1997-11

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This report represents the “end of the beginning” of a multi-year project to computerize archaeological and historical site files for the state of Arizona. The AZSITE consortium, which has undertaken this project, was formed in 1995 by a memorandum of agreement signed by the Arizona State Museum, the Archaeological Research Institute at Arizona State University, the Museum of Northern Arizona, and the State Historic Preservation Office. The State Land Department and the Arizona State Office of the BLM have been active participants from the beginning.

In December, 1995, as its first interagency collaboration, the consortium applied to the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training for a planning grant. Under the terms of that grant, the consortium undertook three objectives: a needs assessment, a planning phase, and development of additional funding proposals. All three objectives were directed toward meeting the consortium’s goals of establishing a computerized cultural resource database for the state and making it available electronically to authorized users. Using the NCPTT grant, the consortium has systematically planned and implemented a centralized archaeological site and survey database and systematically solicited advice and support from other concerned agencies in Arizona. It may be that, in terms of agencies and personnel involved, if not actual dollars spent, the AZSTTE project is one of the largest collaborative cultural resource management projects yet undertaken in Arizona.

1997-11

Through funding provided by NCPU, the consortium has held a series of meetings involving members of the consortium as well as federal and state land managers, tribal representatives and private contrast firms. As a result of these meetings, the database has been developed and modified and is currently in use at ASM and ASU. Over the course of the coming year, the remaining two consortium members, SHPO and MNA, will be networked to the system and all four consortium members will work to refine the process, incorporate each agency’s backlog of non-computerized paper records into the system, and implement a plan to make the database available to authorized users over an internet server. Additionally, over the course of the next two years, the consortium plans to work with several federal and state agencies to incorporate these agencies’ records. As proposed in the NCPTT grant, the consortium has already prepared and submitted funding proposals to help us accomplish these goals.

It is clear from the needs assessment portion of the project that, with few exceptions, every site files repository has a mix of computerized and non-computerized records and that planning a computer system in the absence of a plan to computerize paper records is only half the project. Only one agency had survey data in digital form to be imported directly into AZSITE. It is also clear that there is a wide range of computer literacy present in Arizona’s archaeological community. To make this project succeed the AZSTTE consortium will need to concern itself with the actual desktop implementation of the database in the offices of the various federal, state and tribal agencies involved if these agencies are to gain the fullest benefit of this project.

Few, if any, other states have needed to solicit public support and participation as Arizona has and this process has introduced certain complications of its own. Public discussion of the content and uses of archaeological and historical site files has raised many questions concerning ownership of information and rights of access to that information that will take some time to resolve in a manner satisfactory to all participants. It is undoubtedly true, however, that given current funding options, the fact that this was done as a collaborative partnership among state, federal, tribal and private agencies has been a major factor in the consortium’s ability to generate funding from state and federal agencies. The products of the NCPTT planning grant have already produced tangible results in the form of pilot project funding from the Arizona Heritage Funds, as well as a grant from the Federal Geographic Data Committee.

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