Annual Report 2000
The National Archives and Records Administration
Annual Report 2000
This annual report is available in two formats: HTML and PDF (1.5 MB). The HTML text appears below. Only the PDF version, however, contains the tables and charts listed under "Statistical and Financial Reports." If you do not wish to view the entire report in PDF, you may choose to view a smaller file that contains only the "Statistical and Financial Reports" (486 KB).
New Developments Help Safeguard Your Records
Message from the Archivist of the United States
You Can Help Make Freedom's Charters Meaningful
Message from the President of the Foundation for the National Archives
Preserving Our Digital Future
Mining the Archives for "New" History
Our "House Calls" Aid Other Agencies
A First-Ever Century of Photos
We Become a Friend in Deed
Charters of Freedom: Project's Progress
Statistical and Financial Reports (Available in the PDF version [486 KB] only)
Holdings and Use of NARA
Records Center Revolving Fund
Trust Fund and Gift Fund
Records Disposed by NARA Records Centers
Foundation Supporters (Available in the PDF version [130 KB] only)
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is our national record keeper. An independent agency created by statute in 1934, NARA safeguards records of all three branches of the Federal Government. NARA's mission is to ensure that Federal officials and the American public have ready access to essential evidence - records that document the rights of citizens, the actions of government officials, and the national experience.
NARA carries out this mission through a national network of archives and records services facilities stretching from Washington to the West Coast, including 10 Presidential libraries documenting administrations of Presidents back to Herbert Hoover. Additionally, NARA publishes the Federal Register, administers the Information Security Oversight Office, and makes grants for historical documentation through the National Historical Publications and Records
NARA meets thousands of information needs daily, ensuring access to records on which the entitlements of citizens, the credibility of government, and the accuracy of history depend.
Our biggest news in the 2000 fiscal year came from two developments at opposite ends of the time spectrum. We found new ways to preserve and provide access to little known records that are among our newest - and famous records that are among our oldest.
Our most famous records are America's great Charters of Freedom - the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights - dating back to the nation's founding in the 18th century. If you have visited the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, any time in the past half-century, you have seen them in protective glass cases that were state of the art for document preservation when they were made.
In fiscal year 2000 we started replacing those cases, which were beginning to deteriorate, with new ones even more technologically advanced. When we finish in 2003, the Charters will remain safely on display for millions in the 21st century.
At the same time, we made a technological breakthrough for safeguarding modern records. The Federal Government, like most everyone else, is now creating most of its records with computers. But because methods for preserving and providing access to paper records won't work for electronic records, they will disappear unless we create new technologies to save them.
In FY 2000, we joined with partners to create a prototype that shows that an Electronic Records Archives really is possible. And now we are working to build it.
Both developments - our work to save old parchments and new emails alike - are described inside. But why? - why do we go to so much trouble to safeguard such records?
For the same reason that we safeguard millions of other Government records in all kinds of formats.
First, they are your records. That is, they were and are made by officials representing you (and other citizens back through time), appointed or elected, as part of programs that you as a taxpayer helped pay for. They are records that you, the press, your representatives in the Congress, and the Government itself need to understand actions of officials and hold them accountable. They are also records that may document your identity (such as naturalization papers), your entitlements (such as veterans' service records), and even your rights (from the Bill of Rights to the latest freedom-of-information or consumer-protection laws and regulations). And they also document the historical experience of your nation, which, without original records, has little chance of being accurately understood.
In fact, we safeguard such records because they are essential for the functioning of our democracy.
A society whose records are closed cannot be open. A people who cannot document their rights cannot exercise them. A nation without access to its history cannot analyze itself. And a government whose records are lost cannot accountably govern.
Please examine this report with that in mind. It is what motivates us. And it is what gives you a clear, personal stake in our success.
John W. Carlin
Archivist of the United States
Three documents, only six pages. But the great words contained in America's Charters of Freedom - the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights - created our nation and continue to guide its governance. The Foundation for the National Archives has been called upon to play a major role in keeping those historical treasures on display in a meaningful and dramatically improved setting for you and future generations.
For more than 50 years, the Charters of Freedom have been in the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, where millions of visitors have been inspired by them. The Foundation is working to keep that opportunity available to millions more and to make a visit a more exciting experience than ever before.
With appropriations from Congress and the Administration, the Charters' old, deteriorating cases are being replaced with state-of-the-art encasements to protect them on display for decades to come. These Federal funds are also making possible renovation of the National Archives Building, which makes it possible to seize an opportunity to develop an educational component that will allow visitors to understand why the Charters are so important and how they continue to impact our lives today.
Private donors are being asked to help the Foundation to finance a 10,000-square-foot exhibit that will tell the story of the Charters and other records of our Government. Using documents, artifacts, pictorial material, and technologies through which visitors from around the world can interact with the exhibit, we will provide fascinating and enjoyable opportunities to learn about the Charters' roles in our national history and personal lives.
Additionally, private donors are helping us restore the inspiring historic murals around the Charters in the Rotunda. Their restoration will enable visitors to continue to visualize the two great moments when patriots declared independence and established our Government.
Also, we are working to raise private funds to help finance a new theater within the National Archives Building so visitors can see films, lectures, and discussions about the Charters, other historical treasures housed in the Archives, and discoveries historians make in our records.
This year, the Foundation sponsored a preview breakfast for the Emancipation Proclamation, which was on special exhibition for the Millennium Celebration, and a dinner for the Senate and a reception for the House of Representatives to open the "Treasures of Congress" exhibit. The Foundation continues to support educational resource books, such as The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson, containing facsimile documents, learning guides, and lesson plans, for use in high schools around the country.
In this report, we gratefully acknowledge supporters of these programs by name. Through the National Archives' site on the World Wide Web, www.archives.gov, you, too, can learn how to participate in the Charters of Freedom Project. Or call NARA's Development Office (1-888-809-3126). NARA and the Foundation heartily welcome your involvement.
Lawrence F. O'Brien III
Foundation for the National Archives
Throughout the Federal Government, at an ever-increasing pace, thousands of records and documents - eventually headed for preservation at the National Archives and Records Administration - are being created daily with technologies that will probably be outdated before the records ever reach us.
Our challenge at NARA: How to preserve, quickly, so many different kinds of records in so many forms and make them accessible far into the future with computers and software not yet imagined.
Our response is to build an Electronic Records Archives (ERA), an archives of the future, where the records of digital government would be assembled, managed, preserved - and made accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
We are not facing this challenge alone. This year, we became a co-sponsor, with the National Science Foundation, of the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure, which the NSF created to take advantage of emerging opportunities in high-speed computing and communications. The partnership will pursue research in leading-edge information technologies needed to build the ERA. We also entered into a long-range agreement with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.
This puts our efforts to build an ERA at the highest level in the nation's research community, using some of the most powerful computers in the world. And already, this research - conducted mainly at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California at San Diego - is paying off.
We take seriously our stewardship of the documents entrusted to us and our responsibility for their authenticity. That means retaining not only the information in a document but also its structure, context, and appearance. This challenge is being faced by a major international research initiative involving researchers from 13 countries, the InterPARES project, in which NARA is a partner.
Meanwhile, experts have learned how to separate the information to be archived from the hardware and software that created it. To do so, they are using a new computer language called eXtensible Markup Language, or XML. It is a way of marking up electronic documents with easily understood tags instead of coding dependent on what will some day be obsolete software. XML will not only retain the information but will provide a detailed description of the document. This will enable us to find and accurately display records, preserve the original ordering of records in files, and understand how activities were carried out over time.
We also plan to make our research results adaptable for use by smaller archives, such as state and local governments, universities, libraries, and other private institutions. The National Historical
Publications and Records Commission, the grant-making arm of NARA, has made a $300,000 3-year "scalability" grant to the Supercomputer Center to explore adapting the technology for smaller archives.
Still, there are many challenges before the ERA is realized: How can ever-changing web sites be preserved? How can geospatial data, such as satellite imagery, be preserved? What is the best way to set up an archives at multiple locations and be accessible everywhere? How can we preserve authentic electronic records in a way that allows researchers to use continually improving technologies for finding, retrieving, and using them?
