UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Washington, D.C. 20240
 
December 7, 2007
 
In Reply Refer To:
1270, 1275, 9600 (350/500) P
 
EMS TRANSMISSION 12/11/2007
Instruction Memorandum No. 2008-040
Expires: 09/30/2009
 
To:                  All State Directors
 
From:              Assistant Director, Minerals, Realty and Resource Protection
 
Subject:          Scanning Standards and Access for Permanent Title Records                            DD: 01/15/2008
 
Program Area:  Cadastral Survey, Lands, Realty (Land Status Records), and Records Management
 
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) documents the scanning standards and access procedures for all long-term, permanent land title records, survey plats, and field notes for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These records are defined by the BLM’s general records schedule.
 
Policy/Action:  In June 2004, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) finalized and issued its Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Archival Material for Electronic Access, which provides recommended image parameters and alternative minimums for developing raster images. The NARA preferred file format for master production is the Tagged Image File Format and can be found at: http://www.archives.gov/preservation/technical/guidelines.pdf.
 
The BLM, in managing for excellence, will adopt the NARA technical guideline standards imaging permanent records and work toward the goal of a single, consistent interface to public historical documents by using the existing BLM General Land Office (GLO) Records website. 
 
The technical guideline developed by the NARA will be used whenever permanent land title records as described by the NARA are scanned and digital images are created. These records, once scanned to NARA standards, will be made available through the BLM’s historical records website at: www.glorecords.blm.gov.

States that have previously scanned land title records should review the guidance provided by NARA for compliance. Those states that are in compliance with the NARA imaging standards should contact the BLM-Eastern States Office (ESO) to work out the details and cost estimates for migrating or linking their land title images to the GLO website. States that are considering scanning projects of land title records are strongly encouraged to work with BLM-ESO to determine how best to accomplish this work (i.e., in-house, contractors, in BLM-ESO, etc). The Idaho State Office and New Mexico State Office are currently working with the ESO under a Service Level Agreement (SLA) for the Cadastral plats and field notes.
 
In order to effectively develop an image transition or a future workload plan, States should identify those historical document images that meet or do not meet the NARA technical guidelines by January 15, 2008, to the contact listed below. States should provide the response in a table format listing the types of title documents, estimated number of records, file format, and resolution (see attachment) to capture the images.
 
Once responses have been received by the States, a Bureauwide strategy can be developed to determine how best to store the scanned records and also how to deal with those scanned records that do not meet the NARA standards. 
 
Timeframe: This IM is effective upon receipt.
 
Budget Impact: Irrespective of where scanning is conducted, there will be a cost to the BLM offices for scanning land title documents. Based on historical data, the least-cost option may be to enter into a SLA with the ESO scanning production facility in Springfield, Virginia. The ESO will provide a cost estimate to State Offices. The scanning equipment, expertise, and contracts with software and hardware providers are in place at the ESO. Thus, the cost to other State Offices would be labor to conduct the scanning and project-specific supplies required for the effort. States that use this facility will offset the cost of the SLA by not having to purchase scanning hardware and software.  Land title documents scanned at the ESO will be available through the GLO Records website without any additional effort or expense on the part of the States that have SLAs.
 
Background: At the Executive Leadership meeting in October 2006, a presentation was given on providing web access to various types of public land title records. This presentation identified at least 10 different known BLM websites (internal, external, or both) providing essentially the same types of land title documents.  This is inconsistent with the President’s Management Agenda EGov which calls for providing for a more consistent interface for our customers (the public), and providing one stop shopping.  This guidance should result in a consistent standard and one portal to access any State’s land records.
 
In December 2000, the BLM’s Director recognized the GLO Records Automation project at BLM-ESO as a national system by issuing Information Bulletin No. 2001-057. This document described the BLM’s obligation to preserve public land title records and improve access to them.  The GLO website, originally designed for the retrieval of patent data and images, has been expanded to include survey plats and field notes. To date, through the GLO website at www.glorecords.blm.gov, more than 7.8 million customers have generated 275 million website hits while requesting 134 million data and image requests.
 
In April 2003, the BLM arranged for an independent study of scanning operations throughout the BLM. The study, “Gap Analysis of Scanning Projects,” known as the Millican Report, provided valuable information on an estimated 80 scanning projects in various stages of production. The overall finding in the report is that the “BLM must use a consistent process for developing and executing scanning projects and those records designated as permanent need to comply with the standards being developed by the NARA.”
 
State Offices should continue all appropriate efforts to use electronic records as the official agency record.  Ultimately, permanent title records with electronic watermarks to address forgeries should be electronically generated, approved and revised.  These electronic official records will be linked or migrated to the GLO website.  
 
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: None.
 
Coordination: This IM was coordinated withBLM-ES, Washington Office Lands, Realty and Cadastral Survey (WO-350), and Washington Office IRM Policy and Records Group (WO-560). 
 
Contact: Policy questions concerning these standards should be directed to Don Buhler at (202) 452-7781; technical questions should be directed to John Butterfield at (703) 440-1696.
 
Signed by:                                                                   
Authenticated by:
Ray Brady                                                                   
Robert M. Williams
Acting, Assistant Director                                            
Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Minerals, Realty and Resource Protection
 
 
1 Attachment