wasting bandwidth since 1999

We Don’t Do PowerPoint

On the drive home, listening to a segment from On The Media (an excellent podcast from NPR) that illustrates just how far behind the federal government is when it comes to the digital world.

Well, almost everything in the Pentagon, if it’s a briefing on a war plan, on a weapons procurement, it’s all done on PowerPoint these days. And the National Archive is currently unable to accept and process either PowerPoint slides or Microsoft Word documents.

So the National Archives are basically telling all the federal agencies, listen, we can’t do anything with these now so just hang onto them and file them rationally until we get around to it.

Until a few years ago, they could not accept email with attachments, digital photos or PDF documents. That’s just in the last few years. They supposedly are putting together an electronic record archive, but it will not be ready for at least three years.

It sounds incredible that an agency tasked with archiving all the records of our government is unable to handle the most common digital formats for documents used anywhere in the world.

You have to imagine the archivists in DC must be going nuts over the fact that the president’s weekly address to the nation is in H.264 Flash video on YouTube.

Among many other things, President Obama pledged during the campaign and since taking office to “Open Up Government to its Citizens” and “Bring Government into the 21st Century”.

Considering PowerPoint and Word are relics from the 20th century, his technology people could have a more difficult task ahead of them than his economics team.

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2 Comments

  1. Dave

    Can’t they just accept the digital files and figure out what to do with them later? Their custom system might not be able to process MS Office formats yet, but surely they can store them in an alternate system until they can be processed?

  2. Fortunately, there are other organizations out there doing archiving (http://www.archive.org/index.php comes to mind). It does make you wonder what they are doing over there. Maybe the lines between the Library of Congress and the Nat’l Archives are blurring?

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