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Archive Testifies to House Oversight Committee About Challenges Facing National Archives

Recommends New Archivist Have a Vision for Archives 2.0

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Meredith Fuchs / Kristin Adair

Washington, DC, May 21, 2009 – At a hearing today focusing on the National Archives and Records Administration and the selection of a new Archivist, National Security Archive General Counsel Meredith Fuchs said: “[The new Archivist] should have a vision for an Archives 2.0.”

Discussing electronic records management, classification, presidential records and libraries, and access as critical challenges, before the Information Policy, Census, and National Archives Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Ms. Fuchs called for the appointment of an Archivist who is “an unwavering advocate of transparency and access,” and “embrace[s] the fact that NARA is not a museum of the past, but a resource that should serve the needs of today and tomorrow.” She explained, “NARA can only fulfill its mission if it starts its work long before the boxes of old documents are trucked over to its warehouses.”

In her written remarks, Ms. Fuchs described NARA as a critical component of our democracy:

NARA’s formal mission statement highlights its roles supporting democracy, promoting civic education, and facilitating historical understanding of our national experience . . .  The founders of this country set up checks and balances and structures to ensure an informed citizenry because abuses thrive when there is no one watching the institutions that hold power.  Congress created NARA because a functional, effective national archive is a critical component in restraining the arbitrary and unreasonable exercise of government power that is anathema to democracy.

Other witnesses included Patrice McDermott, director of OpenTheGovernment.org, and Lee White, executive director of the National Coalition for History.


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