“Transformation” of the National Archives Underway

This past summer Archivist of the United States David Ferriero created a staff task force to draft a plan for the “transformation” of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). In September, a draft report was circulated to all NARA staff seeking their input. In October, the final report, “A Charter for Change,” was released. The plan outlines a new organizational model for the National Archives.

A Transformation Launch Team, led by Tom Mills (Assistant Archivist for Regional Records Services), has already begun implementing the reorganization. During November and December, the Transformation Launch Team will be working with staff to identify the core ideology and values of the agency, identify and implement specific action items that can be put in place immediately, and draft the remaining organization structure of the agency.

Since taking office a year ago, Mr. Ferriero has emphasized that his goal for the transformation of the National Archives is much more than merely reorganization. Ferriero has stated that if all reorganization does is to redraw the organizational chart without making a profound change in NARA’s underlying culture, improvements will only be incremental, not transformational.

The Archivist and his management team have major challenges facing them in this regard. In August, the Partnership for Public Service released its “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” rankings. The National Archives and Records Administration tied for the lowest ranking (31st) with the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the category of large federal agencies. NARA had finished second to last in the 2009 survey. While NARA slipped one slot, its overall score improved from 56 in 2009 to 57.1 this year. To see an analysis of NARA’s ranking click here.