Dramatic change to NARA’s mission in new strategic plan?

The National Archives and Records Administration has issued a draft of its Strategic Plan for FY 2014-2019 for public comment (comments due June 28, which is not a lot of time).

I’m just reading through it now for the first time and am struck by the change in the description of NARA’s mission from the existing plan to this one:

From the 2009 Strategic Plan:

The National Archives and Records Administration serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government, ensuring that the people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage.We ensure continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. We support democracy, promote civic education, and facilitate historical understanding of our national experience

From the current draft:

NARA drives openness, cultivates public participation, and strengthens our nation’s democracy through public access to high-value government records

That’s quite a shift in emphasis, wouldn’t you say? Nothing there about preservation, although perhaps the authors think that’s implied. And “high-value” records? I suppose that’s thought to be an improvement over lengthier descriptions of the qualities of records makes them worthy of preservation, but that seems like a very clumsy way to describe it.

This certainly reflects a shift to try to make the archives appear more action-oriented, rather than a passive custodian, but I think something may have been lost along the way. What about you, any thoughts on the “as-is” and proposed “to-be”?



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