Statement by Archivist David S. Ferriero on ERA
Press Release · Monday, August 23, 2010

I became Archivist of the United States ten months ago knowing that preserving electronic records is the most important challenge that the National Archives faces. I embrace this challenge.

For the last decade, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has been leading the effort in research and development of preservation of electronic records. It has also been developing a system designed to preserve and manage NARA’s electronic records. This system is the Electronic Records Archives (ERA).

While the system is still under development, it has been operational since 2008 and is currently the archival repository for more than 82.4 terabytes of electronic records, the majority of which are from the Executive Office of the President. The volume to date is equivalent to about 20.5 billion pages of text.

The White House announced today that NARA's ERA program is included in the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB's) list of 26 High Priority IT Investments from 14 Federal agencies. We welcome the priority attention that the Federal CIO is giving ERA as it nears the completion of its development.

I share the CIO's concern that a relatively small number of Federal agencies are currently using the system. Contingent on FY 2011 appropriation of funds for the remaining development, NARA anticipates that by mid-2011, the system will be ready for use by all agencies and that by the summer of 2012 use of ERA will be required for all Federal agencies to transfer their permanent electronic records to the National Archives.

NARA has been working collaboratively with OMB on this issue and is developing a Program Improvement Plan for the ERA program. This plan will call for completion of ERA development by September of 2011 and the development of a metric that measures the volume of Presidential, Federal, and Congressional records in the system. We intend to continue to refine and improve the system to maximize the number of records that are stored in the system and to make those records available to the public as soon as possible.

I am therefore pleased that the CIO is giving this project his priority attention with the aim of creating a sense of urgency for getting all Federal agencies to begin using the ERA. Indeed the ERA is at risk if we build it and agencies don’t use it.

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