Press/Journalists
Press Release
August 8, 2001
National Archives Announces Request for Qualified Candidates to Test Feasibility of Recovering Audio from the Nixon "18½Minute Gap" Tape

College Park, MD. . . Today, the National Archives and Records Administration published a "Request for Information" in the Commerce Business Daily requesting expressions of interest in participating in a project to assess the feasibility of attempting to recover erased audio program material from an 18.5 minute segment of the original "Nixon White House tape" 342.

For the next twelve months, the National Archives will evaluate proof of concept submissions from project participants to determine the feasibility of recovering of the erased audio recording segment of the original "Nixon tape" without damaging the original tape in any way.

This feasibility evaluation project will be organized as a sequence of three proof-of-concept tests. Each of the three tests will consist of a test tape to be recovered, each tape in the sequence being progressively more representative of the original recording. At the end of the 12-month period, if no one has completed the sequence of three test tapes, the National Archives will evaluate any results achieved and consider whether to extend the proof-of-concept test period for another 12 months. The National Archives will assess the feasibility of demonstrated recovery techniques and the potential risk to the original tape before a final decision is made to proceed with an attempt to recover the erased audio from original White House Tape 342. If a decision is made to proceed, a Request for Proposal (RFP) will be issued to any vendors who successfully completed each of the proof-of-concept test tapes without damaging those test tapes.

The test protocol will consist of a sequence of three test tapes recorded with signals and conversation known only to the National Archives evaluation team. Each succeeding inch test tape will more closely simulate the original recording in terms of signal levels, types of signals, type of tape, etc. After recording the test signals the tapes will be "erased" in the normal fashion on a properly operating recorder. Participants will have to recover all that is recorded on the test tapes without any evidence of damage to the test tape or the signal recorded on it. Identical test tapes will be provided to each candidate. The overall goal of this effort is recovery of intelligible speech on tape 342 that is similar to speech recorded before and after the "gap", not just speech like patterns or an indication that there was recorded material in the gap. This effort is not directed at traditional forensic investigation of the tape to determine authenticity, age, erasure status, etc. Those factors are not in question. The goal is recovery of intelligible speech.

Interested parties should contact Michael Hamilton, Supervisory Audiovisual Specialist, Nixon Presidential Materials Staff, for additional information: National Archives and Records Administration, 8601 Adelphi Road, Room 1320, College Park, MD 20740-6001; (301) 837-1786; michael.hamilton@nara.gov.

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail.

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