Detailed Information on the
National Archives and Records Administration: Records Services Program Assessment

Program Code 10001167
Program Title National Archives and Records Administration: Records Services Program
Department Name Natl Archives & Records Admin
Agency/Bureau Name National Archives and Records Administration
Program Type(s) Direct Federal Program
Assessment Year 2003
Assessment Rating Adequate
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 100%
Strategic Planning 75%
Program Management 86%
Program Results/Accountability 42%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2007 $388
FY2008 $389
FY2009 $424

Ongoing Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

NARA will develop targets for newly created unit-cost measures.

Action taken, but not completed

Refining its records management policies and strategies and engaging with Federal agencies to continue methods of improving records management across the Federal government.

Action taken, but not completed

Continuing to refine performance measures that assess the program's efforts in providing sufficient guidance and assistance to other Federal agencies on their records management efforts.

Action taken, but not completed

Completed Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

The 2005 Budget proposes funding for NARA to produce audited financial statements for the first time.


Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Annual Efficiency

Measure: Annual cost of archival storage space per cubic foot of traditional holdings (targets still under development)


Year Target Actual
2006 NA $6.42
2005 NA $6.48
Annual Efficiency

Measure: Percent of requests for military service separation records answered within 10 working days.


Year Target Actual
2002 35% 40%
2003 45% 37%
2004 70% 75%
2005 95% 88%
2006 95% 91%
2007 95%
2008 95%
Annual Efficiency

Measure: Percent of traditional NARA archival holdings described in an on-line catalog. Traditional holdings are books, papers, maps, photographs, motion pictures, sound and video recordings and other material not stored electronically.

Explanation:Traditional holdings include books, papers, maps, photographs, motion pictures, sound and video recordings and other documentary material that is not stored on electronic media. The unit of measure for traditional records is the cubic foot.

Year Target Actual
2002 20% 19%
2003 25% 20%
2004 30% 33%
2005 40% 42%
2006 50% 51%
2007 60%
2008 60%

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design
Number Question Answer Score

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: NARA's mission is to ensure ready access to essential evidence that documents the rights of American citizens, the actions of Federal officials, and the national experience.

Evidence: NARA Strategic Plan

YES 20%

Does the program address a specific and existing problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: NARA's Records Services program provides guidance and assistance to Federal officials on the management of records, determines the retention and disposition of federal records, and preserves for public and historical use records determined by the Archivist of the United States to have sufficient historical or other value to warrant their continued preservation by the U.S. Government.

Evidence: Title 44 U.S.C, sections 3101 and 3301

YES 20%

Is the program designed so that it is not redundant or duplicative of any Federal, state, local or private effort?

Explanation: NARA's Records Services program is for the most part designed to complement rather than duplicate records management and preservation efforts of other Federal Agencies and entities. The major exception is in regards to NARA Records Centers, which provide records management services to agencies (i.e. storage) that are also available from private sector companies and at least one Federal agency.

Evidence: Title 44 USC, Chapter 29, 31,33. As of October 1, 2002, federal agencies have the ability to store records with NARA, a private sector records company, or establish their own records center (36 CFR part 1228, subpart I) pursuant to NARA regulations (36 CFR part 1228, subpart k).

YES 20%

Is the program design free of major flaws that would limit the program's effectiveness or efficiency?

Explanation: NARA's records services program adequately supports the mission of NARA by managing, preserving, and providing access to US government records to the public. As part of NARA's strategic planning process, NARA anticipates and plans for future challenges in records management. As a result, NARA has initiated two major long-term programs to help address the challenges posed by the change from a federal government that produces mainly paper documents to one that produces mainly electronic records: the Records Management Initiative is intended to streamline and improve NARA's Federal records management services, and the Electronic Records Archives is intended to preserve and provide access to the growing number of federal electronic records.

