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Friday, November 4, 2011

TRAC: A2.2: The right quantity of staff and skills

A2.2 Repository has the appropriate number of staff to support all functions and services.

Staffing for the repository must be adequate for the scope and mission of the archiving program. The repository should be able to demonstrate an effort to determine the appropriate number and level of staff that corresponds to requirements and commitments. (These requirements are related to the core functionality covered by a certification process. Of particular interest to repository certification is whether the organization has appropriate staff to support activities related to the long-term preservation of the data.) The accumulated commitments of the repository can be identified in deposit agreements, service contracts, licenses, mission statements, work plans, priorities, goals, and objectives. Understaffing or a mismatch between commitments and staffing indicates that the repository cannot fulfill its agreements and requirements.

Evidence: Organizational charts; definitions of roles and responsibilities; comparison of staffing levels to commitments and estimates of required effort.

This is an interesting question for an organization like ICPSR.  My colleague Nancy McGovern mentioned something the other day:  She noted the difference between digital preservation (where ICPSR spends some of its resources, but not the lion's share) and data curation (where we spend a significant quantity of resources).

My sense is that the effort required to perform a base level of digital preservation on our content - plain text survey data and PDF- and XML-format documentation - is relatively small, and even if ICPSR found itself operating on a minimal budget without any of its topical archives or special projects, there would be an adequate number of staff to manage the archival holdings, review fixity reports, and execute migrations of content from format to format, or from location to location.

In our present configuration, we can see a close correlation between required effort and resources.  This most often manifests itself as line-items in individual project budgets.  But it also shows up on the organizational chart when one sees specific organizational units at ICPSR which have a clear digital preservation mission or component.

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