The Society of American Archivists has joined with the Council of State Archivists, the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, and the Regional Archival Associations Consortium to submit “Recommendations on Federal Archives and Records Management Issues” to the Trump presidential transition team.

The document can be read in its entirety at http://files.archivists.org/advocacy/Archives-and-Records-Management-Issues_2016%20Presidential-Transition-Team.pdf.  Seven recommendations related to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) make up the crux of the document:

  • Executive agencies and officials at all levels, including the President, Vice President, and Cabinet secretaries, must adhere to both the letter and the spirit of all archives and records management laws, regulations, and policies.
  • Electronic records management must be viewed as a core federal program requirement and enforced for all agencies and for all federal officials.
  • All agencies and federal officials must be required to use official government email accounts for the conduct of public business.  NARA should have the resources and ability to verify compliance.
  • NARA should continue to assert lawful control over all Presidential, Vice Presidential, and permanently valuable Executive Branch records.
  • NARA should be given increased statutory authority to enable the agency to meet its responsibility for proper management of federal records.
  • NHPRC supports archives and records innovation at the state and local levels that has a major impact on federal records.  Given the importance of NHPRC grants and the remarkable return on investment that this agency has realized, we strongly endorse increased funding of NHPRC to support both national competitive grants and pass-through grants to states.
  • NARA’s National Declassification Center should be appropriately staffed to work with executive agencies to develop and improve declassification policies and procedures based on a risk management approach to ensure timely access to records.

In addition, there are two areas of concern these archival organizations wish to point out to the President-elect:

  • Public access to federal records should be based on a presumption of openness, with emphasis on consistent application of the Freedom of Information Act by government agencies.
  • Protections for intellectual property rights, as codified in the U.S. Copyright Act and any proposed trade agreement, must safeguard the role of archives and libraries in providing access to archival materials to enable ongoing research, scientific progress, and economic growth.

This is not an unprecedented step for the archival world to reach out to the presidential transition team.  In 2008, the leaders of 11 organizations wrote a letter to the Obama transition team and included “A New Archivist of the United States: Qualities of a Successful Candidate.”

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