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The Electronic Records Archive (ERA) system is used to store and process electronic records from the George W. Bush Administration. The Executive Office of the President (EOP-ERA) version of the system exclusively stores unclassified Presidential records.
Electronic records, such as emails and shared drive files, were ingested into EOP-ERA at the close of the George W. Bush Administration. EOP-ERA currently holds:
- 82 TB of data
- Over 250 million electronic records indexed and available for search, including:
- Over 200 million e-mail messages
- Over 4 million digital photographs
- Over 30 million other electronic records
Organization of Records
Electronic records from the George W. Bush administration are preserved within EOP-ERA in groups called “Search and Access Sets” (SAS). Records are included in a SAS based on the system that originally created the records. There are multiple email SAS because the White House transitioned from one email managing client to another, midway through the George W. Bush Administration. Other SAS include data created by additional electronic data systems used for photograph organization, scheduling, correspondence management, and other functions.
The email systems contain copies of messages sent or received by White House email accounts. Because emails may have been addressed to multiple White House staff, there can be many duplicates of messages in the email holdings. This is why a researcher may receive numerous copies of an email in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
The main email search and access sets (SAS) are:
- Automated Records Management System (ARMS) Email – Presidential: ARMS was used as a White House email system from January 20, 2001, until approximately April 2007. The majority of the records in this SAS are from the earlier half of the George W. Bush administration.
- Exchange Email - Presidential: Exchange was an additional email system within the White House. This system was used as early as January 20, 2001, but the bulk of the email in Exchange covers the latter half of the administration.
- Exchange Email Restored - Presidential (20 Days, 33 Days, and 40 Days): In press reports, these records were referred to as “the missing emails” or “the lost George W. Bush email.” These SAS consist of records that were restored as the result of litigation by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the National Security Archive (NSA).
Hard Drives (Shared and Home Drives)
EOP-ERA also contains files from hard drives on White House computers, including home drives maintained by individual staffers and shared drives used across White House offices. Hard drives are broken out by White House component, and thereunder by individual offices or staff members.
The drives are broken out as follows:
- CEA (Council of Economic Advisers)
- NSC (National Security Council)
- OA (Office of Administration)
- OPD (Office of Policy Development): This drive includes DPC (Domestic Policy Council), NEC (National Economic Council), and USAFC (USA Freedom Corps). Note that additional USAFC data may be found in the WHO drive. Researchers interested in the USA Freedom Corps should request materials from both the OPD and WHO drives.
- PFIAB (President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board)
- WHO (White House Office): This drive contains the majority of the offices that have not already been named, including (but not limited to) Chief of Staff, the Office of the First Lady, Speechwriting, Press Office, etc.
- RNC_PST (Republican National Committee - Post Office Tables): The White House preserved this body of records and provided it to NARA. Some of the messages may be duplicative of material found in the email Search and Access Sets (SAS).
Photographs from the entire administration are stored in the White House Photo System search and access set as digital images with associated metadata.
Visitor records are stored in the Worker and Visitor Entry System (WAVES) search and access set. WAVES contains records of visitor entry to the White House complex.
Access to Electronic Records
All George W. Bush Presidential records (both electronic and textual) are processed and reviewed for access under provisions of the 1978 Presidential Records Act (PRA), as amended, (44 U.S.C. §§ 2201- 2209), which incorporates the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. § 552) in substantial part.
Electronic records are routinely searched and included in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, unless specifically excluded or noted that textual materials only are being requested. However, FOIA requesters can choose to exclude all electronic records, or some subset thereof, from their request. Due to the nature of electronic records, their volume, and duplicity, it benefits a requester to be as specific as possible with search terms, time frames, and/or recipients.
Records may be exempted from release - either in whole or in part - in compliance with the restrictions of the PRA and applicable FOIA exemptions, which specify what material may be released to the public.
Example: Kress Email Release
The B. Alexander "Sandy" Kress email release traces the creation of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and consists of 106 messages with 23 containing unique content and 83 duplicates. See the Finding Aid for more information.
- These emails start with the first day of the Bush Administration on January 20, 2001 and end on June 14, 2001 when the Senate passed the Act with changes and sent the legislation to the conference committee.
- Each email was sent or received by Mr. Kress, Senior Advisor to the President on Education.
- Most messages relate to the drafting of H.R. 1 (House Resolution 1, No Child Left Behind Act of 2001) and S. 1 (Senate Bill 1, Better Education for Students and Teachers Act).
- Other emails include press releases, scheduling requests, and related messages concerning the education of Limited English Proficient students, charter schools, supplementary educational services, and school accountability provisions within the House and Senate legislation.
- Correspondents include White House staff members (Townsend McNitt, Nina Rees, Margaret LaMontagne Spellings, and Sarah Youssef) and Department of Education employees (Clayton Boothby, David Cleary, Sandra Cook, Paul Riddle, and Michael Sheridan).
- Each unique message includes the full list of recipients, sender, and date stamp information, along with message content found in the duplicate copies.
- Researchers may request copies of all 106 messages for a fee.