Saturday, October 22, 2011

BPE 2011: tidbits and lessons learned

The 2011 Best Practices Exchange (BPE) wrapped up about an hour ago, and I am both invigorated and completely exhausted. I’ll be posting more about the BPE either over the next few days or late next week (I may be without Internet access for a few days) , but I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few insights and lessons learned.

In yesterday’s morning plenary session, Doug Robinson of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers provided an overview of the challenges that state CIOs are facing. Those of us who work in state government need to be aware of the issues that these important partners face:
  • At present, 25 state and territorial CIOs are new appointments. Another 7 CIOs are serving in an acting capacity, and several new governors(Cuomo among them) have yet to appoint a CIO. About half of the CIOs report directly to the governor, but a growing number of states are moving the position of CIO out of the cabinet and placing it under the supervision of budget or procurement director. The CIOs of roughly half the states are currently situated within a budget or procurement office.
  • State CIOs come in from and return to the private sector, serve at the pleasure of the governor, and are in office for an average of 21 months. In contrast, private sector CIOs are in office for more than four years.
  • State CIOs are more interested in rationalizing and centralizing IT services than in introducing new technology. Their budgets are being cut, the budgets of the agencies that pay user fees for IT services are being cut, and they are very focused on saving money by consolidating and streamlining services. They’re also starting to explore sharing services across states. However, they’re pushing against agency resistance to consolidation, lack of a shared enterprise technology vision, the persistence of large legacy systems, outmoded and cumbersome IT procurement processes, and a host of other concerns. Many of them also have more accountability than authority.
  • State CIOs have identified electronic records management/digital preservation, authentication of data, social media, and the presence of state data on mobile devices as pressing concerns, but they’re doing much about them -- in large part because they’re not sure what they should do. Archivists and records managers should seize the opportunity to help CIOs address these issues.
  • Many state CIOs are also moving to private clouds, especially for e-mail, and this has records management implications: in many instances, individual users are getting very large inboxes, and many cloud contracts specify that service providers must destroy messages after a set period of time and certify that the destruction was carried out properly. It also has workforce implications: at present, states are accustomed to having one IT staffer administer roughly 20 servers. Google and other cloud service providers are accustomed to having one staffer oversee approximately 1,000 servers, and they’re always seeking greater efficiencies.
  • Other possible points of archivist/records manager-CIO intersection include enterprise architecture and policy, IT consolidation, shared services, and demands for government openness and transparency.
Some other interesting tidbits and lessons learned include:
  • In the past six years, state archives have accessioned over a million cubic feet of paper records. Agency consolidations, staff reductions, and budget cuts have propelled many records to push paper records out of storage space they pay for, and state archives are struggling to find space for masses of incoming records.
  • The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act a piece of model legislation governing how states authenticate, preserve, and provide access to electronic copies of the state constitution, session laws, codified laws or statutes, state agency rules with the effect of law, and, optionally, court rules and decisions, state administrative agency decisions, and other legal material, will soon be the subject of a lot of state-level deliberation. Archivists and records managers must be actively involved in these discussions.
  • Redaction remains a bottleneck and a burden. We’ve made considerable strides in automating the processing of electronic records and making them accessible shortly after we accession them. Even though new search tools that facilitate identification and redaction of legally restricted or classified information are starting to appear, we’re still doing a lot of record-by-record review, particularly when less cut-and-dried forms of information (e.g., attorney work product) are present. In an era in which citizens and oversight bodies increasingly expect that records will made accessible quickly, this is a challenge.
  • Adobe Acrobat X is currently creating regular PDFs that don’t fully conform to the published PDF technical documentation; at least one digital collection’s validation tool consistently rejects PDFs created with Acrobat X. PDF/A files created with Acrobat X do conform to the published specification.

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