April 28, 2008 – Daniel Pitti, associate director of the University of Virginia's Institute for the Advanced Technologies in the Humanities, is serving on the National Archives and Record Administration's Advisory Committee on the Electronic Records Archive. Pitti's appointment, effective Jan. 1, came after almost seven years of work with the institute, during which he designed several databases in support of research projects.
Pitti will continue to work at U.Va. while serving on the committee.
The committee advises the archivist of the United States on technical, mission and service issues related to the Electronic Records Archive system.
"The digital age presents daunting challenges to the preservation of the records of the U.S. Government," Pitti said. "The purpose of a national archive is to support transparency in a democratic government. The advent of digital communication and electronic records has created technical, social, legal and ethical problems for that goal."
The National Archives and Record Administration — the country's recordkeeper — holds the 1 and 3 percent of the documents and material created by the federal government that are considered legally or historically significant. They do not loan out any original documents for research, and thus access to these materials is limited until the electronic system is completed.
Despite the formidable challenge that the electronic records presents, Allen Weinstein, archivist of the United States, says that the National Archives and Record Administration is committed to addressing the challenge head-on.
"NARA's vision is to create a system that will authentically preserve and provide access to any kind of electronic record, free from dependency on any specific hardware or software, enabling NARA to carry out its mission into the future," he said.
The advisory committee's membership is drawn from private companies, government groups and universities.
Pitti specializes in research project design, with a particular focus on the use of markup and database technologies. He served as the main technical architect behind Encoded Archival Description, recognized and employed internationally as the standard for communicating archival description; and Encoded Archival Context, a prototype standard for the description of people, individuals, families and corporate bodies.
For information on NARA, visit www.archives.gov/about/.