Research with our partners, at San Diego, Georgia Tech, the University of Maryland, and other sites, is seeking answers to these and other important questions. But already, it has put us well along the road toward an ERA that can close gaps created by technology, physical distance, and - most important - time.
To find out more. . .
- The ERA project is explained more fully at www.archives.gov/electronic_records_archives. There, you will find links to other sites that have information about electronic records.
- The National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure's web site is at www.npaci.edu. The San Diego Supercomputer Center's site is at www.sdsc.edu.
- The ERA is an integral part of NARA's Strategic Plan. Read the updated plan at www.archives.gov/about_us/strategic_planning_and_reporting/
Every day, researchers line up at NARA facilities to sort through our paper holdings, scroll through our microfilm, and, increasingly, mine our electronic records. We continue to yield more history for them, as restrictions on some records are lifted and other records are found - or rediscovered. This year was no exception.
As part of a Government-wide effort to declassify World War II records, NARA released 400,000 pages of records from the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency. Evidence that Allied intelligence operatives knew of Hitler's plans to get rid of Italian Jews during the war made front-page news. The documents were declassified under the auspices of the Nazi War Criminal Records Interagency Working Group (IWG), chaired by NARA.
Cold war records also were released, such as those of the grand jury proceedings in the Alger Hiss case in the late 1940s, which included testimony by then-Representative Richard Nixon. Hiss, a high-ranking State Department official accused of passing secrets to Communist informants, was eventually convicted of perjury.
Nixon's words as President continued to be in demand, and NARA put on sale for the first time 264 hours of tape recordings of some of the most famous Watergate-related conversations. More files from the Nixon Presidency, principally documents relating to national security, were also released.
The spoken words of other Presidents were also available. President Lyndon B. Johnson can be heard discussing civil rights and Vietnam on tapes of telephone conversations in early 1965 released by the Johnson Library. President Dwight D. Eisenhower is heard expressing disdain for gossip on some dictabelt recordings of several Oval Office conversations in 1955 made public by the Eisenhower Library. And President John F. Kennedy can be heard on more than 9 hours of tapes of conversations and meetings from November 1962 released by the Kennedy Library.
The Reagan Library's response to a reporter's request for records revealed how the President was prodded in late 1984 by the leader of the opposing party at the time, House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, to persuade his close ally, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, to allow a U.S. and Irish role in efforts to bring peace to Northern Ireland.
Archivist Timothy Rives, in NARA's Central Plains regional archives, discovered documents that tell how President Ulysses S. Grant in 1876 became the first, and so far only, President to testify voluntarily in a criminal trial, part of the famous Whiskey Ring trials. The story was detailed by Rives in the Fall 2000 issue of Prologue, NARA's quarterly magazine.
Prologue's Fall issue also displayed and provided background on a plan, recently discovered in NARA holdings, for the invasion of South Korea in June 1950, the event that began the Korean War. Handwritten in Russian, it detailed the moves of the North Korean army early in the war.
On other fronts, documents from several locations provided new information to the controversy over whether Thomas Jefferson fathered children with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings. Records from NARA also showed how District of Columbia slaveowners loaned their slaves out to help build the new symbols of freedom, the White House and U.S. Capitol, in the early 1800s.
The boxes, files, and folders that have come to NARA over the years - "the people's records" - continue to provide new information about the individuals and events that have shaped our nation. Stay tuned!
To find out more. . .
- Some of NARA's historical holdings are available online by clicking on "Research Room" at www.archives.gov. There you will find links to the IWG and the Watergate tapes web pages. Full information about the Nixon Presidential Materials Project may be found at www.archives.gov/nixon.
- Information about audio recordings of Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson can be found on their respective Presidential library home pages that are linked on www.archives.gov.
- Prologue magazine is available by subscription at $16 annually. To subscribe, see the Prologue site at www.archives.gov/publications/prologue or call 1-866-272-6272.
Although the National Archives and Records Administration is best known as the custodian of famous and historic documents, our bread-and-butter work involves a less glamorous but equally important business.
