President Obama has ordered federal agencies to make wider use of digital-based recordkeeping systems in what his aides promise will be the most significant change to government archiving since Harry S. Truman’s presidency.
The White House on Monday gave agency bosses four months to draft plans to improve how they archive government records, with specific government-wide instructions to follow soon after. The goal is to make federal recordkeeping cheaper, faster and easier to access for Americans eager to explore government data, deliberations and decisions.
In issuing the order, Obama said the government’s archiving system “is based on an outdated approach involving paper and filing cabinets,” adding that his order would “move the process into the digital age.”
The government’s electronic archives top 142 terabytes of data, or 14,200 gigabytes. By comparison, the Library of Congress has accumulated 254 terabytes of data, and more than 20 years’ worth of images captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope account for more than 45 terabytes, enough to fill 5,800 DVDs.