David S. Ferriero 2014-02-11 11:40:39
At the National Archives, we are in the midst of a multiyear transformation into a more dynamic and responsive agency. The transformation, which has involved an agency-wide reorganization, will have six results: We will work as one NARA, not as component parts. We will be out in front in embracing the primacy of electronic information in all our work. We will foster a culture that results in an agency of leaders. We will turn NARA into a great place to work by empowering our staff, our most vital resource. We will focus on our customers and find ways to serve their needs more effectively. And we will be an open NARA—open to learn from others outside the government. This transformation is proceeding apace, but to get where we want to be as a transformed agency, we needed to establish some goals . . . Realistic goals that could be met. Practical goals that would serve us and our customers. And simple goals that everybody could understand. To ensure our transformation’s success, we’re now in the final stages of creating a new Strategic Plan for 2014–2019. We recently requested input from our employees, our stakeholders, and the public, and we have received many thoughtful comments and suggestions. Thanks should go to the Society of American Archivists (SAA) for contributing comments that are helping us to improve the draft plan. In the past eighteen to twenty-four months, as we have been crafting this new Strategic Plan, the White House has announced a number of directives and executive orders that have influenced our thinking and provided a context for our work. These include Creating a Digital Future, Big and Open Data Initiatives, the Open Government Directive and Citizen Engagement, and the Managing Government Records Memorandum and Directive. And so we all understand what’s going on, Congress passed the Plain Writing Act. Within this context, we have developed four goals for the new Strategic Plan: Make Access Happen. We need to make easily accessible all the records we have, including traditional paper records that we will digitize. Connect with Customers. We want to build strong relationships with our customers, who are not only individuals, but also outside organizations, such as SAA. Maximize NARA’s Value to the Nation. We will continuously drive to improve our efficiency and effectiveness, which ultimately supports public access to government information and the measurable economic value that it creates. Build Our Future through Our People. We will, through training, coaching, and mentoring, empower our staff to act to support our mission and customers. NARA is an agency that provides services, and it is our terrific staff that delivers those services with the utmost quality and professionalism. As I said earlier, to develop the Strategic Plan, we have drawn upon the expertise of our staff and stakeholders, including SAA. As our allies, your views are important to us. And from your vantage point, you see things that we may not see. Our stakeholders showered us with very perceptive and challenging comments, many favorable and complimentary, some of which will assist us in making the plan even better. Some of those who commented believed we might be setting some goals that realistically Cannot be met. For example, they said we are overambitious in thinking we can get all our traditional records digitized. I truly believe that the plan should have “stretch” goals, and this is one of them. There are in our holdings about 12 billion pieces of paper that document the story of our nation from its founding in 1776, through wars, westward expansion, and the fight for the rights of all Americans. It is important that these records be available online. It is imperative we remember that the work we do aids and supports the lifecycle of federal records from creation, through use and management, and their final disposition. We must give guidance to government offices for their born-digital documents to ensure that our holdings will be available for future generations. Records processing, preservation, description, and digitization are all very important. They are the essential components of reaching the goal of “Make Access Happen.” That’s where we want to be and that’s what is in our minds. So, let me say: We’ve heard you. We’re working to provide more clarity to the plan, and we’ll provide more detail and explanation on how we’re going to reach our goals. An update: The crafting of the new Strategic Plan is on schedule, and it will be published no later than February 2014. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on a document of utmost importance to us— and to all those who depend on the National Archives for quick and easy access to documents and records that they need. Stay tuned.
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