Associate Director, University of California Curation Center
California Digital Library
Digital preservation and curation are rapidly maturing disciplines, able to draw on an increasingly rich set of community best practices, tools, and service providers to ensure the long-term viability and value of the digital assets that thoroughly pervade all aspects of contemporary culture, commerce, science, education, and entertainment. In many ways, however, the most significant risk to that long-term viability is financial, rather than technical. Unlike the conservation of analog materials, the effective preservation of digital resources necessitates ongoing and proactive intervention, and any interruption in these activities could result in irretrievable data loss. In an era of severe budgetary constraints, however, many institutions are finding it difficult to identity and dedicate ongoing funding streams in support of long-term preservation efforts.
To address this concern, the University of California Curation Center (UC3) at the California Digital Library (CDL) has developed a comprehensive cost model for long-term preservation, known as the “Total Cost of Preservation” or TCP model, that can be applied on either a “pay as you go” (PAYG) or a “paid-up” or “pay once, preserve-forever” (POPF) basis. The latter is particularly useful for data produced as research outputs of grant-funded projects. In the absence of a paid-up option, the status of project outputs often becomes problematic when project funding ceases. The TCP model is capable of representing the full economic costs of long-term preservation, but it can be easily customized to consider only specific subsets of those costs as determined by local policy. The POPF option was derived using a standard economic forecasting technique, discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis.
This briefing will review prior work on preservation cost modeling (including the CMDP, DataSpace, KRDS, and LIFE projects), define the conceptual model underlying the UC3 analysis, summarize the derivation of the relevant cost equations, address some specific shortcomings introduced by the reliance on the DCF technique, and illustrate the application of the model in its PAYG and POPF forms.