National Archives Releases Digital Preservation Framework for Public Comment
Press Release · Monday, September 16, 2019

Washington, DC

The National Archives and Records Administration is seeking public comment and discussion on our digital preservation framework, which consists of our approach to determining risks faced by electronic files, and our plans for preserving different types of file formats. The public is encouraged to join the discussion, September 16 through November 1, 2019, on GitHub.

Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero explained the importance of this new digital vision: “We’re in the process of shifting the entire government off of paper and to all electronic record-keeping, and we play a major role in helping the agencies get to that point,” Ferriero said. “Our new strategic plan is the roadmap. By putting records management and digital preservation at the forefront of our priorities, we will help drive greater efficiency and effectiveness while making the Federal government more responsive to the American people.”

This is evidenced by the June 2019 direction (M-19-21, Transition to Electronic Records) to Federal agencies to transition business processes and record keeping to a fully electronic environment and to end the National Archives’ acceptance of paper records by December 31, 2022.

The National Archives' digital preservation subject matter experts, led by Director of Digital Preservation Leslie Johnston, have been hard at work to prepare the National Archives for this change. They have formalized a set of documents that describe how we identify risks to digital files and prioritize them for action, and created specific plans for the preservation of these many file formats.

“The National Archives has been adding electronic records to the holdings since 1970, so managing and preserving these files is not something new. Digital Preservation is the process applied to the ‘born-digital’ electronic record files and digitized physical records that we have in our holdings, where we identify file formats, assess risk, and take actions to ensure that the content of the records continue to be available for researchers into the future,” Johnston said.

As we continue to lead the government’s efforts for fully electronic recordkeeping, we are engaging other Federal agencies, the private sector, and stakeholders and subject matter experts to establish best practices in our archival and preservation efforts. We are also ensuring that our process for identifying and mitigating risk in the electronic records that we preserve and make accessible is as transparent as possible.  We are posting these documents because we want to share what we are doing, and because we need your help. 

The documents are available at:

Please use the Issues feature to leave comments or questions, or to start a discussion. The matrix and plans will be open for comment until November 1, 2019. After that time, National Archives staff will take all the feedback and update the matrix and plans, incorporating the comments. Then final versions will be publicly released, and updated on an ongoing basis in response to changing risks and new technologies and formats.


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This page was last reviewed on September 16, 2019.
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