The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced the release of its Third Open Government plan, which outlines a series of initiatives that the agency will take over the next three years to increase transparency, participation, and collaboration in an effort to create a more open federal government.
“In our new plan we focus our efforts to engage the public in more than 160 external projects on more than 15 social media platforms, as well as through our public events, educational programs, Research Services, and Presidential Libraries,” wrote U.S. Archivist David Ferriero in a May 30 blog post.
In April, NARA sought feedback from the public, stakeholders, and employees in the development of the plan, which incorporates more than 50 comments and suggestions, along with agency responses, on ways to meet the plan objectives.
In the area of records management, the plan draws heavily from initiatives already established by the agency, including the Managing Government Records Directive and various
electronic records management best practices. However, the plan anticipates that federal agencies will continue to face difficulties in complying with records management requirements.
“Records and information are national assets essential for transparency in an open government,” the report states. “Holding heads of agencies and senior leaders accountable for their management and protection by measuring how well this is being accomplished is the purpose behind the self-assessments,” which agencies submit in compliance with records management requirements in the Federal Records Act, the E-Government Act of 2002, and related regulations.
In a letter providing input on the development of the 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.
The letter included proposals for the development of professional standards for records managers, more rigorous assessments and continuous monitoring, and increased engagement with the private and nonprofit sectors to address budgetary and implementation challenges.
Resources will continue to be a challenge as NARA works to promote innovation and best practices. In late June, the Appropriations Committees in both the House and Senate advanced funding bills that essentially freeze NARA’s budget for fiscal year 2015. The House bill recommends $360 million to fund the agency’s basic operations, while the Senate version recommends $362.2 million, which is $6.4 million below the fiscal year 2014 funding level.
In the committee report to accompany the House bill, lawmakers commended NARA for finding savings within its operations. “In times of budget constraints, the Archives is an example of an agency that is actively saving the American taxpayer money, while still ably executing their mission."