NARA's archives project needs more specifics, GAO says

The National Archives and Records Administration's effort to establish an electronic records archive is largely compliant with congressional requirements, although the agency needs to provide more detail about how it is spending money on the project, congressional auditors said.

In a new report, the Government Accountability Office said NARA must give Congress more details on its Electronic Records Archives project, so lawmakers can provide adequate oversight.

'NARA's expenditure plan does not contain the level and scope or information needed by Congress to understand the agency's plans and commitments relative to system capabilities, benefits, schedules and costs,' according to GAO's report. 'For example, it does not fully describe how the infrastructure elements that are to be procured will fit into the overall system design.'

NARA tapped Lockheed Martin Corp. last September to build the ERA system under a $308 million contract. The system will capture, maintain and make accessible the electronic records of the government, regardless of format, ensure hardware and software independence, and provide access to the public and government officials.

In its report, GAO said the project has met three of the six conditions placed on the project by congressional appropriators, and has partially met the remaining conditions.

Specifically, the agency has developed a program to improve information security; developed and implemented a document review program; and, improved federal records management by raising other agencies' awareness of the system, GAO said.

But the agency has not established a review board to ensure that ERA's enterprise architecture conforms with other agency IT projects, nor has it appointed a group to regularly oversee capital planning and investment control for ERA and other programs, GAO said.

Allen Weinstein, archivist of the United States, told GAO that he agreed with the report's recommendations and has already submitted a plan to Congress to address these concerns.

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