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NARA looks to PICARD for the next-generation enterprise

As the National Archives and Records Administration moves its holdings and operations to a fully electronic environment, it needs more flexibility and efficiency in delivering cloud services for managing federal records.

In a request for information, NARA said it is looking to frame the requirements and acquisition strategy for replacing its current Enterprise Cloud Contract.

The records agency envisions a Platform and Infrastructure for Cloud Archives and Records Depositories (PICARD) that would make it easier for federal agencies to transfer their records from various cloud platforms to the archives. Additionally, NARA wants to ensure it will be able to provide yet-unidentified future services offered by multiple cloud service providers (CSP) to its users.

Currently, NARA has all its cloud-based custom-developed production systems in the Amazon Web Services environment, including the Electronic Records Archives 2.0 system, National Archives Catalogue, Office of the Federal Register's Electronic Editing and Publishing System, cloud hosting for the Executive Office of the President and website hosting for the Presidential Library. NARA said it has an ongoing requirement for hosting these systems in the cloud.

Under PICARD, NARA would procure additional cloud services that would help it manage its own cloud operations for use cases including piloting services that are more advanced in one cloud than another, providing a location for mass backups and disaster recovery and helping agencies whose records are not in an AWS cloud move to NARA's production systems. It expects to have control of the CSP master accounts so it can implement organization-level controls and governance and wants to have access to real-time billing services.

In the RFI, NARA said it is considering a single award contract or blanket purchase agreement for a multi-cloud. If that is not feasible, it wants to contract with a single-cloud service provider through which it can obtain infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and software-as-a-service cloud services.

In June, the Office of Management and Budget issued guidance to agencies regarding their transition to electronic records in support of the President's Management Agenda.  It requires NARA to "provide clear standards for fully electronic recordkeeping, including electronic records storage, formats, and metadata, as well as transfer guidance" by Sept. 30, 2020.  That milestone is intended to ensure that agencies can meet another critical deadline --  Dec. 31, 2022 -- after which NARA will no longer accept "new transfers of permanent or temporary analog records" from agencies.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.

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