About the National Archives

Customer Service Standards


Our Mission

The National Archives and Records Administration serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government, ensuring that the people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. We ensure continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. We support democracy, promote civic education, and facilitate historical understanding of our national experience.

Our Customers

We serve a broad spectrum of American society, as well as researchers worldwide:

  • genealogists and family historians
  • veterans, current and former Federal employees, their families, and authorized representatives
  • academic, business, occupational, and historical researchers
  • publication and broadcast journalists
  • Congress, the White House, the Courts, and other public officials
  • Federal Government agencies and the individuals they serve
  • state and local government personnel
  • professional organizations and their members
  • supporters’ groups, foundations, and donors of historical materials
  • students and educators (K–16)
  • general public, including museum visitors.

Our Customer Service Values

  • We will treat all of our customers with courtesy.
  • We will meet or beat our established deadlines for providing customer service.
  • We will provide high-quality service by knowledgeable staff.
  • We will regularly assess our customers’ needs and level of satisfaction with our services and use that feedback to improve our service.

Our Customer Service Commitment

Our goal is to provide services according to these Customer Service Standards:

If You Need Information About the National Archives and Records Administration . . .

You will be able to obtain timely and up-to-date information about NARA, our services, and holdings on our Internet web site, www.archives.gov; in our printed publications; or by contacting one of our offices by mail, telephone, fax, or e-mail. If you ask NARA staff or volunteers a question, you will receive accurate information. If the person you ask cannot answer the question, you will be directed to someone who can.

If You Visit One of Our Web Sites . . .

You will find it to be usable, accessible, current, attractive, secure, technically robust, and compliant with legal requirements and Government guidelines. You will find ever-greater electronic access to our services, resources, and informational products. We continue to expand your opportunities to access our resources by

  • adding more information about our records holdings to our Online Catalog;
  • increasing the number of online educational materials that support classroom use of historical data and documents in accordance with national curriculum standards;
  • developing more online exhibits to reflect the rich variety of our archival and Presidential materials holdings;
  • providing more online opportunities to request information, services, and products;
  • increasing online access to electronic archival records in our holdings; and
  • digitizing archival materials of considerable interest to the public.

If You Call or Visit One of Our Facilities . . .

You will find NARA staff or volunteers available to promptly and courteously assist you during our business hours. Our facilities will be clean, accessible, and properly illuminated. Our public access hours will be prominently posted at all sites and noted in our regulations, brochures, and other information sources.

If You Come to Do Research at One of Our Facilities . . .

We will provide the support and information you need to learn how to search and request records. You will receive the records you request for use in our archival research rooms within one hour of your request or, in those research rooms that retrieve records according to a fixed time schedule, within one hour of the next retrieval time. If a delay is encountered, you will be notified of the problem and given an indication of when the records will be available.

In records center facilities across the country, the records you requested in advance of your scheduled visit will be waiting for you at the appointed time.

If You Write to Us About Our Holdings . . .

You will be sent a response to your written request about our holdings within 10 working days after we receive your letter, fax, or e-mail. If we cannot provide a full response within that time, we will let you know that we have received your request and tell you how long we expect it will take before we can provide a full reply.

If You Place Fixed-Fee Reproduction Orders Through Our Order Fulfillment and Accounting System . . .

We will provide you with the best possible copies. You will receive the copies within 20 working days after we receive your order. We will acknowledge receipt of your order and tell you how long we expect it will take before we can provide the requested copies.

If a Federal Agency Requests Records on Your Behalf . . .

The requested records will be ready when promised.

If You Request Records under Provisions of the Freedom of Information Act . . .

You will receive a written response or acknowledgement within 20 working days after the request is received by the NARA office that maintains the records. If you appeal any of the determinations made about your Freedom of Information request, your appeal will be answered within 20 working days of its receipt by the Deputy Archivist.

If You Visit the National Archives Experience in Washington, DC . . .

You will find us open to serve you by displaying the Charters of Freedom—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights—and presenting other documentary and interactive exhibits and programs 363 days each year (closed only on Thanksgiving Day and December 25). During the peak visitor season, we will extend our hours for your convenience. There will be signs and maps to help you navigate the building and inform you of available programs, features, services, and wait times. You will find the National Archives Experience accessible and informative, with exhibits that are engaging, thoughtful, informative, factually accurate, and fairly presented.

If You Visit One of Our Presidential Library Museums . . .

You will find us open to serve you with knowledgeable staff or volunteers 362 days each year (closed only on Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1) and with information readily available about our programs and services. You will find our museums accessible and informative, with exhibits and programs that are engaging, thoughtful, informative, factually accurate, and fairly presented.

If You Attend One of Our Workshops . . .

You will find our presentations on records management, archives administration, genealogical and archival research, and teaching with documents to be professional, informative, accurate, and useful. Our workshops will be staffed by qualified and knowledgeable presenters and will meet your expectations for punctuality, accuracy, and relevance. Upon completion of a workshop, you will have the information to help you understand the principles and methods discussed and apply them confidently to issues in your area of interest.

If You Attend One of Our Public Programs . . .

You will find our lecture, film, performance, tour, or special event to be professional, timely, engaging, and informative. It will meet your expectations to better understand the holdings of NARA and the impact of these records on our democracy and on national life. It will be executed with a level of professionalism that matches or exceeds the quality of the best museums in the region.

Program brochures and associated material will be both informative and attractive. Speakers will be well prepared for the audience, and attention will be paid to ensuring properly operating microphones and A/V equipment, appropriate introductions, and excellent stage organization. The process for making reservations will be easy and reliable, and information about the content and logistics of programs will be in predictable locations and easy to understand.

If You Attend One of Our Programs for Students and Educators . . .

You will find the presentation to be lively, informative, and professional. The content and presentation will match the educational level of the student attendees and meet national curriculum standards. Related teaching materials will be informative, attractive, and suitable for classroom use.

If You Need Information About Government Rules and Announcements . . .

You will find timely information, every business day, in the Federal Register, on

  • Presidential proclamations and Executive orders,
  • proposed agency rules and final regulations,
  • public meetings, and
  • Federal grants.

This information is published in print and in electronic form by the Government Printing Office (www.gpoaccess.gov) and at www.regulations.gov, which provides access to proposed and final regulations Government-wide.

If Things Go Wrong . . .

You can contact us. If our service has not matched our values and standards for customer service, we want to know so that we can do something about it and get it right the next time. If we cannot solve your problem immediately, you can expect a follow-up response within seven working days.

Here are four ways to share your concerns:

  • Discuss the problem with the person who served you.

    or

  • Speak or write to the supervisor in charge. The names and addresses of our officials are posted in our research rooms, offices, and on our web site at www.archives.gov.

    or

  • Send a message electronically from any computer connected to the Internet by using our web form at http://www.archives.gov/contact/inquire-form.html. Your message will be routed to the unit within NARA that handles the service in question.

    or

  • Use our Suggestion/Complaint comment form (NA Form 14045). Paper copies are available in all our facilities. You can mail the form or drop it in the box provided in each facility.

Revised March 2007.

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