The Open Government Partnership, launched in the summer of 2011 can trace its roots to President Obama’s challenge to the members of the United Nations General Assembly in September of 2010—a challenge to work together to make all governments more transparent, collaborative, and participatory. The Partnership has grown from eight to more than 60 nations representing more than 1,000 commitments to improve the governance of more than two billion people around the world.
The United States issued its first Open Government National Action Plan in September of 2011 and the National Archives participated in the process. In December of 2013, the White House issued the Second Open Government National Action Plan, committing to work with the public and civil society organizations to implement initiatives to increase public integrity, to manage resources more effectively, and to improve public services.
I’m pleased (and proud) to report that five of the ten action items addressing public integrity have the National Archives written all over them!
The holdings of the National Archives are vast. With more than 12 billion pages of textual records alone, it is essential that we continue to explore and employ innovative strategies to provide effective access. By understanding how you currently access our records and better understanding your unique needs, we will be better positioned to ensure your success in using the country’s records.
The National Archives’ Strategic Plan includes a simple, but audacious initiative: to digitize our analog records and make them available for online public access. We have over 12 billion pages of records, so yes, this is our moon shot.
To achieve this goal, we know we need to think in radically new ways about our processes, and we have started by creating a new digitization strategy. From the time we published our 2008 digitization strategy through today, we have scanned over 230 million objects. This is a huge number, but we have a long road ahead. Our new strategy pushes us further.
We know we cannot do all of this by ourselves. We will continue to collaborate and build on efforts with private and public organizations to digitize records, as well as branch out to citizen archivists, other federal agencies and institutions worldwide. We will develop clear processes and technologies to support a workflow from staff digitization efforts, as well as ensure that records arriving at NARA are accompanied by standardized metadata, and make them available online in a shorter period of time.
We will set measures and track progress for each of these approaches, because we believe we can make digital access happen and we … [ Read all ]
The Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), established in 1978, is responsible to the President for overseeing the Government-wide security classification program, and receives policy and program guidance from the National Security Council. ISOO has been part of the National Archives and Records Administration since 1995. You can learn more about ISOO at www.archives.gov/isoo
In the four years since we published our first plan, we have demonstrated our contribution to strengthening the principles of open government. We have implemented more than 90 actions to improve transparency, participation, and collaboration.
In our new plan we focus our efforts to engage the public in more than 160 external projects on more than 15 social media platforms, as well as through our public events, educational programs, Research Services, and Presidential Libraries.
At the same time we are working to improve internal communications and employee satisfaction, creating a cohort of managers and supervisors with a common ethos that supports the mission of the agency. And we have empowered Special Emphasis Program Managers across the agency to help create an environment that supports fair and open opportunities for all employees regardless of their differences.
Our Flagship Initiative, “Innovate to Make Access Happen,” describes our digitization, description, and online access efforts for the next two years. Check it out and track us as we develop a program to digitize our analog records, expand digitization partnerships, and update our digitization strategy.
In the next two years, I want the National Archives to become a leader in innovation and transform the way people think about archival collections! Join us in the journey.… [ Read all ]
I recently attended the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ public hearing on broadband access, hosted at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, DC. I was joined by colleagues from Federal agencies, universities, museums and libraries to examine the need for high speed broadband access in America’s libraries, and how this access is essential in meeting the educational, cultural, and information needs of all citizens.
As the leader of an agency dedicated to providing access to the permanent records of the federal government, I support this initiative to increase broadband access. Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, spoke eloquently of his own experience in using archival records and the value of electronic access to those records. Broadband access is the crucial piece in this equation; we need to ensure that our holdings and content can reach the eyes of many more people in order to truly make access happen.
Watch the full recording of the IMLS Public Hearing: “Libraries and Broadband: Urgency and Impact”:
The Managing Government Records Directive (OMB M12-18) charges the National Archives and Records Administration to lead the efforts to modernize records management in the Federal Government.
The Directive focuses on two main goals:
agencies will require electronic recordkeeping by managing all their email in an accessible electronic format by the end of 2016 and managing all their permanent records as electronic records by the end of 2019.
agencies must demonstrate compliance with all records management laws and regulations.
I talked about the importance of the Directive in a post when it was issued in 2012. Since then, we passed several milestones. Agencies have identified Senior Agency Officials to lead records management in their programs and I have met with them to discuss the challenge and collaborate on solutions. And they have reported on their progress.
Staff members Meg Phillips, Don Rosen, and Chief Records Officer Paul Wester mingle with vendors at “The Managing Government Records Directive: A Grand Challenge for Industry” event in September 2013.
In September, we hosted a successful industry day for the Federal information management community and vendors with automated electronic records management solutions and services. It was an opportunity to meet and discuss the solutions and tools needed to meet the goals of the Directive.
Our fourth strategic goal, our most important goal, focuses on the real treasures of the National Archives–our staff.
Photograph of Female Statue, The Future, Located near the Pennsylvania Avenue Entrance to the National Archives Building, 06/30/1936. National Archives ID: 7657960
This goal highlights our commitment to provide our staff with the training, tools and opportunities necessary for the transition into a digital environment. We intend to support staff through creating a culture of empowerment, openness and inclusion through both our processes and new technology. And we want to ensure that we have a diverse workforce, equipped with the skills necessary to fulfill our mission.
The goal of “Building Our Future Through Our People” includes several initiatives. We plan to:
Foster an employee development culture to promote learning and leadership by all.
Cultivate a robust, well-connected internal communications environment to support informed action at all levels.
Implement innovative practices and tools to recruit, sustain, and retain a 21st century workforce.
Create new career paths for NARA employees to ensure that we have the necessary competencies and skills in a digital environment.
As you can see from the initiatives, we take our commitment to the staff of the National Archives very seriously. It is only by providing a supportive environment for our staff that any of our goals may be achieved.
When we talk about economic value, we are not talking about the appraised value or the replacement value of our records. Historically, we have talked about economic value in terms of the large number of jobs and economic activity that NARA generates. Examples include the local economic activity generated around our public programs; the numerous professional researchers and authors who write non-fiction and best-selling works of fiction based on NARA records; popular films that came to fruition only because of the existence and hard work of the National Archives.
“Maximize NARA’s Value to the Nation” charts a course forward from this legacy. The course forward supports our transition to digital government, so that we can quickly and efficiently provide public access to our records. We want to ensure our historical government data is accessible by customers when they need it and in the format or technology platform that is easy for them to use. And when we talk about economic value today, we are not talking about commercial value only. We are expanding this idea beyond a simple commercial concept, to consider the social valuation of our returns on investment. These are opportunities to … [ Read all ]
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