n. (abbr. NARA)an independent federal agency responsible for managing, preserving, and providing access to the records of the United States federal governmentMayer 1985, 392The Records Appraisal Division at the National Archives and Records Administration became aware of some of the problems in the late 1960s when it became painfully obvious that agencies using computers had not been paying sufficient attention to such essentials as proper storage environments, software documentation, and the compatibility of software from one generation of computers to another.Galvin 1990, 448Security is a major problem for institutions that collect and preserve valuable historical documents. The sheer volume of material held by some of the larger institutions is daunting. For example, the Library of Congress Manuscript Division has 10,000 manuscript collections containing forty million items, while the National Archives and Records Administration contains three billion items in its collection, stored in 195 different stack areas.Montgomery 1993, 587Ironically, although the Supreme Court rejected Nixon’s constitutional claims in both cases, it left the way open for Nixon’s successful use of similar arguments to prevent the National Archives and Records Administration from publicly releasing the majority of his presidential records. Nixon’s continuing campaign to block release of his White House materials and his legacy of constitutional law have a direct bearing on the historical and archival professions, one of whose greatest missions is the preservation of the nation’s historical memory.Hefner 1996, 63Records created at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory are, in fact, federal records and therefore subject to the jurisdiction of the National Archives and Records Administration. Yet the records of this federally-funded scientific research have often been sought by other archival repositories in what amounts to a clear violation of ethical guidelines for collecting records as well as disregard for the laws governing the maintenance of federal records.NARA 2019The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation’s record keeper. Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only 1%-3% are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept by us forever.Bitter 2020, 468In June 2018, the current administration released Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century: Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations. This document was followed one year later by Memorandum M-19-21. The two documents outline the transition of federal recordkeeping from analog to digital. The memorandum mandates that by 2022 the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will no longer accept analog records. Both documents emphasize that managing analog records costs millions in taxpayer dollars, yet fail to acknowledge that digital records preservation is also expensive and more complicated than the preservation of analog records.
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).