Chronopolis: Detailed Audit Findings

On the basis of the audit, CRL identified two aspects of Chronopolis operations that should be clearly understood by current and prospective stakeholders.   These aspects correspond to specific TRAC criteria or to features of the repository that members of the Certification Advisory Panel believe are important to the North American research community.

They are as follows:

1. Funding plan and financial benchmarks (TRAC Criteria A4.1, A4.2, A4.5)

As a reliable service, Chronopolis must be able to sustain its activities from year to year, at least for its current stakeholders.  TRAC metrics A4.1 and A4.2 require that a repository have “short- and long-term business planning processes in place to sustain the repository over time” as well as “processes to review and adjust business plans at least annually.”   At the time of the audit these processes were in place for Chronopolis but were as yet untested.

To date Chronopolis has subsisted on grants and contracts from the Library of Congress National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) and the University of California San Diego, with substantial support from its partner institutions: the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.  Over the next few years the service will begin to generate operating revenue from providing data preservation services to other university and scientific efforts. 

In a three-year business plan provided to CRL by Chronopolis in April 2011, a number of then-current and prospective funding sources were identified:

  1. Support from Chronopolis node partners.  UCSD, NCAR and UMIACS had all committed to providing base level funding for Chronopolis during the next several years. This money was “not tied to specific grants or a customer base, but was to provide the wherewithal to support the basic technical infrastructure, including hardware, software and staffing, to assure that the current systems continue to function and that the data in the systems are fully preserved.”
  2. A multi-year subvention from the University of California San Diego university administration for local use of Chronopolis. UCSD instituted a campus-wide Research Cyber-Infrastructure program, for which Chronopolis will form the preservation backbone.  UCSD has committed to providing funding to Chronopolis for two years, which will cover a substantial portion of Chronopolis operating costs.
  3. Fee-based digital preservation services to other clients.  Chronopolis management anticipated an increase in demand from UCSD and other universities for data storage and management due to the new NSF and NIH requirement for data management plans from grant applicants. 

In addition to the specific funding sources listed above, Chronopolis continues to have a strong working relationship with the national preservation community, including the Library of Congress Office of Strategic Initiatives’ National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP), the National Digital Stewardship Alliance (NDSA), and the Digital Preservation Initiative (DPN).

2.  Preservation Policy (TRAC criteria A3.1, A3.6, B3.1, B4.1)

Implicit in several TRAC criteria is the existence of a written preservation policy, a document that expresses the repository’s commitment to preservation and outlines its chosen preservation strategies. The Chronopolis Mission Statement characterizes Chronopolis as “a preservation data grid and its supporting human, policy, and technological infrastructure."  However, unlike many other preservation repositories Chronopolis does not commit to preservation beyond the bits deposited by the client.

However, the Chronopolis Service Level Agreement (SLA) emphatically circumscribes the preservation services Chronopolis provides, as follows:  “Please note that Chronopolis does NOT perform specific ‘preservation actions’ upon files during or after ingest. This includes actions such as file format migration, file normalization, file type verification, creation of descriptive metadata, and rights management. If a customer wishes to have these services, they need to be done by the customer before data is deposited into Chronopolis.” 

Interviews with members of the then-current Chronopolis designated community indicated that they were aware of and satisfied with the data storage and backup services Chronopolis provided.  At the time of the audit, then, Chronopolis was fulfilling its commitments to its key clients by providing fairly minimal preservation services.