The United States Information Agency's (USIA) Bureau of Information and the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI) are working together on the design and implementation of a Foreign Affairs Documentation Center (FADC). This on-line, digital library will provide a long-term archive of noteworthy materials that comprise the foreign policy of the United States (with the exception of classified materials).
Documents in the FADC will come from departments and agencies of the U.S. government involved in foreign policy formulation. These materials are already being mounted by individual agencies on the World Wide Web or other on-line systems. The FADC will not duplicate these resources, but will provide coherent access to them, and guarantee the accuracy and authenticity of the texts. Guarantees of accuracy are of particular importance in policy documents, since major misunderstandings can result from minor changes of wording, inadvertent or deliberate.
The FADC will use standard World Wide Web browsers. Users will be able to search and explore the entire collection, retrieve specific documents, or be connected to the sites that are operated by the individual agencies. USIA and CNRI are designing the system so that it can be used at any of USIA's 200 posts around the world, or directly by any user who is connected to the Internet, with few requirements on computing equipment or network performance.
An important objective is to design the FADC so that it can be operated by a small USIA headquarters' staff. The effort required by agencies to contribute documents will be minimal, and the indexing and distribution services provided by USIA will be completely automatic.
The first phase of implementation will be carried out during the second half of 1997. During this phase, USIA and CNRI will develop a pilot system with materials from three or four federal agencies or departments. Technically the work involves identifying the collections, devising persistent names and an indexing scheme, implementing the registration process for documents, and developing methods for world wide delivery of authenticated documents.
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Updated: 20 Sep 01