At long last, it's Lockheed for electronic archives

Lockheed Martin Corp. will set the path for how the government will store, maintain and make available electronic records at the National Archives and Records Administration.

The Bethesda, Md., company won this week a $308 million NARA contract to build the Electronic Records Archive system. Lockheed Martin was picked over Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Fla.

"What emerged at the end of the evaluation was we had two good companies competing, and in the end we compared the details of how well the companies understood the finer points of the Archives' mission and Lockheed was better," said Ken Thibodeau, NARA's director of the ERA program. "Both had promising architectures but Lockheed just made more progress to what we think we needed."

The two companies spent a combined $21 million over the last 12 months building prototype systems. NARA expects Lockheed to launch the initial operating capability of the system by 2007 and have ERA fully operational by 2011.

"We will deliver an open, flexible and highly scalable solution," said Don Antonucci, president of Lockheed Martin's Transportation and Security Solutions Division. "ERA is the start of a new archiving solution."

Lockheed Martin's team includes BearingPoint Inc. of McLean, Va.; EDS Corp.; Fenestra Technologies Corp. of Germantown, Md.; FileTek Inc. of Rockville, Md.; History Associates Inc. of Rockville, Md.; Image Fortress Corp. of Westford, Mass.; Metier Ltd. of Washington; Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego and Tessella Inc. of Newton, Mass.

The biggest challenge Lockheed Martin will face is to design a system that will evolve over time, Thibodeau said.

"Engineering methods don't always factor that in," he said. "Lockheed Martin showed us that their architecture can carry this into as many commercial off-the-shelf products as possible."

Antonucci would not offer any specifics on ERA's technology, except to say it will be using open architecture.

NARA is considering locating the system at another agency to share the cost of communications lines and IT security. Thibodeau said NARA is in discussions with several agencies.

The system will help NARA deal with a deluge of electronic records agencies are producing each month. Officials estimated that the Defense Department alone will submit one billion electronic personnel files to NARA over the next 10 years.

Lockheed Martin's version of ERA will store and maintain records in the format they were created in to retain the records' authenticity. NARA estimates that agencies use more than 4,800 different types of formats.

Lockheed Martin is ranked No. 1 on Washington Technology's Top 100. Harris is ranked No. 23.

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