n.an independent federal agency possessing primary responsibility for managing the records of all three branches of the United States federal government, for providing guidance to federal agencies on records management policies and practices, for authorizing the disposition of federal records, for storing federal records, and for preserving records of permanent historical value to the United States in both federal archives and presidential librariesNARA 2019, http://www.archives.gov/about_us/vision_mission_values.htmlOur Vision. The National Archives is not a dusty hoard of ancient history. It is a public trust on which our democracy depends. It enables people to inspect for themselves the record of what government has done. It enables officials and agencies to review their actions and helps citizens hold them accountable. It ensures continuing access to essential evidence that documents: the rights of American citizens; the actions of federal officials; the national experience. ¶ To be effective, we at NARA must do the following: determine what evidence is essential for such documentation; ensure that government creates such evidence; make it easy for users to access that evidence regardless of where it is, where they are, for as long as needed; find technologies, techniques, and partners worldwide that can help improve service and hold down cost; help staff members continuously expand their capability to make the changes necessary to realize the vision.
Established in 1934 as the National Archives, the agency was renamed the National Archives and Records Service (NARS) when it was made part of the General Services Administration (1949-1984). The new name reflected expanded responsibility for current records as well as archives, which was clarified by the Federal Records Act of 1950. The National Archives again attained independence as an agency in October 1984 (effective April 1, 1985), when it became known as the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).