The survey of SHPOs concerning archeological report bibliographic systems elicited some important comments on the proposed online data entry system for NADB-Reports. Some of the concerns are similar to those addressed in Appendix A and will not be repeated here. Other reservations and issues are bolded below followed by a brief response.
SHPOs have several years of backlogged reports.
Due to budget cuts and staff reductions, many SHPOs are experiencing this problem. A growing backlog of records needing entry into the database is also a problem for NADB-R since AEP has not regularly updated the database for similar reasons. One advantage to a NADB-R online data entry system would be the ability of CRM firms to input their SHPO-approved, backlogged reports that are not yet been entered into the SHPO bibliographic database. This may relieve part of the workload of some SHPOs to do backlog data entry themselves.
NADB-R would impose extreme workload difficulties for those staffs already over-extended and under-funded, and it would not save time.
The NADB-R online data entry module has the potential, in fact, do the opposite. A CRM firm that wrote a report and knows its contents fully would be able to enter bibliographic data with ease and efficiency, thereby saving the SHPO from having to do this work. Although the SHPO would still have to review, possibly edit, and submit each record entered by a CRM firm, review is much easier than data entry. The ability to download the submitted record to the local NADB-R database used by the SHPO would also save time and resources. Also, the use of picklists for fields such as keywords and worktypes in both the data entry system and the new NADB-R database in Access would facilitate data entry.
SHPOs would have to spend a considerable amount of work reviewing and authorizing the reports submitted online by consultants.
Consultants or CR firms would only submit online the bibliographic information about a report, not the report itself. Furthermore, guidance on data entry would emphasize the need to only enter information about SHPO approved reports, not draft reports. The current SHPO process of reviewing, commenting, and/or approving an actual archeological report would not change.
What happens if a SHPO does not have time to review the bibliographic records of reports submitted online?
The current idea is that each SHPO would be notified once a month about the number of bibliographic records awaiting approval and submission into the online system. After three months, if records submitted by a CRM firm are not reviewed and submitted by a SHPO, the records would be automatically uploaded into the online NADB-R searchable database. Each record handled this way, however, would be clearly marked to indicate it was not reviewed and submitted by a SHPO.
Tribal issues are a concern.
An important tribal issue related to archeological reports is the possible disclosure of archeological site locations. This is an issue for every person concerned about the protection and preservation of archeological sites. The searchable NADB-R database does not provide any specific locational information, such as UTMs, Section, Township, or Range. The database may only be searched by state and county. The online data entry system and the NADB-R Access-based application used by SHPOs, however, do allow the entry of such locational information. This was done to facilitate linking SHPO bibliographic records to sites on a GIS platform, when desired. Reports sent to and approved by SHPOs are public record and thus available for use by those with a legitimate research need. Site location is only revealed via NADB-R or a similar bibliographic system when it is used in a SHPO office by a qualified researcher or contractor.
There may be numerous duplication problems in California since NADB-R responsibilities have been subcontracted out to 12 Information Centers (ICs).
The ICs act like individual SHPOs in other parts of the country regarding the maintenance of bibliographic information about the gray literature pertaining to their designated region. Thus, there should not be any duplication of the reports entered into NADB-R by each IC, unless an archeological investigation crossed more than one region. The ICs presumably have already worked out a process to handle this situation. Also, the CRM firms are presumably familiar with the ICs and know to whom reports must be sent for approval and subsequent entry into their bibliographic database. If this is not true, AEP needs to be notified about the correct procedures.
The word “draft” would have to be noted in titles that are entered into NADB-R until the final report is received and approved.
Guidance for the online system will state that only final reports should be entered into NADB-R. If a draft report is entered for a special reason, it must be well marked as “Draft” in the title.
Who would be responsible for correcting the errors in NADB-R?
Guidance for the online data entry system will stress that every effort should be made to enter error-free information. If any errors do occur, the SHPO will have final authority to correct them. Some additional checks also will be put in place in the NADB-R database at the University of Arkansas.
AEP may have more success in approaching agencies about online NADB-R data entry and verification.
Partnerships with the SHPOs were set up at the inception of NADB-R because of the SHPOs’ duties to review archeological activities in their state and, for many, review and approve project reports. Most SHPOs are also repositories for the gray literature reports and are where project planning and research is conducted by contractors and researchers. Although some federal agencies have a bibliographic database of their archeological reports, this information should be a duplication of the much richer information held by the SHPOs about activities on state, tribal, local, private, and federal land.
An online system needs lots of built-in safeguards.
The NADB-R online data entry system will have secure password protection so that only a limited number of registrants may access the system. The database managers will have some ability to monitor use to make sure that no unauthorized users are in the system. Site locational information entered online only for SHPO use will be carefully guarded and monitored. No locational information other than state and county will be available on the public, searchable NADB-R database.
It is doubtful that CRM firms will enter bibliographic data into NADB-R. Expect there will be marginal benefits if there is an uneven representation of reports from CRM firms. How many firms would be willing to enter reports online? Will they enter information about a report that has been rejected by the SHPO?
AEP staff members have talked to staff at some CRM firms about the idea of an online data entry system for NADB-R, including a discussion at the 2003 American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA) annual conference. In general, there has been enthusiastic response to the idea. Of course, there are many small firms, including ones with only one or two employees, which may not be able to do this work due to various constraints. Thus, there will be uneven representation of CRM firms. Although SHPOs will have to fill in the gaps, hopefully this will involve much less data entry for the SHPOs when all the system components are in place. Also, AEP intends to work closely with organizations such as ACRA, the Society for American Archeology, and the Register of Professional Archaeologists, to advocate the benefits of doing the online data entry of SHPO approved reports. For the CRM firms, it will make the results of research efforts better known to other firms and to government agencies, which will minimize future duplication of effort. For the SHPOs, it will reduce their NADB-R workload and free up time for other duties. Guidance for the NADB-R data entry system will explicitly say to only enter reports that have already been approved by a SHPO.
Minor or negative surveys should not be in NADB-R. These are considered difficult and repetitive for consultants.
The goal of NADB-R is to provide basic information about as much of the archeological gray literature in the United States as possible. This is done to eliminate unnecessary redundancy in planning and performing archeological activities (e.g., redoing work in an area because previous work was unknown) and to efficiently share archeological information. The gray literature includes letter reports, minor survey reports, and negative survey reports, as well as dissertations, Masters theses, and conference papers. Negative survey reports are critical to inform future project planners and researchers about areas where work was completed but no archeological resources were found. If these reports are not known and accessible, the same land could be surveyed a number of times. Again, the goal of NADB-R is to provide an important first step in meeting a researcher’s requirements for project planning and other needs.