guidance on Managing
Web Records' in 2005.

'Accordingly, each agency is now
responsible, in coordination with NARA,
for determining how to manage its Web
records, including whether to preserve a
periodic snapshot of its entire Web
page,' NARA said in explaining its decision
not to gather Web sites.

Congress is not covered by the Federal
Records Act and is not required to select
and preserve its official records, so
NARA will conduct its own harvest of
congressional Web sites as it has done
in the past, with the caveat that this will
preserve only a snapshot from a single
point in time.

It also will receive a snapshot of the
White House Web site at the end of the
administration. White House records are
governed by the Presidential Records
Act.

NARA's guidance and other information
on Web archiving can be found at
GCN.com, Quickfinds 1234, 1235 and
1236.

About the Author

William Jackson is freelance writer and the author of the CyberEye blog.

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