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Posted at 12:22 PM ET, 08/ 6/2010

Arlington gets tech help on burial records

By Washington Post editors

A consortium of high tech companies from Northern Virginia is stepping in to help Arlington National Cemetery automate its paper burial records, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va) announced Friday.

The companies, all members of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, will meet with cemetery officials next week to create an assessment of the type of technology needed to create a digitized system, a process that Warner said “should not be that big of a challenge.”

Warner reached out to the Tech Council after the Army’s Inspector General released a report in June that found poor record keeping and mismanagement led to the mislabeling of dozens of graves.

Bobbie Kilberg, the council president, said that 15 companies have stepped forward to help the cemetery figure out what sort of system it needs. “We really need to provide them with the road map to solve the problem, which the private sector can do.”
Investigators have found that the cemetery has spent millions of dollars on contracts to digitize its records, but has nothing to show for it. The cemetery still relies on paper burial records.

“We are one rainstorm or fire or potentially one spilled coffee cup away from destroying these records,” Warner said.

Once the solutions are identified, it’s up to the Army to decide how it wants to proceed.

-- Christian Davenport

By Washington Post editors  | August 6, 2010; 12:22 PM ET
Categories:  DC, Maryland, Virginia  
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I hope that these technology companies will undertake an environmental scan that includes the cultural heritage sector (libraries, archives, museums) before starting this work -- there are numerous resources and tools for the digitization of very large scale numbers of paper records, as well as systems for the management and delivery of such electronic records. New (and potentially expensive) systems need not be developed anew for this work.

Posted by: leslielj | August 6, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

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