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Response from the Council of State Archivists Regarding NARA Draft Strategic Plan 2018-2022 #12
Thank you for giving the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) an opportunity to respond to the Draft Strategic Plan for 2018-2022.
CoSA believes that the draft plan does not do justice to NARA’s status as a leader in the archival, records management, and information profession. As a result, the strategic goals and objectives are too narrowly drawn, focusing more on internal activities with metrics that don’t convey progressive growth or external impact except by implication. Our state archives community sees NARA’s civic involvement through its exhibitions and programming, funding of important documentation projects through the NHPRC, educating and engaging with state and local governments, cooperating on intergovernmental records and appraisal, and advocacy for the American archival community as critically important elements of NARA’s vision and mission.
We ask you to consider greater balance between internally-focused goals and objectives (which are records management heavy), and externally-focused leadership and programming by including language that speaks to the impact of education and access, the leveraging of the power of collaboration -- particularly with state and local governments -- and the NHPRC. The NHPRC’s role in fostering a culture of leadership and collaboration across the archival and information communities is not discussed. It can be hard to quantify these relationships, but NARA can cite a wealth of examples, such as Founders Online, and deliverables from NHPRC grants.
Some of the expressed strategic objectives are lofty, yet others might better serve the nation if they are refocused, and still others appear to be missing. For example, digitizing 500 million pages may be a wise investment of NARA’s resources, but a more meaningful metric might be measuring the digitized content's usage to show value, rather than the number of images available. A metric showing improvement for diversity and inclusion, while difficult to achieve, might further efforts across the broader archives community in working toward this key goal.
CoSA and its state and territorial archival members look forward to increased collaboration with NARA on common issues to ensure that the public has access to government information. As a long-time partner in promoting professional standards and training, CoSA stands ready to support NARA’s plan and to work together to care for our nation’s government records.
Submitted on behalf of the CoSA Board of Directors, Advocacy Committee, and NHPRC Task Force
Anne W. Ackerson