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Suggested Citation:"What Is CSTB?." National Research Council. 2003. Building an Electronic Records Archive at the National Archives and Records Administration: Recommendations for Initial Development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10707.

What Is CSTB?

The Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) was established in 1986 as a part of the National Research Council to provide independent advice to the nation on technical and public policy issues relating to computing and communications. Composed of leaders from industry and academia, CSTB conducts studies of critical national issues and makes recommendations to government, industry, and academia. CSTB also provides a neutral meeting ground for consideration of complex issues where resolution and action may be premature. It convenes discussions that bring together principals from the public and private sectors, assuring consideration of key perspectives. The majority of CSTB’s work is requested by federal agencies and Congress, consistent with its National Academies context.

A pioneer in framing and analyzing Internet policy issues, CSTB is unique in its comprehensive scope and effective, interdisciplinary appraisal of technical, economic, social, and policy issues. Cybersecurity, critical infrastructure protection, and the trustworthiness of information systems have been cross-cutting themes in CSTB’s work. Several of its reports have become classics in the field, and CSTB continues to address these topics as they grow in importance. Its program on information technology and society has explored such topics as nationwide identity systems and the use of the Internet under crisis conditions. CSTB has also assessed and recommended enhanced IT strategies for a number of agencies of the federal government.

To do its work, CSTB draws on some of the best minds in the country and from around the world, inviting experts to participate in its projects as a public service. Studies are conducted by balanced committees whose members have no direct financial interests in the topics they are addressing. Those committees meet, confer electronically, and build analyses through their deliberations. Additional expertise is tapped in a rigorous process of review and critique, further enhancing the quality of CSTB reports. By engaging groups of principals, CSTB gets the facts and insights critical to assessing key issues.

The mission of CSTB is to

  • Respond to requests from the government, nonprofit organizations, and private industry for advice on computer and telecommunications issues and from the government for advice on computer and telecommunications systems planning, utilization, and modernization;

  • Monitor and promote the health of computer science and telecommunications, with attention to issues of human resources, information infrastructure, and societal impacts;

  • Initiate and conduct studies that treat computer science, technology, and telecommunications as critical resources; and

  • Foster interaction among the disciplines underlying computing and telecommunications technologies and other fields, at large and within the National Academies.

CSTB projects address a diverse range of topics affected by the evolution of information technology. Completed reports include Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity; Who Goes There? Authentication Through the Lens of Privacy; Information Technology for Counterterrorism: Immediate Actions and Future Possibilities; Cybersecurity Today and Tomorrow: Pay Now or Pay Later; Youth, Pornography, and the Internet; Broadband: Bringing Home the Bits; LC21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress; and The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age. For further information about CSTB reports and active projects, see <>.

Suggested Citation:"What Is CSTB?." National Research Council. 2003. Building an Electronic Records Archive at the National Archives and Records Administration: Recommendations for Initial Development. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10707.
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Like its constituent agencies and other organizations, the federal government generates and increasingly saves a large and growing fraction of its records in electronic form. Recognizing the greater and greater importance of these electronic records for its mission of preserving "essential evidence," the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) launched a major new initiative, the Electronic Records Archives (ERA). NARA plans to commence the initial procurement for a production-quality ERA in 2003 and has started a process of defining the desired capabilities and requirements for the system.

As part of its preparations for an initial ERA procurement, NARA asked the National Academies' Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) to provide independent technical advice on the design of an electronic records archive, including an assessment of how work sponsored by NARA at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) helps inform the ERA design and what key issues should be considered in ERA's design and operation.Building an Electronic Records Archie at the National Archives and Records Administration provides preliminary feedback to NARA on lessons it should take from the SDSC work and identifies key ERA design issues that should be addressed as the ERA procurement process proceeds in 2003.

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