Be Bold: Maximize NARA’s Value to the Nation

Written on: April 22, 2014 | 1 Comment

In this goal we recognize that public access to government information creates measurable economic value, which adds to the enduring cultural, historical, and evidentiary value of our records.

Maximize Value
National Archives Identifier: 196401

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 generate new knowledge, provide solutions to society’s problems, and explore possibilities that are beyond simply commercial gain for the country.

We have two objectives under this goal:

  •  to reform and modernize records management policies and practices within the Federal government and to effectively support the transition to a digital government. We are establishing requirements for electronic records management for federal agencies and we will stimulate investigation of applied research into automated technologies.
  • to promote the use and reuse of our records in both the public and private sectors.  And as I have said before, this builds on the foundation of making access happen and connecting with our customers.

Increasingly, customers of government information want to use and re-use the data sets incorporated in government records.  This is where the National Archives has opportunities to stimulate large-scale job creation and economic activity.  “Maximize NARA’s Value” recognizes that there is real economic value locked in the National Archives.  We have the opportunity to do even greater good – because we already do good – by driving economic growth and job creation through public access to our records.

Stay tuned for goal four: Build Our Future Through Our People.  Get the full view or our Strategic Plan.

One Response to “Be Bold: Maximize NARA’s Value to the Nation”

  1. Rick Barry said:

    Congratulations on an excellent initiative. Raising the bar from a simplist kind of ROI arithmetic to a broader economic analysis, as difficult as that may be, is the best way to reach public and private sector leaders. This includes the repurposing of information assets which has long been a goal of CIOs and others who sit at executive decision-making tables with the wherewithal to have a strong impact on organizational goals, policies and resources. As our esteemed colleague, Terry Cook, put it so well several years ago: the use of archival resources by authors needs to rise above acknowledgement pages and footnotes into the text and context of their writing.


    (April 22, 2014 at 6:08 pm)