Sunday, December 26, 2010

80 TB of presidential records

Here's a not-surprising-but-nonetheless-mind-boggling snippet of news: the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) reports that it has received approximately 80 terabytes of electronic records generated by President George W. Bush and his staff. As if this weren't astounding enough, consider these other facts:
  • The transfer of the Bush records marks the first time that NARA has received more electronic than paper records from a presidential administration.
  • If printed out, the Bush administration's e-mail -- which makes up a fraction of the electronic records transferred to NARA -- would comprise approximately 600 million sheets of paper. NARA estimates that all of the other presidential libraries that it administers hold a combined total of roughly 550 to 580 million sheets of paper records.
Is your head spinning yet? If not, just start contemplating the volume of electronic records that NARA will likely receive from the Obama administration.

The Bush administration records, which have been ingested into NARA's Electronic Records Archives (ERA) system, won't be fully processed for quite some time, but archivists are busy preparing for an anticipated deluge of researcher requests in January 2014, when some of the records will become accessible under the provisions of the federal Freedom of Information Act.

By the way, NARA and the federal Office of Management and Budget are halting further development of the ERA system earlier than planned. NARA will focus instead on getting federal agencies to use ERA and may "recompete" the operation and maintenance components of its contract with Lockheed Martin, which built the system. Interesting.

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