Advisory Committee on Electronic Records Archive Meeting

The Advisory Committee on the Electronic Records Archives (ACERA) met in Washington on April 29 & 30, 2009. ACERA advises the Archivist of the United States on technical, mission, and service issues related to NARA’s Electronic Records Archive (ERA) project.

Dr. Kenneth Thibodeau, Program Director for the ERA Program Management Office provided a report on the current status of the ERA project.

Thibodeau began by discussing the recent transfer of records from the Bush administration to NARA on January 20, 2009. He stated that all of the Bush electronic records have been transferred to NARA’s custody although not all of them have yet been transferred to the ERA’s main facility in West Virginia. Some are still in storage on the Executive Office of the President (EOP) servers until the technical and virus issues that are holding up the transfer are resolved. For example, several sets of records were not transferred in the formats previously agreed to by NARA and the EOP.

Thibodeau reported that NARA had received “excellent cooperation” from the out-going Bush administration throughout the transfer. The records were indexed as they came in using a “Fast Search” tool.

Thibodeau said they estimate that the Bush administration will have generated between 100—150 terabytes of electronic records. This is about 100 X the amount of electronic records generated during the Clinton administration. However, it is expected that there will be significantly less paper records from the Bush administration. A web snapshot of the White House’s website was taken on January 20 before President Bush left office and is accessible on the Bush Library Foundation’s website.

Director Thibodeau then gave a status report on the rollout of the ERA system. Four federal agencies have been participating in the initial implementation phase that began in June 2008 and will end in June 2009. An “invitational phase” will be in place from this June until February 2010 as NARA adds additional agencies by invitation only. The “voluntary phase” will run from February 2010 until December 2010 and in January 2011 use of the system will be mandatory for all agencies.

Although NARA had difficulties with Lockheed Martin, Corporation during development of the system, it is expected to be fully operational by the January 2011 deadline.

Congress provided the ERA program with an additional $9 million in funding in fiscal year (FY) 2009 up to a level of $67 million. The Government Accountability Office is scheduled to report to Congress on the status of the ERA project and the outcome of that may affect funding for FY ’10.