NARA launches electronic records archives

The National Archives and Records Administration’s Electronic Records Archives (ERA) system — the agency’s decade-long $453 million project to create an electronic records archiving system — has reached its initial operating capability.

Officials had hoped the system would reach that point last year, but they had to push back the deadline and scale back its initial operating capabilities. However, officials still say that the program will still finish on time with full capabilities by 2011. The ERA, which NARA calls the “Archives of the Future,” will be able to handle preserve, manage and provide sustained access to all types of electronic records, independent of any specific type of software or hardware when completed.
 
During first phase that has come online, the new system will support the basic process of determining how long federal agencies need to keep records and whether the records should be preserved by NARA.

However, the 2007 delays also forced the agency and its contractor Lockheed Martin to develop a separate system — the so-called EOP system — which will be used to ingest the outgoing administrations electronic records when they are handed over to NARA in January. That system will eventually be incorporated into the ERA.

Government auditors have questioned whether the EOP system would be ready by January in time for the change in administrations . NARA recently told a Senate Subcommittee that it would be ready, but that the agency maintained a contingency plan.

NARA said it plans to begin moving millions of computer files into ERA in July, which will eventually be available online. The system will be open to the public in 2010, the agency said.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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