Is NARA Ready Yet? The Newly Extended 2024 Start Date For Accessioning Records into the US National Archives Only in Electronic and Digital Formats, and What That Means

14:00 -14:30 (online)

Speaker: Jason R. Baron, Professor of the Practice, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland 

Abstract: For over a decade, the US Archivist has been attempting to mandate a future start date for the accessioning of all permanent federal government records into the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) solely in electronic or digital formats.  Although the “no more hard copy records” date for doing so has been extended twice, in the interim much has been accomplished in promoting governmental policies that involve the management of hundreds of millions if not billions of electronic records in individual agencies, including most prominently the archiving of e-mail records. Three questions we should be asking: how will NARA meet the challenge of accessioning especially born digital records when the deadline does finally arrive?  Are freedom of information laws up to the task of providing timely access in the future to those records? And how can AI tools assist in ensuring that public access to the government’s archives remains real and not just aspirational? 

Bio: Jason R. Baron is a Professor of the Practice in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. Between 2013 and 2020, he acted as Of Counsel to the eDiscovery & Information Governance group at Faegre Drinker, LLP. During his prior 33 years in government service, he served as the first appointed director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration, and before that as a trial lawyer and senior counsel at the Department of Justice. In those capacities, Mr. Baron acted as lead counsel on landmark lawsuits involving the preservation of White House email, and also played a leading role in improving federal electronic recordkeeping policies. He is a recipient of the international Emmett Leahy Award for his career contributions in records and information management. Mr. Baron received his B.A. magna cum laude with honors from Wesleyan University, and his J.D. from the Boston University School of Law.