Since my swearing in as the 10th Archivist of the United States less than a year ago, we’ve taken important steps to become a more open, transparent, participatory, and collaborative agency.
I’m proud of our accomplishments:
- The development of our Open Government Plan
- A 300 percent increase in the use of social media tools to accomplish our work
- The launch of Federal Register 2.0
- Over 20,000 votes by NARA staff on possible budget reductions
- Recognition of the important role of citizen archivists
We’ve made a great start, but we have a lot more to do if we are to be well-positioned to meet the challenges we face in the 21st century.
It’s time for us to step out of our comfort zones and rethink how we operate as an agency.
A few months ago, I charged a task force to draft a plan for agency transformation. A draft plan was circulated internally for staff input. I’d like to thank the NARA staff who submitted hundreds of thoughtful comments on the proposed plan. Their insight was indispensable in the development of the final report.
Last week their final report, “A Charter for Change,” was issued to staff. The report outlines a new organizational model for the National Archives. These organizational changes are driven by a set of guiding principles. These are the pillars of how we intend to do business in the future. They are:
- One NARA: work as one NARA and not just as component parts.
- Out in Front: Embrace the primacy of electronic information in all facets of our work and position NARA to lead accordingly.
- An Agency of Leaders: Foster a culture of leadership, not just as a position but as the way we all conduct our work.
- A Great Place to Work: Transform NARA into a great place to work that trusts and empowers all of our people, the agency’s most vital resource.
- A Customer-Focused Organization: Create structures and processes to allow our staff to more effectively meet the needs of our customers.
- An Open NARA: Open our organizational boundaries to learn from others.
It’s going to take courage and creativity to “hard-wire” these pillars into our culture and our work. We need to move forward quickly with the proposed changes. It’s crucial that each of us feels a sense of urgency and makes a commitment to these changes. We need to pull together as an agency to be successful.
Leonardo da Vinci said, “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
We are moving fast. During November and December, the Transformation Launch Team will work with staff to identify the core ideology and values of the agency, identify and implement specific action items, and draft the remaining organization structure of the agency. The transformation will ensure that Open Government at the National Archives not only continues, but flourishes in ways we have not yet imagined.
I am calling on all of you to be champions of change as we move forward. Staff, researchers, and citizen archivists will need to be flexible and forward looking, open to the challenges, and ready to participate.
Are you in?