The Role of the National Archives in the Presidential Transition

With this week’s election, we Americans determined the next chapter in our country’s history. I am proud to have exercised my vote and I hope you did the same. As private citizens we participated in an act of living democracy. Today, we do the same as Federal employees dedicated to preparing our agency for a smooth Presidential transition.

At the advent of each new administration, the National Archives prepares briefing materials that explain who we are as an agency and what we do and why it matters. We share these with the President-elect’s Transition Team.  All Executive Branch agencies are required to do this, but the National Archives has special transition responsibilities.

Constitution of the United States, Page 1
The Constitution of the United States

We are planning for and have already begun the physical transfer of hundreds of millions of textual, electronic, and audiovisual records and additional materials to a temporary facility in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, that will store the records of the eventual Barack Obama Presidential Library.  We are also planning for the transfer of legal custody of those records on January 20, 2017, the care of those records, and the development of the Library itself.

The National Archives is engaged with Federal agencies and oversight and advisory groups to ensure that both incoming and outgoing political appointees are properly trained and properly preserving their records. We provide training materials that offer guidance to the latest amendment to the Federal Records Act. The National Archives is a permanent member of the Agency Transition Directors Council, as well, from which we advise best practices to ensure that all Federal records are protected during administration changes.

The peaceful transition of power and knowledge from one Presidential Administration to another is both a cornerstone and a cyclical event of American democracy. Yet even as we progress through that transition, our mission, our vision, our values remain unchanged. We will continue to do our best work on behalf of the American public and the records that future historians will turn to in understanding our era’s events.

2 thoughts on “The Role of the National Archives in the Presidential Transition

  1. NARA’s role is especially important during the transition, especially now. Thanks for reminding us.

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