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Gateways to the Past, Present, and Future: Practical Guidelines for Electronic Records Access Programs


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Practical Guides (1)
Opening Gateways book cover
This Guide was originally published under the title of Opening Gateways: A Practical Guide for Designing Electronic Records Access Programs in 2000 and revised in 2002. Since it was issued, technological advances have given us a much broader array of tools and approaches to providing access to information. These advances have created a broader and in some ways more sophisticated community of potential users and stakeholders whose expectations of ease of access and immediacy of information have grown exponentially. These changes, combined with a social and political environment that demands public sector entities be more open and transparent in their operations, have put increased pressures on government to provide access to more and better information through readily accessible means such as the Internet.

This guide is designed to help government agencies develop affordable, manageable, and effective information access programs. Given the changing technological and social environment, the type of planning processes facilitated by this Guide are more relevant than ever. The revisions have focused on updating many of the examples provided and language used as well as including an expanded discussion of program models available due to technological advances.

Online Resources (1)
Opening Gateways book cover
Sat, 01 Dec 2003
The growing demand for information to be available in electronic form and for direct access to this information is changing the design and management of electronic information access programs. Programs are:

  • Increasingly focused on electronic rather than paper as the format desired by users.
  • Shifting from staff-supported access models to direct-user access models, now made possible over the Web.
Making a successful transition to increasingly user- and usage-focused programs requires careful assessment of any desired program in terms of:
  • the users
  • the uses
  • the content
  • the operation
  • the cost of a desired program.
This shift often requires program managers; the content experts, to join traditional information access professionals in a new way of working.

The Opening Gateways Guide and Workbench support this new way of working; they guide program managers and information access professionals in the creation of electronic information access programs that are effective, manageable, and affordable. They provide a framework for a design team to account for the specifics of the environment within which a program will exist.

Taking the environment into account in the design of electronic information access programs is a human process. The Gateways Guide and Workbench are not intended to replace that process, but to support it through a cycle of individual effort, group discussion, and integration of the best ideas from the group. This process depends on project managers who are skilled at cultivating individual commitment and group process and participants who have a stake in the outcome. The Workbench supports this process by organizing and sharing the information needed to reach a sound design. Together, the Guide and the Workbench provide a process and an analytical framework to ensure that a design team is able to focus on the complexity of information access program design.

The Opening Gateways Guide is a paper and a web based document that presents a strategy for designing electronic information access programs. The Guide presents a set of analytical tools to help groups of people as they collaborate on the design of electronic records access programs.

The Gateways Online Workbench is provided as a companion piece to the Guide. It is an interactive version of the Guide enhanced with features that support groups of people as they collaborate on the development of electronic information access programs. The Workbench design supports this group process by allowing multiple users to capture individual ideas and to contribute to group efforts through the Workbench’s collaboration features.

Reports (1)
Effective Strategies Cover
This current practices research report identifies and describes exemplary practices in providing electronic access to information. It includes an examination of the professional academic literature, a review of Web-based resources, and a study of best practices in selected organizations.

Journal Articles and Conference Papers (1)
Journal Article Cover
Sharon S. Dawes, Theresa A. Pardo, and Anthony M. Cresswell
Government Information Quarterly, Mon, 13 Dec 2003, >Download PDF
That electronic government information repositories are growing in number, use, and diversity is one manifestation of the emergence of e-government. These information-centered programs both shape and respond to user demand for electronic government information as computer-mediated user access has displaced traditional staff-mediated access. These programs are no longer concentrated in statistical agencies but increasingly are offered by a wide array of mission-driven operating agencies to complement their other services. This study identified the design dimensions of electronic information access programs by examining mature existing programs. These dimensions address users, uses, organizational capabilities, data characteristics, and technology. The study then explored the application and interdependence of these dimensions in three efforts to design and develop new access programs. The study produced an empirically based, testable model of observable dimensions that shape the cost, complexity, and potential performance of these programs. In addition, the article offers government managers some insight into the practical implications they will face in designing and operating electronic information access programs.