NARA 101, PART 8. Research Services
1. Executive for Research Services
- Ensures delivery of efficient, effective world-class services and products, in person, online, and by mail, relating to NARA’s accessioned Federal and donated records, resulting in customer satisfaction.
- Provides executive direction to the Deputy Executive for Archival Operations.
- Supports the front-line teams of Research Services and their management, encouraging their authority to propose process improvement and services development/delivery for better customer service. Promotes better alignment of agency priorities with plans, programs, and operations of the Preservation Programs Division.
- Leads Office-wide efforts to collect, organize, and communicate feedback from customers to inform Research Services’ planning and operations and NARA-wide innovation, public access, and digitization strategies.
- Manages ad hoc teams, consisting of Research Services staff nationwide that bring additional focus to addressing the needs and satisfaction of research customer groups.
- Drives collaboration with the Deputy Executive for Archival Operations and Research Services division directors to collectively ensure that input from customers about services and products needed is considered and, as much as possible, drives program priorities. Defines and facilitates a nationwide program to improve relations with Research Services’ customers, encouraging customer engagement to identify requirements and potential methods and solutions regarding access to records and information about NARA records. Conducts, coordinates, and oversees special studies, analyses, and projects aimed at identifying and producing services and products that meet the needs of Research Services’ customers.
- Ensures that the “open NARA” principle of seeking input and participation from stakeholders and customers (internal and external) is actively pursued, and that the input is considered in making decisions.
- Ensures program coordination and direction by collaborating and consulting with the Archivist, Deputy Archivist, the Chief Operating Officer (COO), the Chief of Management and Administration (CMA), colleague executives, and staff across NARA.
- Participates in internal customer service councils and meetings chaired by the COO. Evaluates feedback from key subordinates and considers evaluation reports from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), NARA’s Inspector General (OIG), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and other relevant bodies in making decisions.
- Participates in NARA’s Management Team, shaping NARA’s strategic direction and producing practical and creative high-level approaches to address related matters such as: agency-wide aligned outcomes/goals and priorities, customer- and stakeholder-focused needs and expectations, internal change management, employee satisfaction, outreach and relationship-building, “one-voice” communication, and problem resolution.
- Chief of Staff
- Develops Research Services Executive level operational plans in consultation with the Executive, COO’s Accountability staff, and division directors; analyzes trends in records use; conducts capacity planning; manages the office’s administrative, training, and support functions; coordinates as needed with other NARA offices in support of program objectives; and serves as the office’s administrative unit keeping official program files reflecting the overall program. Facilitates communication and workplace culture activities across Research Services.
- Plans, directs, and coordinates the administrative, training, and support functions of Research Services.
- Performs overall office-level administrative and training support services, including procurement, scheduling of training, and coordination of Research Services’ interests with other NARA offices on facility, space, personnel, and financial matters.
- Develops, coordinates, and monitors Research Services’ planning activities for its operating work plan and for NARA’s annual performance plan, and develops procedures for tracking its performance.
- Coordinates Research Services’ management internal controls program.
2. Preservation Programs Division
In collaboration with units across NARA ensures the preservation of holdings of all media types; develops preservation approaches and solutions that are technically sound, practical, and affordable for NARA program implementation, and that align with agency priorities; and formulates national preservation policies with the input of other NARA units.
- Program-level functions
- Develops and recommends long-range preservation plans and policy for Federal, Presidential, and Legislative records and donated materials. Collaborates on same with other offices across NARA as necessary.
- Monitors preservation activities and needs. Provides conservation and preservation services, including technical expertise and preservation consultant services to units across NARA.
- Collaborates with other offices across NARA as necessary to coordinate and monitor the preservation needs of original holdings for exhibits at NARA facilities or on loan at outside institutions.
- Provides advice, assistance, and direction on emergency preparedness, response, and recovery for records at NARA facilities, and for NARA records emergency responsibilities to other Federal agencies (e.g., National Response Framework, Heritage Emergency National Task Force). Reviews disaster plans for NARA facilities. Reviews draft NARA issuances for their preservation impact.
