NARA's new view on Web snapshots

In discussions with Webmasters, the National Archives and Records Administration revealed a timesaver in its call for agencies to produce Web site snapshots.

NARA representatives have met with information technology personnel at the departments of Defense, Treasury, Justice and Agriculture regarding the requirements for making "snapshots" of agency Web sites. The initiative calls for documentation of agency Web sites as they existed as of Jan. 20.

At a March 27 meeting with Agriculture personnel, NARA agreed to accept one Web site description form and media unit for all agencies or offices that use the same server. NARA asked that the form list all organizations contained in the media unit readout.

The action is an enormous time-saver for agency personnel whose Web sites reside with other organizations on a server. For example, the USDA has several agencies and offices on a central server, so only one report form and readout need to be filed.

In response to the call for Web site snapshots, NARA says most filings have been on CD-ROM. Nearly 3,000 filings have been received, totaling about 20 terabytes of information. About 100 digital linear tape submissions have been received.

Not all agencies have submitted material. NARA will grant time extensions for filing. NARA says it prefers the documentation report be filed in ASCII format. No particular format is required for the Web site. Compression can be in PKWare Inc.'s PKZIP, TAR or other popular formats. The version number should be included in the report. Adobe Systems Inc.'s Web Capture has been used in submissions with good results.

The form for submitting reports is available from NARA at www.nara.gov/records/websnapshot.html. And a FAQ sheet is available at www.nara.gov/records/faq05-01.html.

If you need more information, contact NARA at (301) 713-6639 or e-mail atcer@nara.gov. Michael Carlson or Edwin McCeney of the Electronic and Special Media Records Services Division in the Office of Records Services at NARA, who spoke at the USDA meeting, also can provide specific advice regarding your Web site.

Powell is the Agriculture Department's Internet and intranet Webmaster.

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