Statement on the Selection of the 11th Archivist of the United States

The Archivist of the United States has a central role in maintaining public trust. Public records are evidence, and that evidence serves as one of the cornerstones of our system of government. As the chief officer responsible for preserving, protecting, and providing access to the permanently valuable records of this country, the Archivist must be a leader for and practitioner of the standards and best practices the profession has developed over a century of American archival practice.

 The collected knowledge of the United States government is an information asset of unprecedented value that continues to grow at an unprecedented pace. The Archivist of the United States is the chief steward of that knowledge, an impartial custodian charged with preserving the essential evidence of our Republic. The Archivist must commit to modernization and innovation to meet the increasing challenges of the digital age; to preserve the historical record without bias or agenda; to advocate for greater investment in preservation of and equitable access to our public information; and to serve as a champion of the historical record, ensuring it can be relied upon as a source of fact and truth.

 For the last two decades, the archival and records management professions have considered and provided recommended qualifications for the role of Archivist of the United States. This essential role of stewardship within the federal government serves as a de facto national and international leader in the professions of archives and records management. These professions are dedicated to the preservation of truth and the elimination of bias, and therefore our leader must be a champion of accountability, transparency, and the advancement of recordkeeping expertise throughout government.

 A commitment to reliable, authentic, and trustworthy public records that are as open and transparent as possible begins with selecting the right people to be their custodians. Ultimately, the stewardship of public records is not the responsibility of one person, but many individual government officials at many levels of authority. For this reason, the person who leads that effort must be strategic, thoughtful, consistent, reliable, and steadfastly dedicated to this nation’s ideal of government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

 Furthermore, we endorse the Statement on Essential Characteristics of the Archivist of the United States, as written by our sister association, the Council of State Archivists (CoSA).

 See also NAGARA's companion document: Statement on the Qualifications to be Archivist of the United States.