Critically Endangered small

Records from agencies at arms-length to government whether locally, nationally or internationally. They may be required to maintain archives for the purposes of transparency, sometimes for extended periods, and sometimes in diverse and complicated forms.

Group: Public Records

Trend in 2021:

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2019

increased riskTrend towards greater risk

Previous classification: Endangered


Trend in 2022:


increased riskTowards even greater risk


Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within twelve months, detailed assessment is now a priority.

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on many people and sectors.

Effort to Preserve

It would require a major effort to prevent losses in this group, possibly requiring the development of new preservation tools or techniques.


Records of non-executive state or national agencies; museum or leisure trusts; industry or public regulators; public audit services; public-good funding and investment agencies; autonomous and semi-autonomous public agencies; sovereign wealth funds; public/private partnerships; publicly owned companies.

‘Practically Extinct’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions’

Lack of preservation infrastructure; conflation of backup with preservation; loss of authenticity or integrity; Long-lived business processes; poor storage; churn of staff; significant volumes or diversity of data; poorly developed digitization specifications; ill-informed records management; poorly developed migration or normalizations specifications; longstanding protocols or procedures that apply unsuitable paper processes to digital materials; encryption; political instability; lack of sustained funding.

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Well managed data infrastructure; preservation enabled at the point of creation; carefully managed authenticity; use of persistent identifiers; finding aids; well managed records management processes; application of records management standards; recognition of preservation requirements at highest levels; strategic investment in digital preservation; preservation roadmap; participation in digital preservation community.

2021 Jury Review

This entry was added in 2019 as a subset of a previous entry for ‘Records of long duration from Local Government or Other Government Agencies’.  The split was intended to allow greater concentration on the challenges that these different types of agency face. Records of quasi non-governmental agencies are at arm’s length to government, but the ’QuaNGO’ or ‘ALEO’ (Arms-Length Executive Organization) may lack the capacity to meet complex digital preservation requirements that arise, nor be able to deposit in the government archive. The 2021 Jury added that arm's length bodies are still public bodies and they have a duty of care for maintaining evidence of their actions and transactions. They often receive public funding and depending on the archives, legislation may be required to transfer to an archive. The issue is when there is a lack of clarity regarding the recordkeeping requirements or a neglect of records and information once it has outlived its usefulness. These bodies still create records that affect citizen lives and have a duty to document, and therefore the critically endangered classification stands. There is also a 2021 trend towards greater risk when looking at the call for clarity and action to reduce impact of loss to citizens during a period of significant political and economic upheaval, when there is additional strain on agencies.

2022 Trend

The 2022 Taskforce agreed on a trend towards even greater risk based on the precarity of records in QuaNGO agencies in light of political economic upheaval over the last year creating greater strains for funding to support preservation capacity.

Additional Comments

Although the split draws attention to the different pressures faced by QuaNGOs it could be further subdivided into legally required public records and additional information that may enrich our digital preservation of society. The classification assumes that the roles and requirements for records management are clearly defined, but if this is not the case or there are inadequate resources to match the requirements, then the risk goes up.

While the 2022 trend shows increases in risk there are some green shoots of hope in Ireland found when working actively with the agencies, and communicating some of the concerns they have for their data so there’s a better awareness and hopefully that will turn into action.

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