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Producers of official data (national statistical agencies and line ministries) generate vast amounts of data and information in digital form each year, including microdata from surveys and censuses, content of administrative recording systems, databases of indicators, sample frames, registers, methodological and analytical reports, publications, maps, and other types of content. These digital assets represent significant investment by producers, have considerable value for present and future users, and must be preserved. There are, unfortunately, numerous examples of important data being lost in the absence of an effective preservation approach; for example, data have been stored on outdated, unreadable mainframe tapes and other obsolete technology. A sustainable preservation program addresses organizational issues, technological concerns, and funding questions.p>

  • Organizational infrastructure includes policies, procedures, practices, and people—elements that any program needs to thrive, but they must be specialized to address digital preservation requirements. Infrastructure addresses this key development question: What are the requirements and parameters for the organization’s digital preservation program?
  • Technological infrastructure consists of the requisite equipment, software, hardware, secure environment, and skills to establish and maintain the digital preservation program. It anticipates and responds wisely to changing technology. It addresses this key development question: How will the organization meet defined digital preservation requirements?
  • Resources framework addresses the requisite start-up, ongoing, and contingency funding to enable and sustain the digital preservation program. It addresses this key development question: What resources will be needed to develop and maintain the digital preservation program?

The IHSN has commissioned the production of the following guide, “Principles and Good Practice for Preserving Data,” on digital data preservation.

This document provides basic guidance for managers in statistical agencies who are responsible for preserving data using the principles and best practices defined by the digital preservation community. The document defines the rationale for preserving data and the principles and standards applied to data preservation; documents the development of a digital preservation policy; and uses digital archive audit principles to suggest best practices for data.