About the National Archives

State of the Archives Remarks of Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero at the Archivist’s Achievement Awards ceremony at the National Archives at College Park.

December 8, 2011

Who is the Archivist?

David S. Ferriero
David S. Ferriero The Archivist of the United States is the head of our agency, appointed by the President of the United States.

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What's an Archivist?

For those of you who might be tweeting my remarks, I’m about to make your task very easy for you. You can sum up what I’m going to say today in just ten characters… including an exclamation point: Thank you!

I’m here this afternoon to express my profound appreciation, my heartfelt thanks for the terrific work you do—which I have seen firsthand in almost all of our sites.

When I came to the Archives two years ago, I had heard that the employees here were dedicated, hard-working, professional and loyal. Every day since then, as I’ve wandered around and talked with you and your customers or users I see more and more proof of that.

I’ve also had an opportunity to visit other agencies and I can honestly say that you are the most dedicated of all Federal employees and have the most pride in what you do. Every one of you also makes a difference every single day in the lives of American citizens.

The list of your accomplishments over the past 12 months alone is long and varied. You helped veterans and their families get the benefits they are entitled to; you contributed to making government more transparent by publishing federal rules and regulations in the Federal Register every day; you tracked down records that were stolen from our holdings; you solved historical mysteries for scholars and researchers, and you made history relevant and come alive for millions of students and visitors to our buildings across the country and to our social media sites.

To celebrate what you’ve done, today is dedicated to all of you—in gratitude for your public service, to acknowledge that each one of you is a valuable member of the Archives team, and to celebrate your collective achievements.

We have asked a lot from you in 2011. We asked you to continue to excel at your jobs, we asked you to be flexible and be open to change in work processes and to think differently about how you saw the organization. In spite of challenges, you rose to the occasion and responded positively. Because of you, I have never been more proud to be Archivist of the United States.

One of the best ways I know to celebrate your contributions is to publically acknowledge some of the accomplishments of our colleagues with the Archivist’s Award Ceremony. This year’s awards, I think, accurately reflect our mission of collecting, protecting, and promoting the use of the records of our country.

I am especially pleased that they also reflect the values which you helped craft just about a year ago.
They demonstrate examples of collaboration—across the agency, across Government, and with our peers. They reflect a spirit of innovation—examples of new ways of addressing old problems or heading off a potential problem by rethinking processes and procedures. And they all portray a learning agency–focused on continuous improvement and obsessed with getting better and better.

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