SAA Urges Respect and Consideration for Proper Records Management in Government

February 1, 2023—The Society of American Archivists (SAA) promotes the protection of government records. Further, SAA supports archivists and records managers at all levels of government, including staff at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the White House Office of Records Management, in their efforts to manage records responsibly and transparently. Our public servants who strive to manage and preserve government information are a cornerstone of our democracy, giving stewardship to records that document the rights and responsibilities of governments and individuals, providing accountability for governments and organizations, and serving as accessible sources of historical information.

Under-resourced records management and mishandling of sensitive information are bipartisan problems. SAA stands by the principles of proper records management and the government workers who help ensure proper management and minimize the mishandling or spillage of classified information. 

The bipartisan current events involving the mishandling of classified documents also highlight the inadequacies of the federal classification and declassification system. The rules were developed at a time where the volume of federal records was a fraction of what it is today. They are not equipped to classify, safeguard, and declassify the estimated billions of classified documents and petabytes of classified data the government now produces. NARA and other agencies involved in these mandates should be empowered and resourced to build a classification and declassification process that meets the need of a twenty-first century polity, especially in light of the mandate to manage records electronically. OMB-NARA memo M-23-07 Update to Transition to Electronic Records.

An older version of this piece cited OMB-NARA memo 19-21 Transition to Electronic Records.