- Conducts outreach activities to increase awareness of preservation and access to records, services and programs (i.e., conferences, symposia, workshops, etc.) and collaborates with Museum Programs Division staff in shared support of archival access and outreach, education, and exhibit programs.
- Conservation Branch
- Identifies holdings requiring conservation and/or reformatting, and determines and carries out the appropriate treatment on site, in other NARA facilities or by contract.
- Provides technical advice, consultant services, and training on document conservation, reformatting, technical properties, preventive conservation, digitization and specialized storage requirements to NARA offices, and under special circumstances, to other Federal agencies and non-Federal institutions.
- Establishes and monitors specifications and contracts for procurement of conservation services and products.
- Provides preservation services for original holdings on exhibit and for loan by NARA.
- Provides ongoing care of the Charters of Freedom and ensures the maintenance of the Charters vault and its systems.
- St. Louis Preservation and Conservation Branch
Performs the functions in sub-paragraph 2.a (2)-(4) and 2.b (1)-(4) for St. Louis and other archival facilities outside of the Washington, DC area.
- Moving Image and Sound Preservation Labs
- Provides preservation and reformatting services for audio, video, and moving images for all NARA offices and, under special circumstances, to other Federal agencies.
- Works with the archival units to assess collections for preservation needs, assign risk levels, and provide technical information necessary for completing online access descriptions.
- Advises on planning for future preservation and access projects. Establishes preservation standards for monitoring contracts that procure reproduction, duplication, and/or imaging services.
- Provides technical advice and consultant services on preservation, duplication, reformatting, reproduction, imaging, and specialized storage requirements to other units of NARA, other Federal agencies, and non-Federal institutions.
- Heritage Science Research and Testing Lab
Conducts a preservation science program, including specifications and quality assurance for materials used in the proximity of holdings; basic research into preservation issues, standards development, scientific analysis, and evaluation of preservation approaches.
3. Special Access and FOIA Program
- Responds to FOIA requests for accessioned records that contain classified or other sensitive information. Coordinates responses to FOIA requests and other actions related to access to records subject to legal restrictions.
- Formulates and recommends policy, and provides guidance and advice to Research Services and other NARA units on FOIA and special access issues involving archival records.
4. Digitization Division
Led by the Director of Digitization, aligns digitizing work with NARA’s Digitization Strategy. Guides digitization projects, and coordinates related digitization projects operating throughout Research Services units.
- Coordinates Research Services digitization activities including project planning, pre-digitizing coordination, digital conversion, and post-digitization work.
- As appropriate, provides information about the physical condition of records and format obsolescence to support efforts to identify and prioritize holdings for digitization.
- Provides Research Services an integrated and strategic approach to digital asset and workflow management, electronic space management, migration, data backup, technological obsolescence, and records management responsibilities with support from Information Services.
- Collaborates with Preservation Programs for annual and strategic planning, and for preservation and conservation work that cannot be completed by the Digitization Archival Services Branch.
- Coordinates and oversees Research Services digitization partnerships and represents Research Services’ interests in partnership negotiations.
- Researches standards and recommends policies relating to digitization such as digitization lifecycle processes, and business rules.
- As needed, surveys Research Services offices to learn where digitization procedures are needed.
- Coordinates, leads, and/or represents Research Services on cross-agency committees, consortia, professional organizations, and other external bodies involved with developing and maintaining technical standards for digitization.
- Digitization Imaging Services
- Reformats and images photographs, negatives, textual material, oversized documents, cartographic records, and artifacts in NARA’s holdings for preservation, access, and use in exhibits and publications for all NARA offices and, under special circumstances, for other Federal agencies.
- Executes centralized mass digitization projects involving the systematic digitization of Research Services holdings including textual, special media, and microfilm materials.
- Digitization Archival Services
- Responsible for document preparation, creating technical and descriptive metadata, ensuring digital files are ingested into ERA 2.0, managing submission to the National Archives Catalog, and other archival tasks required to support large scale digitization efforts.
- Maintains the silver and 1st duplicate copies of NARA microfilm and microfiche publications.
5. Deputy Executive for Archival Operations (Records Divisions)
- Oversees all NARA archival operations except Legislative Archives, Presidential Libraries, and Presidential Materials.
