March 22, 2000
Announcement by Archivist of the U.S. John Carlin of a Draft Work Plan for NARA's Appraisal and Scheduling Review Project
Last year, I announced the beginning of a major project to review and, if necessary, reinvent the policies and processes for the scheduling and appraisal of Federal records in all media. I explained that the responsibility for approving the disposition of records is the most critical statutory responsibility I have as Archivist of the United States, because it determines how long records must be kept to protect individual rights, provide accountability in government, and document the national experience.
The scheduling process developed during the 20th century and currently used by the Federal Government is based primarily on paper-based record keeping systems as they were used at mid-century. The evolution of the modern Federal office and the transformation of work brought about by the spread of computer technology require that NARA and other agencies rethink how we conduct both the management and the disposition of Federal records. Although the Federal Records Act recognizes that records are created and maintained in a variety of media, most of the work processes developed for managing records were developed for paper records, and the treatment of additional media has been added as new technologies created records in new media. During much of the 20th century this was appropriate, since most agency records were created and maintained in paper form.
The reality at the beginning of the 21st century is that most records are created electronically and may be maintained in a variety of media. Agencies need to know how to manage the disposition of all documentation they create, regardless of media, in light of current record keeping practices. We will evaluate our current scheduling and appraisal polices and process in the context of this new environment.
Recognizing that the gathering of relevant information would need to precede any policy reconsideration, I asked Deputy Archivist Lewis Bellardo to lead a preliminary fact-finding effort and provide overall coordination of the project. With input from the Leadership Team and other NARA staff, he has prepared a formal project plan for this undertaking and a draft work plan for the engagement of one or more public policy consultants to help with our information gathering and policy analysis. We are seeking comment on the draft work plan from potential vendors, Government agencies, the public, and our staff.
For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail.