NARA's top 10 management challenges

The Office of Inspector General recently listed what it considers the most significant challenges facing the agency

In its most recent semiannual report to Congress covering October 2008 to March 2009, the National Archives and Records Administration’s Office of Inspector General listed what it considers the 10 most significant challenges that the agency faces.

  1. Electronic Records Archives. The OIG said the program “has experienced delivery delays, budgeting problems and contractor staffing problems" and concluded that "the success of this mission-critical program is uncertain.”
  2. Records management. NARA must determine how best to identify and react to agencies with critical records management needs, particularly given the increasing amount of electronic records, the report states.
  3. Information technology security. IT security “continues to present major challenges for NARA.… NARA must ensure the security of its data and systems or risk undermining the agency’s credibility and ability to carry out its mission,” the report states.
  4. Public access to records. The OIG said NARA has a critical role to play in ensuring the timeliness and integrity of the process for declassifying classified material so that it can be made available to the public.
  5. Storage needs. NARA must ensure that its facilities and those of other agencies comply with NARA's regulations for records storage.
  6. Preservation needs. “The current backlog of records needing preservation is growing," the report states. "NARA is challenged to address this backlog and future preservation needs."
  7. Project management. NARA must improve its ability to plan projects, develop adequately defined requirements, analyze and test systems to support their acquisition and deployment, and oversee projects to ensure that they deliver desired results within budget, the report states.
  8. Physical and holdings security. “NARA must maintain adequate levels of security to ensure the safety and integrity of persons and holdings within our facilities,” the OIG said, citing threats to the nation in general and risks to NARA's collections from natural and man-made disasters.
  9. Contract management and administration. “NARA is challenged to continue strengthening the acquisition workforce and improve the management and oversight of federal contractors,” the report states.
  10. Workforce issues. “NARA’s challenge is to adequately assess its human capital needs in order to effectively recruit, retain and train people with the technological understanding and content knowledge that NARA needs for future success,” the OIG said, noting that the agency scored poorly on a recent job satisfaction survey.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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