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The War On Military Records
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WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
12/10/2013 | 10:37:04 AM
Preserving Public Records
Thanks for sharing your experiences -- and the dilemma facing government records archivists.  Given the immense volumes of records generating daily, it is impossible to comprehend how individuals could sort through and manage all these records anymore.  My question is, are these content classification tools potentially breeding a false sense of security that they are identifying all the records that, by statute, must be preserved?

 
Joel5171
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Joel5171,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/10/2013 | 12:15:20 PM
Re: Preserving Public Records
This is a great question! Given that the article had to be of a certain length a lot of what I wanted to say could not be included. This was one issue that I could not fit it.

A File Analysis tool is really just one answer to a question that requires multiple answers. For example, you still need an Electronic Records Management Application (ERMA) to ensure records are kept for as long as their disposition requires.

These tools help identify (and quickly) what and where the information is so you can then apply retention on them. They quickly assist the archivist or records manager in cleaning up those cluttered shared drives and SharePoint repositories that are out there.

I still hope to publish a more expansive article in either the American Archivist or Archivaria which really details how the entire operation to recover, preserve and then identify the records took place.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
12/10/2013 | 2:30:05 PM
Terabyte Limit Doesn't Compute
In the context of big data, 54 terabytes is no big deal. I don't get why the National Archives has cut off what they will save at 14 terabytes. Why not save it. You never know when some future revelation or future form of analysis renders that information relevant and useful. Geez, you can find 2 TB and 3 TB external hard drives for as little as $100. Why do we have to make any hard choices here. Save everything! History won't forgive you for repeting the same mistakes you described after the first Gulf War.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
12/10/2013 | 2:55:11 PM
Re: Terabyte Limit Doesn't Compute
Doug makes a good point. Also, how did plentiful cloud storage options factor into the decision process?
Joel5171
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Joel5171,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/10/2013 | 3:14:51 PM
Re: Terabyte Limit Doesn't Compute
I cannot speak for rules and regulations from the National Archives. There are permanent records and temporary records. NARA usually does not want temporary records.

However, I think for the next conflict (and lets hope that day never comes) records issue there should be some discussion on keeping it all. But understand this opens up some serious issues for FOIA and eDiscovery.

Also, the 54 terabytes does not include the records from the Army, Navy and Air Force who collect their own service records. It also does not include other classified records.
Joel5171
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Joel5171,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/10/2013 | 3:16:40 PM
Re: Terabyte Limit Doesn't Compute
As far as I know there is no cloud for classified records, nor do I think ther ever should be unless there is full assurance that those records are protected until such time as they are declassified. 
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
12/10/2013 | 4:39:59 PM
Re: Terabyte Limit Doesn't Compute
> Save everything! History won't forgive you for repeting the same mistakes you described after the first Gulf War.

If you save everything, you're inviting a maintenance cost that will grow over time. In my experience, data that isn't in motion, being maintained and updated, quickly becomes inaccessible. Selectivity might end up being a better use of tax dollars.
AlvinP563
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AlvinP563,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/10/2013 | 6:31:59 PM
Take a closer look.
If there is indeed a war on Military records, it would be the government giving the order for records to be distroyed.

The 1st Gulf war is recorded as the most toxic war in "Western military history" due to the vast array of toxic exposures troops were forced to encounter, this consisted in the main of Toxic fallout plumes from the allied boming of enemy chemicle weapons sites, Deplited uranium dust from our very own ordinence, Toxic smoke inhelation from multiple oil well fires.

In addition, troops were ORDERD to take a experimental cocktail of drugs.

It has been widely reported over the last 23 years that 1 in 4 Desert Storm veterans have come down with serious multiple illnesess, many have sadly died.

All this talk about costings and admin problems for the retention and management of battlefield records is a mere deflection from the truth.

The real reason records go missing is two fold, 1. To hide embarissment & negligence exposures  2. To avoid any legal litigation resulting from such action, pure and simple.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
12/10/2013 | 10:43:54 PM
Re: Terabyte Limit Doesn't Compute
Save everything is just like keeping all the posts you have received from banks, companies and government agencies. These posts are of importance when they first arrived so you would like to keep them in case of future reference needed. But normally what has happened is that, most of these posts will stay in pile without being touched anymore. Furthermore, save everything will leave you a dilemma: you don't know what is really important for you and when you really need something, simly you are not able to find it. So it's quite important to identify really valuable stuff instead of saving everything.
aidtofind
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aidtofind,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/11/2013 | 10:57:36 AM
Re: Terabyte Limit Doesn't Compute
As an archivist who formerly worked for a state government, I'm not the slightest bit surprised that 75% of the total number of documents generated in the conflict turned out to be redundant and/or inconsequential.  Usually by the time documents reach an archives, they've been picked over by their creators and many duplicates and low-content items have already been discarded; even when that's the case it's quite common for the archivist to further "weed" multiple copies of memos, duplicates of reports filed elsewhere, etc.  How much more so when it sounds like this project caused the documents to more or less come straight to NARA without that filtering?  

Beyond the cost of storage, there's also the fact that a bloated, duplicate-ridden collection is more difficult to search and use than a streamlined one.  What Li Tan said is accurate:  "Keep it all" would be akin to an individual carefully filing away every single scrap of paper that ever came into her house, whether it was information-packed correspondence from distant family members or the fifteenth copy of the exact same Little Caesars flier.  It's not helpful to researchers, and it's not an effective use of funds.  I do believe that great care must be taken in determining which materials are truly redundant, and there needs to be transparency in terms of what's being kept versus what's being discarded, but it's extremely rare for "Keep it all" to be the appropriate response to the intake of a large collection.

Also, can I just say that the idea of software that identifies potential privacy issues in the documents warms my heart?  I can't tell you how much time I spent combing through materials we were going to provide to researchers to make sure we wouldn't be revealing social security numbers. 
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