Evidence: Report on Current Recordkeeping Practices within the Federal Government, SRA International, December 10, 2001. NARA Proposal for A Redesign of Federal Records Management, July 24, 2002. Electronic Records Archive website: www.archives.gov/electronic_records_archives/index.html. Electronic Records Management Initiative website: www.archives.gov/records_management/initiatives/erm_overview.html

YES 20%

Is the program effectively targeted, so program resources reach intended beneficiaries and/or otherwise address the program's purpose directly?

Explanation: Appropriated funding for NARA's Records Services program is applied to the management, preservation, and access to federal records. NARA's regional records centers operate on a fee-for service basis.

Evidence: The President's FY 2004 Budget requests more than $200 million dollars for NARA's Records Services Program, which include regional records services facilities, Presidential libraries, ISOO and records management services. This accounts for over 70 percent of NARA's total program costs.

YES 20%
Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design Score 100%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning
Number Question Answer Score

Does the program have a limited number of specific long-term performance measures that focus on outcomes and meaningfully reflect the purpose of the program?

Explanation: NARA's records services program has three long-term goals: (1) that essential evidence will be created, identified, appropriately scheduled, and managed for as long as needed; (2) essential evidence will be easy to access regardless of where it is or where users are for as long as needed; (3) all records will be preserved in an appropriate environment for use as long as needed. NARA has adequate long-term measures in place for goals two and three; NARA has reassessed its measures related to the creation and management of records for FY 2005 in order to make them more outcome-oriented.

Evidence: NARA Strategic Plan. An new goal related specifically to electronic records was added in NARA's 2003 update to its Strategic Plan.

YES 12%

Does the program have ambitious targets and timeframes for its long-term measures?

Explanation: NARA's targets and timeframes for its long-term measures are for the most part sufficiently ambitious, with the majority of its measures baselined in 1999.

Evidence: NARA's 2003 Strategic Plan. FY 2005 NARA Annual Performance Plan.

YES 12%

Does the program have a limited number of specific annual performance measures that demonstrate progress toward achieving the program's long-term measures?

Explanation: NARA has annual goals for records services that are determined based on the Long Range Targets set forth in the Strategic Plan. While NARA's annual measures related to access and preservation of records demonstrate progress towards long-term goals, NARA has reassessed its annual measures related to the creation and management of records for FY 05, some of which remain under development.

Evidence: NARA's 2003 Strategic Plan. FY 2005 NARA Annual Performance Plan.

YES 12%

Does the program have baselines and ambitious targets and timeframes for its annual measures?

Explanation: Most of NARA's annual measures were baselined in 1999, and have long range targets out through 2007. Quarterly trend data is available for most of these.

Evidence: Annual Performance Plans

YES 12%

Do all partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, etc.) commit to and work toward the annual and/or long-term goals of the program?

Explanation: NARA and other federal agencies share responsibility for Federal records management under the Federal Records Act. A NARA-commissioned report on records management practices indicated that, with certain exceptions, agencies for the most part view records management overall as a low priority, which may put records at risk. As part of its Records Management Initiative, NARA plans to more strongly advocate the importance of records management practices with agencies. In regards to the Electronic Records Archive, NARA has established multiple formal partnerships with educational and research institutes, such as the National Academy of Science and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Evidence: Report on Current Recordkeeping Practices within the Federal Government, SRA International, December 10, 2001.The report cites the following factors as evidence that several agencies view records management and recordkeeping as a low priority: lack of staff and budget resources, absence of up-to-date policies and procedures, lack of training and lack of accountability. Electronic Records Archives partnership agreements with research institutions and universities.

NO 0%

Are independent and quality evaluations of sufficient scope and quality conducted on a regular basis or as needed to support program improvements and evaluate effectiveness and relevance to the problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: The General Accounting Office and NARA's Office of the Inspector General perform reviews as needed on NARA's Records Services program.

Evidence: For a list of such reviews, see NARA's FY 2002 Annual Performance Report, Appendix B.

YES 12%

Are Budget requests explicitly tied to accomplishment of the annual and long-term performance goals, and are the resource needs presented in a complete and transparent manner in the program's budget?

