NARA finishes e-archive project, chooses IBM to maintain system

The National Archives and Records Administration has closed the book on development of the Electronic Records Archives -- for now.

The National Archives and Records Administration has finished development of the Electronic Records Archives and hired IBM to operate and maintain the system, the agency announced.

The contract award marks the end of the development phase of the10-year project, which has been troubled by major schedule delays and cost overruns. Because of the problems, NARA officials agreed with a recommendation from the Office of Management and Budget to end development of the digital archive by Sept. 30.

The value of the IBM contract is $243 million over 10 years, if all options are exercised, said David Lake, a NARA spokesman. The contract is for one base year with nine one-year options.


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In a Sept. 29 news release, NARA officials said completing ERA's development phase was “the achievement of a significant goal” and the system would continue to evolve.

“We look forward to working with IBM to ensure the continued operation of our ERA system and to provide for its evolution as we adapt to emerging needs and inevitable changes in technology and software,” said Michael Wash, NARA's CIO, in the release.

ERA was designed to collect and preserve electronic records created by federal agencies, the White House and Congress and create searchable online access to those records.

NARA awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin in 2005 to provide a permanent archive for digitized official records, with initial operating capability achieved in December 2008. The ERA project was originally projected to cost about $500 million, but the Government Accountability Office said earlier this year that the cost could rise as high as $1.4 billion.

IBM will perform its operations and maintenance work in Gaithersburg and College Park, Md.

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