About Committee on Best Practice & Standards

Best Practices and Standards 

Under the direction of the Programme Commission (PCOM), the Committee on Best Practices and Standards (CBPS) serves as the professional home for the maintenance and development of standards and best practices and related activity within ICA. In the past attention was mainly concentrated on descriptive standards, but from 2004 onwards, the initiative was enlarged to encompass all those professional and related activities that would benefit from the development of standards and best practices, including, for example, appraisal, legislation, dictionaries, Archipaedia, archives buildings, etc.


The objectives of the CBPS are:

- to encourage and facilitate the development and implementation of best practices and standards,

- to manage the process by which standards are formally adopted by ICA,

- to support communication and exchange of information about best practices and standards and related implementation and training, and

- to provide liaison with other information professions such as IFLA, ARMA, ICOM and with international standards bodies.


How a standard is developed?

Standards are developed by experts working within a professional association or an archival institution. They can begin with an individual who has identified the need for a standard to inform or direct an aspect of archival practice. They are developed by other professions or they can be industry-driven.

Some standards are exclusively the domain of archivists such as description and appraisal. Others are shared with related professions, such as information management, while others are of a more universal nature, such as privacy and access. Some best practices and standards may be needed or applicable in one country and not in another, or in one type of archives and not another.

CBPS may also become involved in developing standards for archival practice or the archival profession by establishing working groups to develop standards they recognize as priorities. CBPS may also become involved by:

- responding to proposals for standards development,

- monitoring standards-related activity that may be the outcome of projects presented to PCOM, or of ICA Sections and Regional Branches and or of archival professional associations and archives,

- responding to requests for ICA endorsement of standards, and

- initiating partnerships with other professions.


How standards are endorsed ?

CBPS receives or requests documentation demonstrating openness in the standards development process and balance of various interests in the make up of the group that developed the standard, as well as proof of public review, comment and incorporation of comments as appropriate. Process for developing and endorsing a standard.]

CPBS recommends acceptance of the standard to the PCOM forwarding the documentation outlined above. PCOM recommends formal endorsement by the Executive Board.


How Best Practices are developed and accepted?

Best practices are developed in the same way and by the same groups and individuals as those outlined above in regard to standards development. They come to the attention of CBPS in the same way. If they are deemed to be of benefit to the archival profession, they are entered in the Database of Standards. They serve as guides or models.


Current ICA Best Practices and Standards

Currently the following Best Practices and Standards are available on ICA's website. New materials are uploaded to the website regularly. [ISAD(G), ISAAR(CPF), ISDF, ISDIAH ]


Best practices are techniques or methodologies that, through experience and/or research, have proven to reliably lead to a desired result. Standards are guidelines that reflect agreement on products, practices, or operations by nationally or internationally recognized industrial, professional, trade association or governmental bodies.