Much of the US government's digital data from the late 20th and 21st centuries will be lost unless a system is developed to save and store it properly, says Reynolds Cahoon, the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) assistant archivist and chief information officer. Vital digital materials are being lost every day, and the cost of the losses is unknown and unknowable.
In 1970, the National Archives only had seven megabytes of electronic information, the equivalent of about 7 thousand e-mails or 140 two-page documents. The amount of data agencies are asking NARA to store is growing exponentially: Officials estimate the agency will receive the equivalent of 10.6 trillion two-page electronic documents to store in the year 2022 alone.
According to an article in the Federal Times, every program that relies on federal records: a veteran’s ability to get benefits, a doctor’s ability to access patients’ digital medical records, a retiree’s Social Security benefits, the safety of the nuclear stockpile, or the security of US borders, could be threatened. While not mentioned in the Federal Times story, access to records by future genealogists also is in doubt.
To solve this problem, NARA has embarked on a seven-year, half-billion-dollar project dubbed Electronic Records Archives (ERA) to save and protect US government electronic information. You can read the full story at http://federaltimes.com/index.php?S=294085.