NARA facilities around the country store the records of hundreds of Federal departments and agencies. There, we provide "ready access to essential evidence" to the agencies themselves as well as to the Congress, historians, journalists, lawyers, and, of course, ordinary citizens looking for answers to difficult questions or seeking to establish rights to a benefit.
What NARA does, long before records arrive at our various storage facilities, is to help the agencies organize, appraise, and schedule their records for their ultimate disposal or shipment to us.
In the last few years, we intensified that assistance to agencies in the Washington, DC, area and in regions throughout the country under our Targeted Assistance initiative. Through Targeted Assistance, we give direct help to agencies that have critical records management needs, particularly those with valuable records at risk. Our staffers are like doctors doing house calls - they spend time in the Washington and field offices of our client agencies and work closely with their records managers.
While at the agencies, we do such things as train personnel, help plan records inventories, assist in scheduling records for disposal or transfer to NARA, and aid in writing records management plans. We give high priority in Targeted Assistance to projects involving electronic records. Also, we reduce the time needed for appraising and approving records disposition schedules.
To meet the demands for Targeted Assistance this year, we had 30 of our records management experts assisting 54 agencies on 173 projects in Washington and throughout the country. This compares to 9 NARA staff experts working with 15 agencies on 16 projects overall last year.
The result has been an overall improvement in the Federal Government's ability to identify, schedule, and track its records. Our work has drawn strong praise from agencies we have helped.
"The training you provided to our support staff will go a long way toward ensuring that our records are maintained properly and safely," wrote the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York to our Northeast regional office. The Special Trustee for American Indians in the Department of the Interior wrote: "The working relationship that we entered into with NARA has been exceptional and beneficial." An official of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service said our assistance had "done much to enhance the reputation of the National Archives and Records Administration."
An official at the Johnson Space Center in Houston said our staffer helping with a project involving the International Space Station had "represented NARA with a professionalism they should be proud of." And a Department of Transportation official wrote that "the 'hands-on' help" provided by our Targeted Assistance initiative was "exactly what we needed."
As you can see, Targeted Assistance allows us to resolve problems with agencies' recordkeeping at a much earlier stage than in the past, thus helping to maintain the integrity of "the people's records."
But we were especially heartened by the words of a Federal Emergency Management Agency official who wrote that a Targeted Assistance staffer "inspired our entire staff to become involved in the arduous but necessary work of inspecting, analyzing, disposing, archiving, and setting up our records."
Now that made our day!
To find out more . . .
- Valuable resources for records managers can be found at our Records Management site at www.archives.gov/records_management/.
- Records management publications, such as Agency Recordkeeping Requirements and Disposition of Federal Records, are available from NARA via the World Wide Web. Go to www.archives.gov/publications/index.html for a complete list. Some publications are available in hard copy.
To enter the vastness of the still picture collection of the National Archives and Records Administration is to step into our national memory.
From depictions of the horror of war to the Snake River flowing out of the Tetons, from footprints on the moon to an atomic bomb's mushroom cloud, from the leaf floating against darkness to the shoulder of a powerhouse mechanic - you are astonished by the vast scope of the collection.
Two years ago, Bruce Bustard, a curator at NARA, was assigned the daunting task of sorting through our still picture holdings: more than 9 million photographs in the stacks in the Washington area, along with 5 million more in our Presidential libraries, and thousands more in regional records services facilities. For an exhibit, he had to choose a scant 190 to stand for American life in the 20th century, the first century to be photographed from beginning to end.
"Choosing from among NARA's millions of photographs was a huge challenge," says Bustard. "I tried to select images that not only captured the major events and trends of the century but that will surprise visitors and get them to think about the last 100 years in new ways."
The result was "Picturing the Century: One Hundred Years of Photography
from the National Archives," an exhibit that opened in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, on March 9, 1999, and will run through July 4, 2001. Interspersed throughout the exhibit are eight portfolios from some of the most renowned photographers of the century, including Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange.
"Picturing" has been a smashing success and is our first exhibit to travel overseas. A version of it was developed with the Department of State for showings throughout the Middle East - Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Israel, and Turkey - as well as India and Pakistan. Another traveling version of "Picturing" was developed with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibit Service and travels around the country to museums, historical societies, and other venues, including the Presidential libraries.
