David S. Ferriero
10th Archivist of the United States
Be Bold. Build Our Future Through Our People
Our fourth strategic goal, our most important goal, focuses on the real treasures of the National Archives–our staff.
This goal highlights our commitment to provide our staff with the training, tools and opportunities necessary for the transition into a digital environment. We intend to support staff through creating a culture of empowerment, openness and inclusion through both our processes and new technology. And we want to ensure that we have a diverse workforce, equipped with the skills necessary to fulfill our mission.
In this goal we recognize that public access to government information creates measurable economic value, which adds to the enduring cultural, historical, and evidentiary value of our records.
We have two objectives under this goal:
to reform and modernize records management policies and practices within the Federal government and to effectively support the transition to a digital government. We are establishing requirements for electronic records management for federal agencies and we will stimulate investigation of applied research into automated technologies.
to promote the use and reuse of our records in both the public and private sectors. And as I have said before, this builds on the foundation of making access happen and connecting with our customers.
The second of our new strategic goals is to “Connect with Customers.”
At the National Archives, we connect with customers in a multitude of ways: nationwide, face-to-face, over the phone, across the desk, in our research rooms, in the classroom and of course, online.
Our initiatives under this goal include integrating our customer service activities to more pro-actively respond to and effectively understand our customer needs. Additionally, we want to expand our use of public participation and crowdsourcing tools to improve access and engagement. We intend to draw on the expertise and energy of our researchers and the public around the world who are willing to work with us on all kinds of projects, from tagging images to transcribing our handwritten records to writing articles based on the treasures we hold in the national archives.
The first of our new strategic goals is to “Make Access Happen.” Increasingly, access means digital, online access. Our first goal has one objective, to make our records available to the public in digital form to ensure that anyone can explore, discover and learn from our records.
During my years at MIT and Duke, Commencement was always a special day for me. It put into perspective all of the work during the previous year to ensure that students and faculty had the information resources and support they needed in their coursework and research—a morning to celebrate the launch of another class of educated men and women.
So, I am taking this assignment seriously. I will certainly be taking FDR’s advice to heart—“Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”
But I need your help. What advice would you give this graduating class? What special message would you deliver to undergraduates? Graduate students? Parents and other family members? Faculty and staff of the university? Send me your ideas!
Over the past eighteen months, the staff and I at the National Archives have been working diligently to develop our next Strategic Plan. Many meetings, long conversations, Town Halls, thoughtful emails, and loads of feedback from staff and stakeholders have gone into the refinement of the strategy that will be the roadmap for our Agency through 2018. Along the way, I have encouraged staff to stretch their vision and to be bold.
Our Plan has four goals:
Make Access Happen:Increasingly this means digital, online access.
Connect with Customers:Wherever they are, however they want it.
Maximize NARA’s Value to the Nation:Through the use and reuse of our digital content.
Build Our Future through Our People:The most important goal of all.
When I was a kid growing up in Beverly, MA, every morning I would walk by the site of the cotton mill visited by George Washington. That mill, the Beverly Cotton Manufactory, even predated Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, which was patented 220 years ago today!
We are excited that this is the first time a National Archives project is featured! For our project, “Crowdsourcing Tools to Unlock Government Records,” innovators will lead the open development of crowdsourcing tools for the public to easily contribute to government records at the National Archives and improve the effectiveness of crowdsourcing across the government.
Do you want to make a difference in government? Apply today!
Stills similar to the one represented in this drawing were used to make distilled liquors and were commonly used in America during the early 19th-century. And their “descendants” are still being found in the mountains of rural America!
Image: Eli Barnum & Benj. Brooks Still Design Patent, 1808. National Archives Identifier 305887
This 1918 valentine refers to the World War I effort to economize on food for the war effort—called “Hooverizing” in honor of the U.S. Food Administrator, Herbert Hoover. From the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library