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Electronic data from Bush administration may overload archives

by | Dec 30, 2008

Electronic information from the Bush administration is expected to reach 100 terabytesBeing the first president to have the entirety of his term during the internet age, the George W. Bush administration has created a glut of documentation over the last eight years. When he leaves office in January, it will be the job of the National Archives and Records Administration to take over the data which some say is 50 to 100 times the amount of electronic material created by the Clinton administration.

Although the overall size of the data – more than 100 terabytes – is problematic in some ways, there is also the issue of outdated software systems.

According to the contingency plan for the National Archives, the White House records management system (RMS) index consists of an older, customized version of Documentum which runs on Oracle. Image files within the RMS, which included copies of scanned records, are incorporated as objects in the database.

The combination of huge amounts of data and older, proprietary formats has some watchdog groups, like the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, concerned that it will not be handled properly.

Paul Brachfeld, inspector general for the National Archives told the New York Times that he expects some problems.

"The electronic records archives system may be able to take in a tremendous amount of e-mail and other records," he said. "But just because you ingest the data does not mean that people can locate, identify, recover and use the records they need."ADNFCR-1861-ID-18950929-ADNFCR