As an independent agency tasked with providing the public open access to the nation’s documents, the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) role is central to the pursuit of a more transparent and inclusive government for all Americans. To that end, while a step in the right direction, NARA’s new strategic plan falls short of meeting this goal.
NARA’s records appraisal policies in particular do not live up to their stated goal of strengthening engagement with underserved communities, by excluding the perspectives of people detained in immigration detention facilities, or records reflecting serious abuse and mistreatment of non-citizens by federal officials. CREW has submitted a comment to NARA encouraging a revision of these policies and a commitment to reform that includes and accounts for the interests and viewpoints of “underserved communities.”
If NARA is serious about its stated goal of “increas[ing] access to records that are important to underserved communities,” its records appraisal policies must be revised to truly reflect the commitments to inclusivity and transparency set forth in the strategic plan.