Archive for the ‘Open Government’ Category
I have said it before in a number of venues and I will say it again here, records management is the backbone of Open Government. Without effective records management by all Federal agencies, the long-term success of the Open Government Initiative, not to mention the preservation and access of the permanently valuable records of the Federal Government, is in peril.
Yesterday we sent a report, “Records Management Self-Assessment 2009: An Assessment of Records Management Programs in the Federal Government,” to Congress. The report is a result of a self-assessment survey that we sent last Fall to 245 Federal cabinet-level agencies and their components, and independent agencies. Although a 90 percent response rate sounds respectable, note that this was a mandatory survey. Over 20 agencies did not respond. Their reasons for not responding included:
- The agency did not have an assigned records management officer responsible for completing the task
- The responsible records management official did not receive the self-assessment
- The agency missed the deadline, due to either accidental oversight or lack of resources to complete it
We cannot allow business as usual to continue in this way. Records management must be taken seriously, not as a minor after-thought, by all Federal agencies.
Buckle your seat belts for the the most alarming statistic in the report: Nearly 80 percent of agencies report that they are either at … [ Read all ]
Recently, NASA launched an online project called “Be A Martian.” At first glance, this website is a highly sophisticated public education tool that creates an online experience to connect the public with NASA’s mission. On closer inspection, this is also an important crowdsourcing project. The public is invited to participate as “citizen scientists” by aligning Mars imagery and counting craters. The Martian Map room is an intriguing interface where the public is invited to actually add value to the vast amount of data from several Mars missions. Do you see where I’m going with this?
While citizen science isn’t new, we are only now starting to create online platforms for citizens to make substantive contributions, regardless of location. The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) North American Bird Phenology Program has 1,754 online volunteers who have transcribed 228,479 bird migration cards. The collection contains six million paper migration cards, representing the contributions of citizen scientists in the late 19th and 20th centuries. The USGS Staff have developed a program to tap the enthusiasm and willingness of 21st century online citizen scientists to transcribe this data, which scientists are now analyzing to see how climate change affects migration. This is an example of citizens contributing in very interesting ways, ways in which I can see “citizen archivists” contributing to our mission.
At the National Archives and Records Administration, we have … [ Read all ]
The Pew Research Center recently published a report, “The Impact of the Internet on Institutions in the Future,” in which it found that 72 percent of experts agreed with the statement:
By 2020, innovative forms of online cooperation will result in significantly more efficient and responsive governments, business, non-profits, and other mainstream institutions.
That optimism agreed to by the experts indicates their belief that the internet will prompt institutional change, but is contrasted with the same experts’ concerns that:
Government agencies are cumbersome and resistant to change. The pace of progress towards openness and responsiveness will be slower than anyone would hope.
In my first few months on the job, I’ve seen some resistance to change, but that has been outmatched by what I see as a wellspring of enthusiasm for changes to our agency. One aspect of my job is to uncover and unleash talent across the agency. I am happy to say that I’ve already seen the passion of our staff and I know we can change our course and exceed expectations.
In this digital age, we have the opportunity to work and communicate more efficiently, effectively, and in completely new ways. This will require a change not only in our processes, but also in the culture of the National Archives and Records Administration. Working on the Open Government Plan (PDF) has helped … [ Read all ]