Explanation: Although NARA's budget is clearly aligned to each of NARA's strategic goals, and NARA includes information on performance costs by linking goals and activities to dollars from each of its budget accounts, where practical NARA should more clearly indicate the connection between its annual and long-term performance measures and program activities and associated unit costs for base activities.

Evidence: NARA's FY 2004 Budget, Congressional Justification.

NO 0%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to correct its strategic planning deficiencies?

Explanation: NARA updates its Strategic Plan every three years to correct any strategic planning deficiencies. Its recent update included new unit cost measures. NARA assesses annual targets on a yearly basis to ensure continued improvement. For its FY 2005 budget, NARA indicated the connection between its performance measures and associated costs for new activities.

Evidence: For example, as NARA is in the update cycle of its Strategic Plan it is adding a new strategic goal and corresponding long-term and annual targets specifically related to disposition and preservation of electronic records due to the increased importance of this issue. NARA Notice 2003-064, Request for Comments on Strategic Plan Update; NARA Notice 2003-147, Request for Comments on Draft Strategic Plan.

YES 12%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 75%
Section 3 - Program Management
Number Question Answer Score

Does the agency regularly collect timely and credible performance information, including information from key program partners, and use it to manage the program and improve performance?

Explanation: NARA collects regular monthly performance data (published for agency-wide use on a quarterly basis) that it uses to manage its program and improve performance via the Performance Measurement and Review System (PMRS). NARA plans to move to a monthly data reporting system during FY 2004. The PMRS system incorporates both automatic and manual data checks to spot missing, partial, or discrepant data. NARA's Inspector General assists in determining the credibility of this data via yearly evaluations to assess data accuracy and validity of a portion of NARA's performance measures. IG reports over the last three years indicate that the majority of performance measures it has reviewed are supported by credible data.

Evidence: Performance Measurement and Reporting System; Quarterly Reports to the Archivist. IG Reports: Evaluation of the Accuracy of the Performance and Measurement and Reporting System. Since implementation of the Performance Measurement and Reporting System, NARA's IG has performed three reviews of PMRS. In total, 27 measures have been reviewed out of a current total of 27; 11 recommendations to improve the validity of the data were made over the course of the three reviews. NARA responds to IG recommendations via action plans. Further discussion of the data validity of NARA's measures may be found in NARA Annual Performance Reports.

YES 14%

Are Federal managers and program partners (grantees, subgrantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, etc.) held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results?

Explanation: The majority of NARA's employees, both temporary and permanent, are held accountable for performance results by linkage of their performance plans to NARA's strategic objectives. NARA managers' performance plans tie to annual performance targets, and performance is measured against these results.

Evidence: Performance Measurement and Reporting System; Quarterly Reports to the Archivist; NARA's 2002 APR stated that as of FY 02, 80% of NARA employees had performance plans linked to strategic outcomes.

YES 14%

Are all funds (Federal and partners') obligated in a timely manner and spent for the intended purpose?

Explanation: NARA has a limited amount of unobligated funds at the end of the year in its records services' accounts. Obligations and outlays are reviewed monthly.

Evidence: NARA obligated 99.5% of its appropriated funds in FY '02. NARA prepares monthly reports and conducts quarterly reviews that compare actual spending to program operating plans.

YES 14%

Does the program have procedures (e.g., competitive sourcing/cost comparisons, IT improvements, approporaite incentives) to measure and achieve efficiencies and cost effectiveness in program execution?

Explanation: Several of NARA's performance measures examine NARA's timeliness in providing access to records and in completing processing of scheduled records. In its updated Strategic Plan and APP for FY 2005, NARA has adopted a new cost-efficiency measure for management of electronic records and has developed several per unit cost measures for its services (with targets under development), including unit costs for storage of records.

