The cost of building a digital system to gather, preserve and give the public access to the records of the federal government has ballooned as high as $1.4 billion, and the project could go as much as 41 percent over budget, government auditors reported Friday.

The Government Accountability Office blames the cost overruns and schedule delays on weak oversight and planning by the National Archives, which awarded a $317 million contract to Lockheed Martin six years ago to create a modern archive for electronic records.

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