Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Presidential Innovation Fellows at the National Archives

Written on: December 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

Throughout the halls of government, perhaps no word is more often cited than ‘innovation.’ While there’s no doubt that innovation holds the key to envisioning government’s work in the future, I’ll admit that innovation itself can be a challenging word, given that it has so many meanings to so many people.

At its core, I believe innovation is the ability to think, envision and act audaciously, to set far-reaching, often disruptive goals and enlist a collaborative, multi-disciplinary team to meet them. At the National Archives and Records Administration, our mission is to drive openness, cultivate public participation, and strengthen our nation’s democracy through public access to high-value records. In order to do this, and to do it well, we must be audacious.

One way NARA is working toward this vision is by partnering with the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. Established by the White House in 2012 and now led by a dedicated program office at 18F in the General Services Administration, the Presidential Innovation Fellows program brings the principles, values, and practices of the innovation economy into government through the most effective agents of change we know: our people. This highly competitive program pairs talented, diverse individuals from the innovation community with top civil servants to tackle many of our Nation’s biggest challenges, and to achieve a profound and lasting social impact.

Out of … [ Read all ]

Thanks, Natalie

Written on: December 5, 2014 | 3 Comments

In September 2010, I blogged about a Revolutionary War spy whose descendant, Natalie Nicholson, was one of my early mentors in the MIT Libraries.  When I started shelving books in the Humanities Library at MIT, Natalie was the Associate Director of Libraries.  The Director’s Office suite shared the second floor of Hayden Library which gave me unprecedented access to power!  I actually got to see the Administration!

Natalie took an early interest in me, stopping to ask about my studies at Northeastern University or comment on the full pre-shelving section at the end of term.  We worked together for ten years—1965 to 1975—and throughout, Natalie, appointed Director in 1972, kept an eye on me.  As a young librarian, she looked for opportunities for me to learn and grow.  She asked me to chair my first task force—converting the MIT union catalog to microfiche.  It turned into a learning experience for me with lessons in diplomacy, persistence, the power of data, marketing, return on investment, strategizing, space planning, communication, quality control, and the role of humor in defusing tense confrontations.  Natalie was a great teacher and in my regular meetings with her, she offered encouragement and perspective, but never prescription.  She always turned my questions into “What do you think?”

As I made each transition in my career, I would call Natalie and let her know … [ Read all ]

It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law!

Written on: December 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

On November 26, 2014, President Barack Obama signed into law Public Law No: 113-187, the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014. This new law modernizes records management by focusing more directly on electronic records, and complements efforts by the National Archives to implement the President’s 2011 Memorandum on Managing Government Records.

HR 1233 signature page

Key points of this law include:

  • Strengthening the Federal Records Act by expanding the definition of Federal records to clearly include electronic records. This is the first change to the definition of a Federal record since the enactment of the act in 1950.
  • Confirming that Federal electronic records will be transferred to the National Archives in electronic form.
  • Granting the Archivist of the United States final determination as to what constitutes a Federal record.
  • Authorizing the early transfer of permanent electronic Federal and Presidential records to the National Archives, while legal custody remains with the agency or the President.
  • Clarifying the responsibilities of Federal government officials when using non-government email systems.
  • Empowering the National Archives to safeguard original and classified records from unauthorized removal.
  • Codifying procedures by which former and incumbent Presidents review Presidential records for constitutional privileges.

We welcome this bipartisan effort to update the nation’s records laws for the 21st Century. H.R. 1233 could not have become law without the efforts of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking … [ Read all ]

Second Open Government National Action Plan

Written on: November 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

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.

National Action Plan cover

 

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!

  1.  Improve Public Participation in Government.  Our Citizen Archivist Dashboard activities and Federal Register 2.0 are just two experiments in increasing public engagement.
  2. Modernize Management of Government Records.  Implementation of the President’s Memorandum on Managing Government Records and the Directive on Managing Government Records are works in progress in this arena.
  3. Modernize the Freedom of Information Act.  Our Office of Government
[ Read all ]

Additional Guidance on Managing Email Released

Written on: September 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

I am pleased to announce that the Office of Management and Budget and the National Archives released a memo yesterday afternoon to the heads of executive departments and independent agencies on managing email. Over the past few weeks, this issue has been brought into focus through testimony that I delivered to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. In addition, we have received questions from agencies as they are reviewing our Capstone Bulletin to determine if this approach is feasible for them. This is also important in light of the requirement in the Managing Government Records Directive (OMB M-12-18) for all email to be managed electronically by December 31, 2016.

