The Record - September 1998

National Archives Joins in Electronic Records Partnership

The National Archives and Records Administration has entered into a partnership with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in an initiative known as the Distributed Object Computation Testbed (DOCT). This major research and development project will use the power of supercomputers to test records life-cycle management solutions for large quantities of data.

"All agencies need to address the challenge of life-cycle management of records in an automated environment," said Archivist of the United States John Carlin. "This is a great opportunity to apply information technology to improve both internal processes and services to customers. We are interested in whether the technical approaches explored in the DOCT project could have wide applicability across the Federal government in managing records as well as specific applicability within NARA in addressing some of the challenges of archival preservation and access to electronic records."

NARA expects its involvement in this partnership to help solve its critical need to develop better ways to preserve historically valuable electronic records of the Federal government. The quantity of electronic Federal records is growing exponentially. While all of the electronic records accessioned into the National Archives since 1972 amount to less than 100,000 files, NARA expects to receive tens of millions of files in the next few years. NARA's current system for preserving electronic records cannot process this expected growth. The DOCT testbed at the San Diego Supercomputer Center provides an infrastructure on which to test advanced technologies for the preservation of electronic records.

NARA's involvement in DOCT is one of several strategic partnerships it has formed to address the challenges of managing electronic records. For more information about NARA's records management initiatives, visit NARA's home page at or contact NARA's Modern Records Program at 301-713-7100.