Doing More With Less

On Monday, President Barack Obama requested $422,501,000 for the National Archives and Records Administration for Fiscal Year 2012. This is an 8.2 percent decrease from the President’s budget request of $460,287,000 for Fiscal Year 2011.

The reality is we’ve got to do more with less.

This fiscal situation is not likely an aberration, but a challenge we will face as an agency for the next five years. We are, however, well positioned to meet this challenge.

The greatest budget savings will come from the earlier decision to move the Electronic Records Archives directly into an operations and maintenance mode. We will also leverage our transformation efforts to make the most of a difficult situation.

Our transformation plan — Charting the Course — will be our roadmap. The planned reorganization will create a new structure that will enable us to find more efficient ways of doing our work. We will foster a new culture that innovates and thrives on change. We will find new ways of exploiting technology to drive down cost and help other federal agencies do the same.

Innovation will be central to our work. This budget climate presents us with an opportunity to find efficiencies in our work that we would never have thought of under different circumstances.

We will continue to rely on the experience of the National Archives staff to identify inefficiencies and suggest cost saving measures. This summer we saw creative and innovative ideas from staff who participated in an agency-wide budget brainstorming session. The passion of our employees was reflected in the number of ideas, comments, and votes. Moving forward, we will continue to leverage our front line experience as we rethink and fine tune our work to better serve the American people.

These times are an opportunity to strengthen our vision for a National Archives of the future. We will do more with less, while ensuring that we uphold our fundamental role in safeguarding, preserving, and providing access to the records of our government.

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8 Responses to Doing More With Less

  1. Chris Graesser says:

    How can you have an archive without a library?

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  2. Mark Arguello says:

    How can we find more and better ways to operate when staff ideas are not asked or considered! We have done more with less for years, when will the voices be heard?

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  3. I am the NARA Director of Access Programs in the Washington area.The library program is one of those programs. The Archivist will be releasing more information about the library cuts soon but I would like to respond to Chris’ comment personally.

    I won’t say we are happy about the budget cuts but we have chosen to look at this situation as both a challenge and an opportunity. We are integrating the library services in the National Archives Building into our Research Services Program. The library will be staffed and the same resources will be available. It is our plan that users of the library will see no change in services. If you see a change- please please let us know!

    Even before we knew about the budget cuts we had already been studying how we serve researchers in the National Archives Building and a closer integration with the library was one of the recommendations. We can make this work.

    And thank you to the library and research community for speaking out on behalf of our great library staff and the work they do!

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  4. Rebecca Warlow says:

    I must say, respectfully, that I have had a different experience from Mark Arguello. I have worked at NARA for 14 years, both in the Regions and at College Park. I believe that in the last nine months we have been asked to share our opinions and ideas with each other and with senior management more than at any other time in my NARA career. We’ve been able to participate in and be informed about the entire transformation process through the transformation blog, town hall meetings, email communications, IdeaScale forums, fliers and posters, and staff meetings. I believe our voices have been heard. For instance, several staff on our first Budget Brainstorming Idea Scale last summer suggested some of the changes that were annouced recently and changes were made to the new NARA values statement and organization plan based on staff feedback. I also agree with Susan’s comments above, we are facing a time of challenge and opportunity and we can make this work.

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  5. John Powers says:

    I am very sad to lose the Library. I have benefitted greatly from the information resources that the talented staff helped me identify and use. With their help, my work products are/were better. Given the Archivist’s professional background, this decision must be personally gut-wrenching. Still, I am hopeful that the talents of the information professionals staffing our Library remain with NARA. And i am hoping that our collections will remain with NARA and remain accessable to staff.

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  6. John Powers says:

    Will “transformation” be more than a simple reorganization? The hard work and verdict on this is still to come and is just beginning. The Archivist is correct – we must plan for declining budgets in the coming years. this will mean that NARA must wholly change the way it operates if it wants to be more than a museum. We need to re-think and change the current life cycle model for records management. We need to re-think and change our current Presidential Library system model; we need to re-think and change our current Records Centers model; we need to re-think and change the types of staff we hire and the work they will do (IT focused). The current systems are not sustainable; nor will they be relevant if they remain static. Should NARA be seeking to be the “Google of Government” and all that that entails, including entirely new areas for staff expertise and technical abilities. Now that our units have been reorganized to support our new goals, we must re-focus on the critical steps and truly hard choices that lie ahead.

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  7. Thanks so much for publishing the National Archives’ Transformation Plan, Charting the Course online. I also appreciate the link to the President’s budget. The efforts of this office to be transparent and to solicit the views and experiences of its front-line workers is inspiring.

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  8. William Biter says:

    Doing More With Less: We have learned that Pittsfield facility will be closing. Are more jobs going to be eliminated do to budget cuts?

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