Full Committee Hearing Set for AOTUS Nominee

The Full Committee Hearing for the nomination of Dr. Colleen J. Shogan as the next Archivist of the United States will take place tomorrow, September 21, at 10:00 a.m. ET. Watch the hearing live here.

The Society of American Archivists has provided a list of questions to the Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee to be considered for the hearing. The questions are as follows:

  1. How would you ensure that NARA remains independent and true to its mission when faced with political pressure? How would you shepherd NARA through potential partisan or political interference in its core functions, including access to public records and ownership and control of presidential records? How would you engage with public officials and heads of federal agencies to ensure that they—and the staff they lead—understand and comply with federal records laws?
  2. Federal records and archives are the essential information foundation documenting the functions of the U.S. government and ensuring its accountability and transparency to the American people. Despite this, many federal agencies do not comply or only marginally comply with federal laws and regulations regarding the management and preservation of this essential evidence. How will you as the AOTUS convince federal agencies that it is imperative they understand and comply with federal records laws? What specific actions would you initiate with the NARA staff to make real change take place in managing the records of federal government?
  3. For over a decade, NARA’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results have demonstrated a concerning dichotomy: on the one hand, NARA’s employees overwhelming support and believe in the mission of the organization. On the other hand, the same survey results show that NARA’s employees lack confidence in the agency’s senior leadership. How would you as AOTUS address this crisis of confidence in NARA’s leadership?
  4. Over the last ten years, NARA has moved toward consolidating physical holdings in centralized locations. What is your view of NARA’s nationwide network of regional archives and records centers? What issues do you see in relocating records away from the regions where they were created to a more centralized location, whether that be in the DC area or elsewhere?
  5. U.S. law addresses the requirement for effective management of records by federal agencies, and in some measure by the President. However, no comparable laws exist for Congress or the Judicial branches of government. Do you as the AOTUS nominee consider this to be a concern for the archival documentation of the United States government? If no, why not, and if yes, what specific actions can you and the National Archives take to change this?
  6. NARA has a monumental task in overseeing and facilitating the effective management of the records of federal government and ensuring the archival record of this democracy are appropriately managed, preserved, and made available. However, it is chronically underfunded and has struggled to accomplish its mandated responsibilities. What strategies would you lead to change this situation? What specific steps would you take to substantially change the lack of resources and support for the National Archives?
  7. As the largest archives operation in the Unites States, NARA is well-placed to be a leader in the stewardship of records and cultural heritage across the country—in institutions large and small, governmental and non-governmental. As we approach the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we have an opportunity to celebrate the history our country with the documents and records that tell our county’s story. Beyond America250, what role does the Archivist of the United States and NARA have in raising awareness with policy makers, the media, and the public of the value and importance of the records of federal government/presidency and the American experience, as well as the value and importance of records and archives in communities across the country, in general?
  8. What is NARA’s role in creating an effective digital government for the American people? What role should NARA play in these groups?
  9. Describe your previous experience working with NARA and its staff. What did you find interesting or noteworthy in these experiences? Can you explain how your experience demonstrates the necessary competencies to lead the National Archives and address the complex challenges facing the agency?

In August, the Society of American Archivists welcomed the nomination of  Dr. Colleen J. Shogan as the next Archivist of the United States at the National Archives and Records Administration. SAA’s membership looks to a leader who will defend the mission of the agency, which “drives openness, cultivates public participation, and strengthens our nation’s democracy through public access to high-value government records.”

In February, SAA endorsed a set of characteristics, prepared by the Council of State Archivists (CoSA), for the next Archivist of the United States.

We look forward to partnering with Dr. Shogan to continue supporting archives and archival work across the country.