Evidence: Annual APPs and APRs, NARA 801, IT Investment Analysis and Decision Process

YES 14%

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation: NARA's records management staff, part of their overall Records Services program, work with Records Managers at Federal agencies to provide guidance and assistance for agency Records Management programs via training, promulgation of regulations, guidance to agencies via Targeted Assistance Partnerships (TA) and limited audits. In its current form, the TA program has been largely limited to agency-determined, rather than NARA-determined needs, which may or may not show the full picture of an agency's records management challenges. As part of NARA's Records Management Initiative, NARA is looking at ways to focus and prioritize its assistance to agencies based on greater determination by NARA of which areas are most crucially in need of assistance. NARA should continue to examine methods with which it can more comprehensively address Federal records management challenges.

Evidence: Setting Priorities: A Handbook for Records Management Allocation.

YES 14%

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: NARA reported two material weaknesses in its FY '02 Financial Manager's Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA) report that relate to its records services programs- IT security (a material weakness since FY '00) and security of records collections. No definitive assessment may be made on the financial management of NARA's appropriated funding, because NARA has not previously produced audited financial statements on these funds. However, independent audits of NARA's Records Center Revolving Fund found no material weaknesses for FY 2001 and 2002.

Evidence: FY '02 Assurance Report to the President, IG reports. NARA will be required to produce audited statements on its appropriated funding for the first time in FY '04. Although the Accountability of Tax Dollars Act of 2002 required NARA and other listed agencies to produce audited financial statements in FY '03, NARA received a waiver for FY '03 from OMB.

NO 0%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to address its management deficiencies?

Explanation: NARA managers prepare annual assurance statements, which identify management deficiencies and steps for remediation. NARA managers prepare quarterly reports for the Archivist, which address annual performance targets, and progress on implementing recommendations from audits and reviews. Also, NARA's Leadership Team reviews strategic-level schedules and issues every month, and participates in cross-agency program review. NARA has either developed or plans to develop action plans to address all managerial weaknesses listed above.

Evidence: Annual Assurance Statements; Quarterly Reports to the Archivist; Monthly Strategic Schedule Reviews

YES 14%
Section 3 - Program Management Score 86%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability
Number Question Answer Score

Has the program demonstrated adequate progress in achieving its long-term outcome performance goals?

Explanation: The program has demonstrated adequate progress towards meeting its long-term performance goals related to access to records and preservation of records. NARA developed new, more outcome-oriented performance goals related to the creation and management of records for FY 2005, but results for these goals are not available at this time.

Evidence: NARA 2003 Strategic Plan, annual APPs and APRs


Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?

Explanation: The program for the most part achieves its annual performance goals.

Evidence: NARA Strategic Plan, annual APPs, APRs


Does the program demonstrate improved efficiencies or cost effectiveness in achieving program performance goals each year?

Explanation: NARA's peformance measures indicate that the program for the most part has increased efficiency by meeting several timing targets related to customer service. However, NARA is currently unable to demonstrate improved cost-efficiency in achieving its program goals. In its 2003 Strategic Plan and FY 05 APP, NARA developed a cost-efficiency measure for electronic records and developed several unit cost measures, but NARA will need to develop targets for its unit cost measures in order to be able to demonstrate improved cost-efficiency for its programs.

Evidence: FY 2002 Annual Performance Report. An example of NARA's improved efficiency in responding to customer service requests is its response rate to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, which improved from 20 percent to 81 percent of FOIA requests answered within 20 working days over the past two years.


Does the performance of this program compare favorably to other programs, including government, private, etc., that have similar purpose and goals?

Explanation: For the most part, this program is not directly comparable to any other Federal government programs or the private sector, and no studies have been made between the performance of NARA's Records Services program and those of other National Archives.

Evidence: Although NARA's Records Centers program offers services that could be compared with those provided by the Veterans Administration and by the private sector, no independent assessments have been made regarding how their performance compares with NARA.

NA 0%

Do independent and quality evaluations of this program indicate that the program is effective and achieving results?

Explanation: Independent evaluations of NARA's record services programs have indicated the need for major improvements in areas such as electronic records management and preservation and processing of veterans records. However, these evaluations also indicate that NARA is making progress in its efforts to improve program performance.

Evidence: For a list of such evaluations, see NARA's FY 2002 Annual Performance Report, Appendix B.

Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 42%

Last updated: 09062008.2003SPR