Keeping NARA out in front for Digital Democracy

From smartphones to eBook readers to data centers to cloud services; from streaming media, to search engines to revolutions in inventory control and automated bar-coding – the work we do today for the Federal government relies on an astonishing range of tools and services provided by Networking and Information Technology (NIT) capabilities. These tools and services are critical in these days of budget limitations and economic competitiveness to achieve the goals of open government.  Achieving these goals requires strategic roadmaps and commitments that include addressing challenges and research opportunities for privacy and security, social computing, computer aided tools for data analysis and processing, data integrity, data storage/management, and data visualization.

A few weeks ago, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) submitted their report (available on the White House website), “Designing a Digital Future: Federally Funded Research and Development in Networking and Information Technology“  In this report, the PCAST provides recommendations  to the President and Congress on IT research priorities and opportunities for the Federal government.

NIT for Digital Democracy

If you don’t have time to read all 119 pages of this report, probably one of the most important sections pertaining to our work at NARA is covered in section 4.6, pages 33-36, NIT for Digital Democracy.   This section addresses the transformation of government operations that open new communication channels between government and citizens – and the potential for IT to improve public dialogues that make government operations more open and transparent. In fact, NARA is specifically named in the report (see p. 36) as a key player in the area of digital democracy – primarily as a direct result of our involvement in the NITRD program (read our Nov 2 blog about the NITRD) over the last several years, as well as our more recent involvement with the Open Government initiative to make available datasets from the National Archives via

The PCAST report is out for public comment on strategies for meeting the goals and recommendations of this report through the end of January. For more information about the PCAST report, and to leave your comments before 5p.m. on January 31, go to:

The U.S. has a proud history of achievement, innovation, and leadership in its investment of information technology and networking capabilities that benefits our economic competitiveness, our national security, and our quality of life.  For NARA, the PCAST recommendations – if adopted by the President – will facilitate our mission of serving American democracy through the safeguarding, preservation, and continued access to the records of our Government.

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