Archiving Constituent Services Data of the U.S. Congress: A Report of the CSS/CMS Task Force

The Congressional Papers Section formed the CSS/CMS Task Force in August 2016, and the Task Force has pulled together the most comprehensive report to date about archiving Constituent Services Systems (CSS) in the Senate and Correspondence Management Systems (CMS) in the House of Representatives.

The report, released on November 15, 2017, provides an overview of how CSS and CMS developed over time, which vendors and systems are currently in use, how systems are deployed in congressional offices, and how data is transferred and exported. It looks at the common obstacles faced by archives and libraries that receive the data and the ways in which archivists have been trying to address these challenges. It also provides a list of academic work that has relied on analog constituent correspondence, while noting the vast potential for research, both inside and outside the academy, with constituent data.

The report provides guidance for short- and long-term management and preservation in collecting repositories. The short-term guidelines provide instructions for conversations with congressional offices about constituent data, as well as basic born-digital best practices to ensure data is stored safely. In the long-term, the report recommends a vested advocacy coalition to support management guidelines in member offices, in commercial vendors working with congressional offices, and in collecting repositories, and it calls on the community to develop a technological solution for processing, preserving, and providing access to constituent data that will benefit both large and small repositories.

2017_CSS_CMS_Report.pdf1.9 MB