The exhibit's catalog, now in its third printing, was recently chosen as one of the "Best of the Best from the University Presses" by the American Library Association and added to the New York Public Library's "2000 Books for the Teen-Age List." It has also spawned a popular screensaver that incorporates 22 images from the collection. And it is enjoying another life in newspapers as "Picturing the Century for Kids" in the nationally syndicated Mini-Page.
Two other major exhibits this year brought visitors to the National Archives Building. "Treasures of Congress" drew on the holdings of our Center for Legislative Archives and presented a sampling of the landmark documents created by, or delivered to, Congress. "American Originals" was a collection of some of our nation's most significant documents.
The Presidential libraries mounted numerous exhibits as well. The Bush Library had several exhibits on the cold war. The Ford Museum opened "The World of Lewis and Clark." The Hoover Library offered "American Women," highlighting more than 100 women in history. Also opening were "Cast for a President: Sculpture from the Reagan Library Collection" and "America's First Ladies," an Eisenhower Library exhibit of reproductions of 29 inaugural gowns.
Our national memory continues to prove limitless. And it continues to delight, entertain, and teach thousands of NARA's visitors in our facilities and online.
To find out more . . .
- "Picturing the Century," "Treasures of Congress," and "American Originals" can be viewed in special online versions at www.archives.gov/exhibit_hall.
- Coming events at NARA in the Washington area are listed in the monthly Calendar of Events, at www.archives.gov/about_us/calendar_of_events. To get on its mailing list, write to Calendar of Events (NPOL), 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001. For exhibits in the Presidential libraries, go to www.archives.gov/presidential_libraries, then click on the Presidential Libraries you want to visit.
- The catalog for "Picturing" is available for $19.95 by calling 1-866-272-6272 or going to www.archives.gov/publications/how_to_obtain_publications.html. The screensaver can be previewed and ordered at www.secondnaturecd.com/piccenbynata.html.
One of the proudest moments in Berjouhi Sherian's life was the day she became a U.S. citizen.
More than 70 years later, she still had the yellowing program of the ceremony at the Federal courthouse in Chicago. She still had the list of "honored new citizens" from her native Armenia. What she no longer had, however, was her certificate of naturalization.
Now, this 91-year-old U.S. citizen, nearly blind, and suffering from dementia, faced a legal obstacle as she tried to claim Medicaid benefits for the nursing care that she so sorely needed. Without proof of citizenship, her granddaughter was told, there would be no Medicaid benefits.
There ensued a frustrating journey through a maze of public and private institutions for Mrs. Sherian's granddaughter - until she came to the National Archives and Records Administration. Our staffers accepted what they call a "rights request" for documents to establish a citizen's right to a government benefit. It's something we do day in and day out across the country for thousands of citizens every year.
Mrs. Sherian was born in 1908 in Harput, Armenia. During the Turkish massacres in 1915, her family, the Harootunians, escaped to France, then settled in Fresno, CA. When Mrs. Sherian's husband died, many of her papers, including her cherished naturalization certificate, were lost. When her granddaughter, Lusya Schinelli, began looking for government aid to pay for care in an assisted-living facility, Federal officials asked for proof of citizenship. Lusya didn't have any.
"They said to call the INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service] and get the proper forms," Lusya recalls. She was told it would cost $135 and take 2 years to obtain a copy of the certificate.
After exhausting other sources, including the Governor's office, numerous city clerk offices, and church records, Lusya finally turned to NARA's Pacific Region in San Bruno, CA.
"I searched our San Francisco Naturalization Index and our INS Indexes for both her grandmother's maiden and married names," archives aide Michael Frush recalls. He then called Bill Doty, at our Pacific Region's facility in Laguna Niguel, CA, because Mrs. Sherian had lived in both southern as well as northern California.
Doty remembers the call. "San Bruno had provided the name of Mrs. Sherian's late husband, hoping that her citizenship could be confirmed on his petition," he says. "I located a petition for the husband, which made incidental reference to an earlier petition to naturalize that had been 'Denied for Want of Prosecution.'"