- Develops and sustains familiarity with, and advocacy for a variety of customers, staff, and holdings that are part of the whole system. Supports the Executive for Research Services by ensuring the delivery of efficient, effective, world-class services and products, resulting in customer satisfaction. Positions NARA to lead or respond to future trends in customer needs through forward-looking delivery models, cutting-edge technology, creating a digital environment, and developing archival staff of the future.
- Monitors records in NARA's legal custody that are in the physical custody of and administered by other archival repositories at the locations in Appendix C, Affiliated Archives. Inspects such repositories to ensure that the records are properly maintained and made available to the public. Recommends corrective action when appropriate.
- Ensures that archival units successfully perform the following functions and activities:
- Establish and maintain intellectual and physical control of records, including the storage, arrangement, and security of accessioned and donated records and the space housing them.
- Solicit, negotiate, review, and make recommendations on offers to donate documents or other historical materials and determine whether it is in the public interest to accept them for deposit. Recommend appropriate action for approval by the Archivist for those cases in which there are special terms of access or custody outside the normal parameters, or which could be considered high profile.
- Accession into the National Archives of the United States records and other materials that have been determined by the Archivist to have sufficient value to warrant continued preservation.
- Provide access to accessioned records, information from them or surrogates.
- Operate research rooms.
- Manage the Inquire system of general inquiries.
- Participate in the appraisal of records. Initiate and conduct reappraisal activities affecting previously accessioned records.
- Collaborate with Preservation Programs to safeguard, identify, and mitigate risks to records to ensure their preservation.
- Collaborate with Museum Programs Division staff in support of archival access and outreach, education, and exhibit programs.
- Analyze records to confirm provenance, describe filing systems, and identify technical processing problems, legal restrictions on access, and potential research or other value; prepare descriptive guides, lists, inventories, and other finding aids; and perform research in the administrative history of Federal agencies.
- In collaboration with Preservation Programs and the Museum Programs Division, approve and administer the loans of accessioned records to the originating agencies or for exhibits.
- Collaborate with Research Services administrative staff, Field Support Officers, and Business Support Services regarding local facilities’ needs, including personnel, administrative, and procurement/contracting support.
- Field Records Division
Oversees functions in sub-paragraph 5.d at the National Archives at Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Fort Worth, Kansas City, New York City, Philadelphia, Riverside, San Bruno, and Seattle.
- Personnel Records Division
Leads the Archival Operations Branch and the following sections that perform the functions in sub-paragraph 5.d at the National Archives at St. Louis.
- Processing & Digitization Section
- Reference Section
- Public Research Room Section
- Archives I Textual Records Division
The following branches perform the functions in sub-paragraph 5.d for textual records at Washington, DC.
- Processing & Holdings Security Branch
- Reference Branch
- Research Rooms Branch
- Archives II Textual Records Division
The following branches perform the functions in sub-paragraph 5.d for textual records at College Park, MD.
- Accessioning, Basic Processing, & Holdings Security Branch
- Accessioning & Basic Processing Section
- Holdings Security & Space Management Section
- Reference, Research Rooms & Augmented Processing Branch
- Reference & Researcher Registration Section
- Augmented Processing Section
- Archives II Pulls & Monitoring Section
- Accessioning, Basic Processing, & Holdings Security Branch
- Electronic Records Division
The following branches perform the functions in sub-paragraph 5.d for electronic records.
- Accessioning Branch
- Processing Branch
- Technical Services Branch – additionally plans and performs computer processing and related activities necessary for preservation and related support of electronic records processes
- Reference Branch
- Special Media Records Division
The following branches perform the functions in sub-paragraph 5.d for special media records (i.e., motion picture, sound & video records, photographs, maps, charts, aerial photos, architectural drawings, patents, and ship plans) at Archives II.
- Still Picture Branch
- Moving Image and Sound Branch
- Cartographic Branch
DELEGATION OF AUTHORITIES
Authorities Delegated to Research Services by the Archivist
- Accession into the National Archives of the United States records of a Federal agency, the Architect of the Capitol, and the Federal courts, determined by the Archivist to have sufficient historical value to warrant their continued preservation (44 U.S.C. 2107(1)). This authority is re-delegated to the Deputy for Archival Operations and may be further re-delegated to directors of individual custodial units. Limited to records scheduled for deposit with the National Archives of the United States.