The memo reinforces the importance for each agency to manage their email properly and includes a new NARA Bulletin to assist agencies. NARA Bulletin 2014-06 reminds agency heads of existing NARA guidance and resources to assist in managing email.  The memo also reminds agencies of the upcoming deadline in the Directive to develop suitable training for all agency personnel.

Our Office of the Chief Records Officer is leading our efforts to work with agencies to meet all the goals in the Directive. For more information about this work, and other initiatives they are undertaking, please visit their Records Express blog.… [ Read all ]

Happy Birthday, Annie Oakley!

Written on: August 22, 2014 | 1 Comment

Letter to William McKinley offering to raise a troop of 50 lady sharpshooters to fight the Spanish American War.  They would provide their own rifles and ammunition.  Unfortunately, women were not allowed to serve at that point in our history.

Annie Oakley letter to William McKinley

Letter to President William McKinley from Annie Oakley. April 5, 1898. National Archives Identifier 300369[ Read all ]

The Hill Staff

Written on: August 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

Last night the Young Founder’s Society (YFS) hosted a reception in the Gold Room of the Rayburn House Office Building.  The YFS is a membership group for young professionals in the Washington, DC, area who are committed to the work of the Foundation for the National Archives to increase awareness of the cultural and historical value of the National Archives.

YFS invitation
Young Founder’s Society event invitation

While the event was part of the YFS’s membership drive, it was an opportunity for me to thank the attendees for their service to the nation and to single out the members of our oversight and appropriations committees for special thanks.  In my 14 hearing appearances to date (but, who’s counting?!) I have been impressed with the knowledge, expertise, and passion which these people bring to their job.

Many of the attendees have visited the National Archives with their Senator or Representative and to a person have left here inspired by the history they have relived through the original records.  To simulate that experience last night several dozen facsimiles were around the room—the 1868 treasury note for $7.2m with which purchased Alaska, the First Continental Congress’ Agreement of Secrecy signed in 1775 to protect the Founders, the bus diagram showing where Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks was seated on that fateful day, and my letter to President Eisenhower asking for … [ Read all ]

ISOO Report to the President

Written on: July 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

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

The 34th Annual Report to the President covering 2013 was released earlier this month.

ISOO 2013 Report to President

Several positive developments are noted in this report:

  •  The number of persons granted original classification authority continues to decrease and is at its lowest recorded level, standing at 2,269.
  • Agencies reported a 20% reduction in original classification activity
  • ISOO conducted on-site reviews of five agency declassification programs with all agencies receiving a passing score.

Other report highlights:

  •  Agencies reported 58,794 original classification decisions
  • Executive Branch agencies reported 80,124,389 derivative classification decisions
  • Under automatic, systematic, and discretionary declassification review, agencies reviewed 56,332,029 pages and declassified 27,524,342 pages of historically valuable records.

I am proud of the work of our ISOO staff and encourage you to become familiar with this important function here at the National Archives.… [ Read all ]

The Elusive 600

Written on: July 15, 2014 | 2 Comments

I’m loving Joseph McCormack’s new book, Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less.  The focus is on lean communication.  McCormack terms it Six Sigma for your mouth!  “In our attention deficit economy, being brief is what’s desperately needed and rarely delivered.”

People speak at about 150 words per minute, but we have the mental capacity to deal with 750 words per minute.  That leaves a space of 600 words where we drift—think other thoughts, take a mini-vacation, lose focus, etc.

soldier daydreams while coming home from a deployment.

Military Photographer of the Year Winner 1997. Title: Thoughts Elsewhere.
Major Kurt Tek daydreams while coming home from a deployment, 01/01/1997.
National Archives Identifier 6498091

McCormack’s tips for clear, concise, and compelling oral presentations are simple:  map it, tell it, talk it, and show it.  Outline your remarks—background, relevance, information to impart, conclusion, and follow-up anticipating expected questions.  Use narrative storytelling to deliver the message.  Use a controlled conversation rather than a monologue.  And use visuals to increase engagement.  Most importantly, stop talking and give people a chance to process.  “The mind is a processor, and if you keep hitting the send button, the effect can be maddening and futile.”

I was especially taken with his advice on avoiding TL/DR (too long, didn’t read) on email messages:

  • Make it Inviting—a strong subject line
  • Limit to One Screen
  • Embrace the White Space—instead of 8-10 sentence
[ Read all ]

Making Access Happen by Expanding Broadband

Written on: May 1, 2014 | 1 Comment

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”: 

[ Read all ]