4 Replies Latest reply on Feb 18, 2016 12:07 PM by Meredith Stewart

    What does open government mean for the National Archives?

    Kelly Osborn Tracker

      I understand that "open government" means that the Obama administration advocated for transparency, participation, and collaboration across government. What does that mean specifically for the National Archives?

        • Re: What does open government mean for the National Archives?
          Meredith Stewart Adventurer

          Great question, Kelly (Kelly Osborn) !


          At the National Archives, our mission is directly tied to open government efforts. The directive for our efforts steams from the requirements in the Open Government Directive, which was published in December 2009. Agencies were charged with strengthening transparency (what the public can see), participation (getting the public involved) and collaboration (working together to make government better). 

          One of the agency's strategic goals is to "Make Access Happen."  And that work we do to serve researchers and make available the records of the government strengthens the transparency. Our efforts help the public learn more about what the government does. 


          We do so much to strengthen open government, including by launching the History Hub pilot. You can see how it would provide greater transparency by giving the public greater access to ask questions and receive help or information they are looking for, encouraging public participation on the platform, and collaboration with the public in answering questions (they may know an answer we don't) and with other institutions (again, they may know something we don't, or have records we don't have). 


          You can learn about NARA's significant open government milestones on Archives.gov/open and view our latest Open Government Plan. We update the agency's Open Government Plan every two years.  We are working on our next plan now, which will be published June 1, 2016.


          We will be developing the next plan with public (and staff!) feedback. We need your ideas on this space!


          What would you like to see the National Archives do to strengthen open government in the next two years?


          Initiatives and topics related to our open government efforts include:

          • Public engagement
          • Employee engagement
          • Digitization
          • National Archives Catalog
          • Archives.gov
          • Wikipedia efforts
          • Social Media efforts
          • Open Data and Data.gov
          • Plain Writing
          • Freedom of Information Act
          • Records Management
          • National Declassification Center
          • Federal Records Centers
          • Electronic Records Archives
          • Office of Government Information Services
          • Information Security Oversight Office
          • Controlled Unclassified Information
          • Office of the Federal Register
          • National Historical Publications and Records Commission. 


          Thanks, I look forward to hearing your ideas!

          2 of 2 people found this helpful
            • Re: What does open government mean for the National Archives?
              Maarja Krusten Adventurer

              Thanks for the thoughtful post, Meredith Stewart!  I'm encouraged by the work that the NARA Chief Records Officer team is doing by taking the lead in modernizing federal records management.  This includes development of the visionary Capstone email option that General Counsel Gary M. Stern and then Chief Records Officer Paul Wester discussed in recent years at various forums, including a public American Society of Access Professionals all-day session at NARA a year ago.  The key to moving ahead on such complex issues lies in the title of another session that day, "Working Together:  Breaking the Silo Mentality," with Allison Stanton of the Department of Justice, Civil Division.


              She put it well when she described (I'm paraphrasing) the vibe that underlies effective partnering inside and outside organizations: “I’m not here as your competitor.  We bring different insights and knowledge to the table. Let’s work together so that we all can be stronger.”  I liked Stanton's realistic observation that there is plenty of brainpower within the federal agencies and departments but that stakeholders don’t always find or “know each other.”  This is true outside the government as well, something NARA demonstrated with its industry forum in September 2013.


              So I would encourage you to continue along those lines, with records management issues and records declassification, as well.  Especially pleased at the outstanding work done by the Public Interest Declassification Board, whose meetings at NARA demonstrate collaborative problem solving in support of the National Declassification Center.  Plenty of brainpower out there; hope you continue to look for ways to benefit from it, including online.  And to find thoughtful ways to ensure its preservation, of the type Kristen Albrittain of NARA explored at the ASAP session last year!

                • Re: What does open government mean for the National Archives?
                  Meredith Stewart Adventurer

                  Thank you, Maarja Krusten for your thoughtful insights!  You bring up some interesting points about collective problem solving. It's one of the things we're experimenting with more here on History Hub, in terms of the ability for us to collectively problem solve not only internally, but also with help from the public.


                  I hope you will share your thoughts and feedback on what you would like to see in NARA's next Open Government Plan for 2016-2018. It certainly will include initiatives from Records Management and the National Declassification Center. We'll be kicking off more formally in March, but we welcome feedback and suggestions in advance.  You (and anyone) can also email their thoughts into opengov@nara.gov.