Doty discovered that the denied 1945 petition included a note that Mrs. Sherian had been naturalized on September 21, 1926. "Simple mathematics told me that one naturalized as early as 1926 was probably a 'derivative' - that is, naturalized as an underage child as part of her father's final papers," he says.
A call was placed to archivist Glenn Longacre in our Great Lakes Region in Chicago, whose area of expertise covered derivative citizenship documentation. Glenn checked his indexes under Mrs. Sherian's maiden name and located her derivative citizenship.
Lusya got proof of her grandmother's citizenship just ahead of the deadline. And Mrs. Sherian got Medicaid benefits.
Lusya has praise for the "wonderful" staff at NARA: "They understood the urgency of our situation. They continued digging, even when it appeared that there was no information to be found. We never could have gotten this documentation without them."
To find out more. . .
- Our popular Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives is being extensively revised and expanded and will be available this spring. For details, call 1-866-272-6272, or check with NARA publications shops in Washington and College Park and other NARA facilities around the country.
- Start your genealogical search at NARA's Genealogy Page on the World Wide Web at www.archives.gov/research_room/genealogy.
- NARA's regional records services facilities have many documents you might need to trace your ancestry or establish your right to a government benefit. Most of them now have extended hours on some evenings and Saturdays. For locations, see the listing in the back of this publication or view their web pages at www.archives.gov/facilities.
They came by the thousands to the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, to see something that was not new or unfamiliar to them at all.
They had probably seen it before, the original or a copy. Maybe they studied it or memorized parts of it. Or maybe they cited it in term papers. Or arguments over politics. Or legal briefs. Or postcards.
It was the Constitution of the United States. To be exact, it was Page 2 of the Constitution, the one with the list of the powers granted to Congress, and the beginning of Article II, which vests executive authority in the President.
For 3 days in September 2000, around Constitution Day, Page 2, which is rarely exhibited, was on public display for the first time after having conservation treatment and being installed in a new, space-age encasement.
The display marked another milestone in our drive to preserve the nation's Charters of Freedom - the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights - for many generations to come. We are removing the Charters from their deteriorating 1952 encasements, which were state-of-the-art nearly a half-century ago, giving them any necessary conservation treatment, and placing them in new encasements we plan to return to a renovated Rotunda in 2003.
In 2000, the Constitution's Transmittal Page and Page 2 were removed from their old encasements. Overall, the parchment skins on which these documents are written were in good condition, with no evidence of adverse effects from their nearly half-century in the original encasements. The text is legible, despite some ink loss and flaking, which occurred as a result of handling over many years before the documents came into our custody. Loose flakes of ink were attached to the parchment with small amounts of consolidant, applied with a fine brush, to assure that no further ink loss occurs.
Page 3 was removed from its encasement later, and after the Rotunda is closed on July 5, 2001, for renovations, Pages 1 and 4, along with the Bill of Rights and the Declaration, will be removed and undergo the same treatment.
The Charters project began when we noticed signs of deterioration on the inner surfaces of the glass of the encasements. Although there was no visible evidence of damage to the documents, there was concern that prolonged contact between the parchment and the glass could be damaging to the Charters. So we decided on new encasements.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology was enlisted to build the encasements. Each one is made from a single block of titanium, with 24-karat gold plating to blend in with the decor of the Rotunda. Attached to each are devices to monitor what's going on inside the sealed environment, which has been purged of air and replaced with humidified argon. Each parchment lies on pure cellulose paper with enough surface texture to hold the document in place. Each encasement is mounted on a stand whose height and angle have been carefully planned to accommodate persons in wheelchairs.
When they are returned to the Rotunda, all four pages of the Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights and the Declaration will be on permanent display together for the first time. And once again, thousands will come to see these cherished friends, these parchments that undergird our rights, our independence, and our Government.
To find out more...
- The Charters themselves, along with a special exhibit on the reencasement project, will be on display in the Rotunda of the National Archives Building until July 4, 2001.
- For the full background on the Charters project as well as their long history, see our special Charters web site at www.archives.gov/exhibit-hall/charters_of_freedom/
- To help with the Charters of Freedom Project, contact Naomi Revzin, NARA's Director of Development, at 301-837-2097 or 1-888-809-3126.
