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Subject: Re: Fwd: [SAA recordsmgmt]: Keep calm, do your reseach Fwd: [RM] Crisis at the National Archives
From: Hugh Sharpe <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Records Management Program <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 12 Jun 2018 09:16:20 -0400

text/plain (164 lines)

Not sure I understand the following from Maarja's piece; "..Neither he nor  
seem aware that there will not be an Obama Presidential Library.." Are you  
saying that plans for the library have been scrapped?  If so, that's not  
what I'm reading in the press; yes, there are quite a few hurdles to go  
over, including Chicago City Council passage and probable law suits after  
that, but the sponsors and proponents of the library seem to be forging  
ahead with their plans to build one. 
Michael Sharpe 
Records Retention Manager / Legal & Compliance Department 
Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency 
1200 N. Seventh Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102 
Direct: 717-720-2820 
[log in to unmask] 
From:   Maarja Krusten 2 <[log in to unmask]> 
To:     [log in to unmask] 
Date:   06/11/2018 03:06 PM 
Subject:        [external]Fwd: [SAA recordsmgmt]: Keep calm, do your  
reseach Fwd: [RM] Crisis at the National Archives 
Sent by:        Records Management Program <[log in to unmask]> 
 -----Original Message----- 
From: Maarja Krusten 2 <[log in to unmask]> 
To: archivists-recordsmgmt <[log in to unmask]> 
Sent: Mon, Jun 11, 2018 8:13 am 
Subject: Keep calm, do your reseach Fwd: [RM] Crisis at the National 
From another records listserv, sharing a forward of an excerpt from an 
opinion piece a subscriber there posted recently. The seemingly well 
intended although one-sided ("bad guys" all one political party) opinion 
piece has the dramatic title,"Crisis at the National Archives."  The 
opinion piece by publisher and reporter Thomas LIpscomb illustrates why 
assessing Federal RM may be challenging for people who've researched 
records but not worked as civil servants in affected professions 
(archivist, records manager, government historian). 
 Lipscomb's essay draws on Congressional hearings to try to assess Federal 
Records Act issues during the last administration (January 2009-January 
2017).  Lipscomb looks at FRA losses during the last administration and 
asks how the records issues will "affect plans for the new Obama 
presidential library. But will there be penalties for violating the 2014 
This type of conflation of the Federal Records Act (in which the National 
Archives has a role throughout the records life cycle) and the  
Records Act, in which RM responsibility statutorily resides solely with  
president and his designees on White House staff, is not uncommon in 
opinion writing. My advice to you as professionals is always start with 
what the laws and regulations in place required when assessing advocacy 
commentary.  A solid way to go whether partisan or non-partisan.  Some of 
what Lipscomb describes occurred prior to the the signing into law on 
November 26, 2014 of H.R. 1233. 
A few months ago I waved readers off of circulating a more tendentious 
piece than Libscomb's. That one was written by a self described watchdog 
and partisan who was a retired real estate agent.  Neither he nor Lipscomb 
seem aware that there will not be an Obama Presidential Library, that NARA 
will administer his Presidential Records Act materials in its regular 
facilities.  Or how RM works. Lipscomb's conclusion implies a presidential 
library would be the repository for accessioned materials under Federal 
Records Act. Not so and as such, a dramatic bridge too far. 
I don't recommend Congressional hearings as a sole source for trying to 
assess records management issues if you're not familiar with their  
and Minority dynamics, or able to separate the performative acts from the 
good "aha" moments that can make up what I generally call "Washington 
theater."  Parsing them may be challenging even for reporters, although 
some do better than others.  There also is the barrier of what I call 
"records management theater." I alluded to that in my 2015 "Truth Bomb" 
blog post, which unlike outsider efforts, focused on the Records Manager. 
Moving beyond conference presentation theater is one reason I have tried 
from time to time to encourage greater depth in RM discussions about how 
practitioners do their work. Compliance starts with the RM, who often is 
best suited to  understand internal environmental and cultural issues in a 
workplace and to craft sophisticated RM strategies for selling good  
practices up and down the ranks. Given challenges and acculturation, I do 
understand why that rarely is the focus in online professional forums. 
Still, these are good opportunities for me to advocate again for 
information literacy and encouraging  sharing of your professional 
experiences. One of my personal rules of thumb is, the greate the  
and the more drama in the framing, the less familiar the writer is with 
Fedland RM, FRA or PRA.  (There can be other reasons for hyperbole, too,  
course.) In writing for info pros, better to stay calm and focus on what 
happened, why it happened, what was required (don't cherry pick laws,  
guidance, read requirements and ask questions if something is unclear). 
And if you're super results oriented, consider what was the macro and  
RM culture that affected the outcome, and what are the most effective 
possible solutions. 
You'll rarely see that in even the best meaning opinion pieces.  This one 
didn't go all the way up to Def Con Fainting Couch, it shows some effort  
getting it right but misses the mark elsewhere so I'd put it at Def Con 
Eeek!? on my personal scale of advocacy writing. 
Keep calm and carry on, fellow information pros, and for readers working  
the public or private sector on insight-based solutions to RM issues, my 
[log in to unmask] 
Washington, DC 
Blog:  Archival Explorations 
Subject: [RM] Crisis at the National Archives 
To: [log in to unmask] 
recent congressional testimony has made it clear that the Obama 
administration itself engaged in the wholesale destruction and “loss” of 
tens of thousands of government records covered under the act as well as 
the intentional evasion of the government records recording system by 
engaging in private email exchanges. So far, former President Obama,  
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Lynch and 
several EPA officials have been named as offenders. The IRS suffered  
“losses” as well. Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy called it “an 
unauthorized private communications system for official business for the 
patent purpose of defeating federal record-keeping and disclosure laws.” 
List archives at 
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