NARA seeks money for improving e-storage

Budget of the United States Government Fiscal Year 2001

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In 2001, the National Archives and Records Administration plans to begin building an electronic archiving system that will reliably store electronic records and eventually eliminate the need to save paper copies of electronic documents.

The recordkeeping agency is asking Congress to include $563,000 in the 2001 budget to begin a multi-year system development project, said Reynolds Cahoon, NARA's chief information officer. At present, the agency prints paper copies of electronic records such as e-mail messages, text files and spreadsheets, and stores them. But electronic storage is improving rapidly, and "once we have confidence" those electronic records can be stored and retrieved dependably, paper copies will be unnecessary, he said.

NARA also is asking Congress for $340,000 in 2001 to hire personnel to assemble and operate a "limited" electronic records system. "This is a very promising beginning" to a project that is expected to take five years or more, Cahoon said. More personnel hires and more spending on electronic records maintenance hardware are planned for in the 2002 budget, he said.

The 2001 budget request includes:

* $3 million to replace and upgrade NARA computers and to hire systems managers at agency sites across the country.

* $1.5 million to improve the agency's phone system.

Overall, NARA requested $308 million for 2001, up from $231 million approved by Congress in 2000. But nearly a third of the 2001 total — $93 million — is intended to pay for improvements to buildings, including an $88 million renovation of the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.

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