NARA's plan for archival system lacks detail, GAO says

NARA's plan for archival system lacks detail, GAO says

The National Archives and Records Administration is missing key elements in its plan to build an advanced electronic archiving system, the General Accounting Office has reported.

NARA's sketchy plans for the Electronic Records Archives system could put the system at risk of failure over the long haul, congressional auditors said on Friday.

The agency has failed to submit a complete description of ERA, estimated costs or set a schedule for the system's development, the GAO report said.

Through the ERA project, NARA wants to provide permanent access to federal records regardless of their originating platform. To launch the system in late 2006, the agency has said it will issue a request for proposals by January and award a contract next summer [link to related story].

'If NARA cannot track how well the program is meeting cost and schedule,' GAO said, 'the risk is increased that funds may not be used efficiently or effectively, quality problems may limit the usefulness of the resulting system, and the system may not be delivered according to established milestones.'

GAO suggested that the agency's CIO revise key planning documents and develop a cost-based schedule for ERA.

NARA acknowledged that the program has some weaknesses, but the agency is addressing them.

'We have under way a large effort to develop a detailed work breakdown structure and cost and schedule baselines for the program,' archivist John W. Carlin noted in a written response to GAO's findings. 'We expect to have those baselines in place by September 2003.'

To read Records Management: National Archives and Records Administration's Acquisition of Major System Faces Risks online, click on GAO report.

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