NARA narrows e-records competition to Harris, Lockheed Martin

U.S. Archivist John Carlin

Over the next 12 months, the National Archives and Records Administration will choose a system costing up to $500 million to manage the federal government's digital records.

The massive Electronic Records Archive project will handle more than 1 billion Defense Department personnel files and at least 600 million Census Bureau records.

Once an architecture is chosen, NARA wants to launch initial operating capability by 2007 and have full functionality by 2011.

'Mark my words, the ERA will change the world as we know it,' U.S. archivist John Carlin said earlier this month at a Washington news conference. 'More and more of our records are created and must be maintained in electronic format. It poses challenges that have never been taken on by a government agency before.'

NARA officials will evaluate system designs and prototypes from Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Fla., and Lockheed Martin Corp., choosing one for the government's electronic records by August 2005. The agency pared the competition down to Harris and Lockheed after more than six months of evaluating vendor proposals and three years of developing the system requirements.

'We believe that having two companies compete in this first phase will optimize the system design,' Carlin said. 'They will hone their architectural insights on what the complete ERA should look like and what specific tools should go into it.'

Harris will receive $10.6 million and Lockheed Martin $9.5 million in the first year for design and prototyping. The two beat out IBM Corp. in the final competition, which required submitting a system architecture, demonstrating technical knowledge of records management and showing past success at delivering large-scale projects on schedule and on time, Carlin said.

Harris' team includes Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. of McLean, Va.; CACI International Inc. of Arlington, Va.; and Information Manufacturing Corp. of Rocket Center, W.Va.

Lockheed Martin's team includes BearingPoint Inc. of McLean, Va.; EDS Corp.; Fenestra Technologies Corp. of Germantown, Md.; History Associates Inc. of Rockville, Md.; Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego; and Tessella Inc. of Newton, Mass.

The design must not rely on specific hardware or software and must guarantee authenticity of records forever, said Kenneth Thibodeau, director of the ERA program.

'Harris and Lockheed did a more thorough and convincing job of transferring our needs into a design,' Thibodeau said. Both systems are based on a service-oriented architecture, he said.

Harris ERA program manger Karen Knockel said her company's architecture places all archival functions in the top business layers.

'We tried to define NARA's business processes and then map them to the functions,' Knockel said. 'One of NARA's key requirements was for the architecture to evolve over time. That is technically tricky because of data format and application changes.' Harris' design will mix commercial software and customized applications.

Lockheed Martin's architecture is segmented to correspond to the archival functions, said Tom Kelley, Lockheed's NARA engagement manager. He said the architecture separates these major functions:

  • Accepting records from the originating agency, developing metadata and preparing records for storage


  • Archiving and storing records


  • Disseminating records to the public.


  • 'This is a large and complex effort that will evolve over the coming year and years to come,' Kelley said.
    NARA set a May 2005 deadline for the system design. By June the companies must have prototypes to demonstrate functionality.

    Thibodeau said the prototypes will interface with agencies to bring in records and to let agencies retrieve records and conduct other NARA business on a small scale.

    The Defense and Energy departments as well as the Army surgeon general and other agencies will test the prototypes.

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