- Accept by deed of gift from private sources documents and other materials, including motion pictures, still pictures, and sound and video recordings, that are appropriate for preservation by the U.S. Government (44 U.S.C. 2107(4) and 2111(2)) (excluding legislative and Presidential records and materials). This authority is re-delegated to the Deputy for Archival Operations and may be further delegated to directors of individual custodial units, in consultation with Agency Services and with approval by the Archivist in cases of special terms of access or custody, or high-profile cases.
7. Servicing Records
- Transfer records deposited or approved for deposit with the National Archives of the United States to public or educational institutions or associations (44 U.S.C. 2107(a)(3)). This authority is retained by the Executive for Research Services. Title to the records to remain vested in the United States unless otherwise authorized by Congress.
- Authorize the withdrawal of records transferred to NARA (44 U.S.C. 2108). This authority is re-delegated to the Deputy for Archival Operations and may be further delegated to directors of individual custodial units, and is limited to loans of records to the Federal entity of origin.
- Impose restrictions on the use of records, papers, documents, or other historical materials transferred to NARA (44 U.S.C. 2108(a); 2111). This authority is re-delegated to the Deputy for Archival Operations and may be further delegated to directors of individual custodial units.
- Preserve, arrange, describe, and service accessioned records or other documentary materials; and prepare and publish inventories, indexes, catalogs, and other finding aids (44 U.S.C. 2109; 2110). Preservation functions are re-delegated to Preservation Programs; the arrangement, description, servicing of records and preparation of finding aids is re-delegated to the Deputy for Archival Operations and may be further delegated to directors of individual custodial units, who must coordinate description of records and preparation of finding aids with Digital Public Access Branch, Office of Innovation.
- Receive duplicate originals or authenticated copies of agreements or compacts entered into under the Constitution and laws of the United States, between States of the Union, and take necessary actions for their preservation and servicing. (44 U.S.C. 2113). This authority is re-delegated to the Deputy for Archival Operations and may be further delegated to directors of individual custodial units.
- Make and preserve audio and visual records, including motion picture films, still photographs, and sound recordings, in analog, digital, or any other form, pertaining to and illustrative of the historical development of the U.S. Government and its activities, and release for nonprofit educational purposes motion picture films, still photographs, and sound recordings (44 U.S.C. 2114). This authority is re-delegated to the Deputy for Archival Operations in coordination with Communications and Marketing (SC), and with the Museum Programs Division, Legislative Archives, Presidential Libraries, and Museum Services.
8. General Administration
- Accept and use voluntary and uncompensated personal services for NARA (44 U.S.C. 2105(d)). This authority is re-delegated to unit heads.
- Solicit and accept gifts or bequests of money, securities, or other personal property, for the benefit of, or in connection with, the national archival and records activities administered by NARA (44 U.S.C. 2305). This authority is re-delegated to the Director of Preservation Programs, the Deputy for Archival Operations, and the Director of the Digitization Division, and may be further delegated to directors of individual custodial units. This delegation of authority is subject to the requirements of NARA 404, National Archives Gift Fund, and may not be re-delegated.
- Accept orders from other departments, establishments, bureaus, or offices for materials, supplies, equipment, work, or service (31 U.S.C. 1535). This authority is retained by the Executive for Research Services, and may not be re-delegated.
- Reproduce, authenticate, and certify records or other documentary materials; certify to facts and make administrative determinations on the basis of records transferred from other agencies when authority has been delegated by the transferring agency (44 U.S.C. 2109, 2116(b), 3104). This authority is re-delegated to the Deputy for Archival Operations and may be further delegated to directors of individual custodial units.
- Charge and collect fees for making or authenticating copies or reproductions of materials transferred to NARA and deposit such fees in the National Archives Trust Fund (44 U.S.C. 2116(c)). This authority is re-delegated to the Deputy for Archival Operations and may be further delegated to directors of individual custodial units.