GAO finds flaws in ERA acquisitions

A Government Accountability Office report has found that planning for the National Archives and Records Administration's Electronic Records Archives is on track as far as staffing, enterprise architecture and information security.

"The initial planning phase is completed," said Linda Koontz, GAO's director of information management issues.

NARA officials are making less progress in addressing GAO's recommendation to revise acquisition policies and plans to meet relevant industry standards.

"Making program policies and plans compliant before contract award is important to ensure that the agency has the information it needs to manage the acquisition and that the contractors have sufficient information on which to base the design of the system," the report stated.

GAO officials recommend that the Archivist direct the ERA program director to design and implement a process to ensure that recommendations from contractor reviews are addressed and incorporated into program policies and plans.

Design awards for teams led by Lockheed Martin Corp.'s transportation and security solutions division and Harris Corp.'s Government Communications Systems division were announced at $9.5 million and $10.6 million, respectively. Federal officials hope that electronic archiving will extend beyond government to make it possible for doctors to quickly access health records, for example.

Accessible to government officials and the public, ERA will be a dynamic system for preserving virtually any electronic record.

NARA officials are supposed to have an operational archive based on one of the two teams' designs by 2007. They expect full development of the system to cost $500 million by its completion in 2011.

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