In a letter providing input on the development of the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA’s) third Open Government Plan, ARMA International called on the nation’s top records keeper to promote a culture of information governance in federal departments and agencies as a way to inspire the government’s information management professionals and help NARA achieve its vision of a more open, transparent, and accountable government.
“As the largest generator of records and information, both traditional and electronic, the federal government can be a catalyst for promoting best practices, professional standards, and education and training for records and information management programs and professionals, both in the United States and globally,” stated Marilyn Bier, ARMA’s CEO. “Becoming such a catalyst requires a transformational approach to records management, one that treats records management not just as a support function, but as mission-critical to the operations of the government.”
In April, NARA sought feedback from the public, stakeholders, and employees in the development of its third Open Government Plan for 2014-2016. The plan highlights the following 10 initiatives NARA believes will increase transparency, participation, and collaboration:
- Develop Crowdsourcing Tools to Unlock Government Records
- Modernize the Online Catalog of the National Archives
- Expand Citizen Archivist and Wikipedia Efforts
- Modernize Management of Government Records
- Establish a FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] Modernization Advisory Committee
- Develop Common FOIA Regulations and Practices for Federal Agencies
- Implement Declassification Referral Notification and Tracking System
- Implement the Controlled Unclassified Information Program
- Enhance Services to Researchers and the Public
- Establish Digitization Governance
According to NARA, the Open Government Plan will be aligned to NARA’s new strategic plan, which was released in March as a means to guide the agency as it seeks to adapt to new types of records, users, and technologies for managing, preserving, and providing access to federal records.
Among the strategies for promoting information governance, ARMA’s letter called on NARA to support the development of professional standards for records managers by providing input to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of that agency’s upcoming multi-year process for revising the Standard Occupational Classification system. To promote best practices, ARMA recommended the establishment of a chief records officer in every department and agency, and it called for assessments and continuous monitoring “to protect their organizations in the use of information assets.” To address budgetary and implementation challenges, ARMA is encouraging NARA to consider the expertise of the private and nonprofit sectors.