In 1997 we first issued our Strategic Plan, Ready Access to Essential Evidence: The Strategic Plan of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1997-2007. For the last 3 years this plan has been our agency's guidepost as we worked to fulfill our mission of "ready access to essential evidence" that documents the rights of American citizens, the actions of Federal officials, and the national experience.
However, the world of Government records and archives does not stand still. After 3 years, our plan needed updating.
Although the Government Performance and Results Act requires all Federal agencies to update their plans every 3 years, we also wanted to update our plan to assess the new conditions facing NARA today and to build on what we have learned so far by implementing our original plan.
We solicited input through public meetings, articles, email, and our web site from our stakeholders and customers and our staff. We heard from state archives, veterans' groups, universities, advisory groups, and Federal agencies. Among the individual contributors were archivists, records managers, genealogists, historians, librarians, and concerned citizens. All of the input we received helped us to improve our plan.
We believed the basic direction of the plan was solid, and the comments we received confirmed that. We did not change our mission or our four strategic goals:
- Essential evidence will be created, identified, appropriately scheduled, and managed for as long as needed.
- Essential evidence will be easy to access regardless of where it is or where users are for as long as needed.
- All records will be preserved in an appropriate environment for use as long as needed.
- NARA's capabilities for making the changes necessary to realize our vision will continuously expand.
What we did do was update our Strategic Plan in five ways.
- We acknowledged new developments.
We have received funding increases from the Congress and the Administration that have allowed us to initiate several important efforts. We now emphasize Targeted Assistance, in the form of on-site NARA staff assistance, to help other Federal agencies manage their records. And cutting-edge technological research has demonstrated the feasibility of an Electronic Records Archives that will preserve the electronic records being created now and in the future by government at all levels.
- We acknowledged those things that now are achievements rather than objectives.
We have designed new space-age encasements for the Charters of Freedom - the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights - and have begun transferring pages from the old, deteriorating encasements to the new encasements. They will be returned to a renovated Rotunda in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.
We have put online on our web site (www.archives.gov) more and more of the publications produced by the Federal Register that document the daily activities of government. And we have launched our own Records Center Program, which offers, for a fee, a full range of records storage, retrieval, and related services to other Federal agencies for records still in their legal custody.
- We identified the current status of activities in which progress is under way.
To meet our need for more space, we are in the process of renovating the National Archives Building, modernizing the Truman Presidential Library, and addressing space needs in Atlanta and Anchorage. We are improving our operations at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis so that we can offer better and faster service to veterans who are seeking copies of their military records. And we moved from the design to the testing phase of our project to build an Internet-accessible catalog of all our holdings nationwide, our Archival Research Catalog, so that anyone in any location at any time can search NARA for the records he or she needs.
- We updated the details.
We removed references no longer relevant and substituted current information for dated examples, statistics, and activities. For example, we included the mushrooming increase in the volume of use of our web site offerings and the increased volume and kinds of electronic records with which we must deal.
- We removed and added objectives.
We have removed objectives that have proven infeasible or unnecessary, such as the consolidation of our holdings in just a few facilities. At the same time, we have added objectives, such as providing archival quality space in St. Louis for military service records of 20th-century veterans that we recently determined should be kept permanently.
You can read our updated Strategic Plan for yourself on our web site at www.archives.gov/about_us/strategic_planning_and_reporting/
2000_strategic_plan.html. Printed copies are available by contacting the Policy and Communications Staff at 301-837-1850.
Even the best Strategic Plan is meaningless if no action is taken to implement it. When you visit our web site, you can also see how we are doing on an annual basis in meeting the goals and objectives of our plan. Each fiscal year we must prepare an Annual Performance Plan based on our Strategic Plan. And at the end of the year, we must report to the President, the Congress, and the public on how we did in an Annual Performance Report. These plans and reports are available on our web site at www.archives.gov/about_us/strategic_planning_and_reporting/
We also welcome your continued input into our planning and reporting process. If you have any comments on our Strategic Plan, Annual Performance Plans, or Annual Performance Reports - or even this Annual Report - please share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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