Scope of my query (truncated excerpt below):  Although I'm most familiar
with the OPM 170 Historian job series, having transferred into that
position in government service in 1990, please consider in your replies any
"knowledge accountable officer" type person in your workplace.  My blog
post describes a range of researchers and their need (not that of
archivists or RMs) to parse records and consider the role of archival
silences in writing history.

I know not every workplace has a designated historian. Whoever answers the
phone when the top official calls and asks for a history briefing in bullet
points or a narrative faces the same challenge as a historian--identifying
reliable information. Or when an executive simply asks what happened and
why so he can have context for current issues.

The historian (or knowledge accountable officer) considers the content of
records, and prepares an oral or written brief that the executive can
*reliably* use in testimony; to support other external facing products,
internal policy and decision making, or as information that illuminates
internal cultural issues.  Historians also speak for the employing entity
in publishing articles, books, etc.

There are any number of reasons why the person writing the brief or article
or history book would discard or not use information in certain records as
unreliable (although an authentic record in format) but turn instead to
more reliable information in other records.

The focus on fact-based analysis is why at the highest ranks (not including
managerial) in the OPM 170 series (
15-17) the historian's work is considered authoritative. You'll see
examples using Department of Defense components, the Department of State,
and other government entities.

For context, OPM also describes at the link how the position differs from
that of related jobs, such as archivist and museum curator.  I'm lucky I've
had a chance to work both as an archivist, early in my career, and later
for a longer time as an GS-170 Federal historian.

I'm grateful for others in the public or private sector who also handle
knowledge accountable officer assignments, whether they carry the official
170 designation or not.  The challenges and responsibilities come in the
work, not the designation.  My thanks to those of you who through your RM
work, support such work and through us and directly, that of your
employers' executive team members.


--------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Maarja Krusten 2 <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Fri, Jul 28, 2017 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Authenticated records; accuracy of content; use
To: [log in to unmask]

While we rightfully focus on the key issue of authenticating records,
assessing the accuracy of their content is more challenging, to the extent
it can be done.  How people use records now and in the future depends on
the purpose of inquiry.

Some of those purposes in turn affect records creation and choices at the
beginning of the records life cycle.  I look at that in my latest blog
post: or
short link:
This includes a look at the information and knowledge needs of some senior
and C-Suite officials but also program managers and unit supervisors.
​ <snip>​

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