Message from the Archivist
Since 2010, we have embraced the Open Government Directive, which set forth requirements for agencies to adopt the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration and develop open government plans. In our previous open government plans, we worked to implement more than 140 commitments in the areas of records management, declassification, the Freedom of Information Act, and in innovative ways of providing access to the records of the National Archives.
This plan, our fourth, will see us through a Presidential transition and contains more than 50 specific commitments to strengthen open government at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and across government from 2016 to 2018. While one could anticipate the enthusiasm for open government winding down during the end of a second term of the administration, we have seen the opposite. During the development of this plan we saw an increase in momentum and greater engagement from the public and staff in open government initiatives. We held more than 20 internal brainstorming sessions and briefings, including our first Open Government Town Hall, which was webcast for staff members in our locations across the country. We also held our first Open Government Webinar for our external stakeholders with nearly 100 participants. Our engagement efforts brought in more than 180 ideas, comments, and suggestions that we considered for inclusion in this plan.
With the collaboration of more than 40 staff members, our fourth plan reflects how much open government drives the work of this agency. Our public engagement efforts will include launching a social media campaign to collect stories about people’s own personal artifacts and documents from the Vietnam War to enrich the experience of visiting our new exhibit on the Vietnam War. The Office of Research Services will explore how to incorporate digital tools, like social media and our History Hub pilot, to make it easier for the public to find the records that interest them, and will provide more customer service training for staff members so that we can better serve the public. Our efforts to improve employee engagement and to foster collaboration continue to be a robust part of our open government efforts, which have included the launch of six Employee Affinity Groups, focused on LGBT, veterans, Hispanic and Latino employees, individual with disabilities, African American employees, and women.
The flagship of our Open Government Plan includes 10 initiatives to increase access to the records of the National Archives through innovation. The initiatives include our work within the Innovation Hub to develop new ways of working, expanding the History Hub and Citizen Archivist programs, and developing a solution for user-generated finding aids about our records that dynamically update as information changes.
In addition to strengthening transparency, participation and collaboration at NARA, our plan leverages our interactions with other federal agencies to increase open government. The Office of the Chief Records Officer will provide greater transparency and expanded reporting to better evaluate records management risk in agencies, and promote accountability of government officials to the public. We are developing a special systematic declassification review program for records that were accessioned prior to the creation of the National Declassification Center in 2010. In addition to our work implementing aspects of the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016, the Office of Government Information Services will develop tools to teach students about the power of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to hold the government accountable and work with the Department of Justice to develop standards for agency FOIA webpages. The Information Security Oversight Office will continue to monitor and report on the state of classification and declassification in government and will also provide guidance and report on agency adherence to the Fundamental Classification Guidance Review.
As we look forward to the next two years, I am confident that we will continue to strengthen and build momentum for our efforts to provide transparency, and foster greater participation and collaboration in our work so that we can better serve the public.
David S. Ferriero
Archivist of the United States