Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Article: The Fading Memory of the State

This article in the MIT Technology Review details a problem we all know and tells how the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is attempting to fix it. Faced with digital records that are at risk, NARA hopes to find a solution to a growing problem.
...NARA has hired two contractors--Harris Corporation and Lockheed Martin--to attempt that miracle. The companies are scheduled to submit competing preliminary designs next month for a permanent Electronic Records Archives (ERA). According to NARA's specifications, the system must ultimately be able to absorb any of the 16,000 other software formats believed to be in use throughout the federal bureaucracy--and, at the same time, cope with any future changes in file-reading software and storage hardware. It must ensure that stored records are authentic, available online, and impervious to hacker or terrorist attack. While Congress has authorized $100 million and President Bush's 2006 budget proposes another $36 million, the total price tag is unknown. NARA hopes to roll out the system in stages between 2007 and 2011. If all goes well, Weinstein says, the agency "will have achieved the start of a technological breakthrough equivalent in our field to major 'crash programs' of an earlier era--our Manhattan Project, if you will, or our moon shot."
The article also talks about research activity that is occurring in this area.


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