Electronic Records funds approved

Congress approved an additional $22 million in the fiscal 2004 budget for the National Archives and Records Administration's ambitious Electronic Records Archives program. NARA will get $316.3 million, a $47.5 million increase from last year. The new budget includes $35.9 million for the electronic archives project, in addition to $13.7 million for repairs and renovations and $10 million for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The commission offers grants, training and research services to help preserve the nation's documentary resources.

The Electronic Records Archives project's goal is to protect the digital assets of government in the age of electronic mail and the World Wide Web.

NARA's budget was included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal 2004, which the Senate and the House have approved and President Bush is expected to sign.

Kenneth Thibodeau, director of the ERA program, welcomed the news. "Congress agreed to fund us at the full request of the president, which means we can go ahead with our program as planned," Thibodeau said today.

In the original Senate bill, legislators had cut $35.9 million from the program's original budget request. House and Senate conferees restored that amount, which represents a $22 million increase from last year's budget for the electronic archives program. The money will be used during the next three years to design a digital archives to ensure that the nation's electronic records remain accessible in the future.

Proposals from systems integrators interested in bidding on the ERA contract are now due Feb. 11. "We're hoping for an award in late spring," Thibodeau said

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