CENDI PRINCIPALS AND ALTERNATES MEETING
National Archives and Records Administration
March 3, 2010
Final Minutes - Technical Program
Task/Working Group Chairs
Ms. Herbst, CENDI Chair, opened the meeting at 9:15 am. She thanked the National Archives for hosting and introduced the new Archivist of the United States, Dr. David Ferriero, who welcomed CENDI and made opening remarks.
Dr. Ferriero has been on the job since the middle of November, learning from staff and stakeholders how NARA’s mission fits within the federal government. NARA is well respected and trusted as a non-partisan partner. Additional responsibilities have been assigned to NARA based on this partnership, including the CUI (Controlled Unclassified Information) Office, the Office of Government Information Services, and the National Declassification Center. In addition, the initiatives around the Electronic Records Archives, Digital Access Strategies, and the Open Government Plan are of high importance.
Dr. Ferriero has been meeting with Beth Noveck about the Administration’s open government initiative. Other issues important to NARA include records management policy and guidance and providing records management support, training and feedback to federal agencies. He wants to ensure that S&T records are considered in these discussions, especially since there is a continued blurring of the line between archival records and research data. Also, the right to know and security requirements must be balanced. Dr. Ferriero looks forward to working with CENDI to deal with many of these issues of common interest.
“Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)” Link to presentation (.pdf)
William (Jay) Bosanko, Director, Information Security Oversight Office
Controlled Unclassified Information is defined as information that for some reason requires safeguarding or dissemination controls either to the public or within government. The requirement for safeguarding or dissemination controls may come from regulations, laws, or policies. Unfortunately, some implementations don’t rest in any of these enabling documents. Well meaning individuals, seeking to protect information over the years, have used distribution limitations in various ways. You will often hear information sharing used to describe why CUI Reform is being undertaken. However, reform is just “good government,” seeking to ensure standardization, efficiency, and effective operations. The approach is to have only as much control as necessary and only where needed, because we don’t have resources to protect everything.
Markings should have meaning both within the government and outside. It is important that the system have the confidence of the public and the Legislative Branch. Currently, there are more than 100 markings in use throughout the Executive Branch. Many are similar. There are instances where the same marking has different meanings in different agencies.
Markings and control regimes should enable and not impede a mission function. There are cases where the interpretation of markings has hindered agency missions and information sharing. For example, “Law Enforcement – Sensitive,” where post 9/11, there were cases where a state Homeland Security Coordinator could not receive threat information from the US Government because that person wasn’t a sworn law enforcement officer, but only acting in a role that had a law enforcement purpose. The challenges in the paper world increase exponentially when dealing in an electronic environment. What has been lacking has been standardization.
There have been a number of efforts to examine the situation. The Presidential Memorandum on the Designation and Sharing of Controlled Unclassified Information (May 2008) assigned the role to NARA. NARA does not have a “dog in the fight” but they do have a stake at the end of the information management lifecycle. They already had ISOO (Information Security Oversight Office) who is responsible for the classified system. Some argued that the Presidential Memo did not have the same standing as an Executive Order. This caused some initial issues, including resources.
The focus of the memo was on terrorism information in the information sharing environment. However, it is very difficult to define “terrorism information”. Some agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intended to use the category for all information rather than maintain multiple control systems. At the same time other agencies determined that they didn’t have anything to do with terrorism information, and, therefore, didn’t need to use it. Sensitive but unclassified was still separate from terrorism information. From the time the memo was issued until the end of 2008, Congress made it clear that they were dissatisfied with the proliferation of markings and the inconsistent interpretation by agencies.
The current Administration is trying to determine its stance with respect to CUI. DHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) led a quick task force established by the President to make recommendations on the scope (limited to terrorism or all sensitive but unclassified information) and how to assess agency progress. It added a connection between CUI and openness and transparency and to balance protection with the public’s right to know. During this 90-day effort, they heard from not only the task force members but other stakeholders, including public interest groups, agencies outside the information sharing environment, the public sector, and state, local and tribal entities. The report made more than forty recommendations. It was accepted by the President and released to the public – http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/cui_task_force_rpt.pdf .
A special effort is underway to further CUI reform, to include a possible Executive Order. This is being led within the White House with many of the key agencies represented.
NARA’s CUI Office is trying to do what CENDI did with the Distribution Markings document, to identify the markings that are needed, map and define them, and then put them into a public registry.
There is also a need for baseline training for any agency that requires it as well as additional, agency-specific training. At this point, everything gets stamped because people consider the potential for punitive action. However, this is poor information management. The markings that aren’t agency-specific will be reviewed for standardization by the CUI Council and, if approved, the markings would be added to the registry. The effort to consider a draft Executive Order should be completed by this spring.
The composition of the CUI Council may change in the future. The CUI Task Force recommended inclusion of additional stakeholders. Currently, there is no one who is covering the STI sector as a whole. They may want to consider this.
Mosaic and the ability to easily combine otherwise non-sensitive material to get something that is sensitive is still an issue. This connects with Open Government and what should be released on Data.gov. The CUI initiative is pushing for the end state where you have classification or CUI and only these two approaches.
“Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)” Link to presentation (.pdf)
Miriam Nisbet, Director, Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)
The OGIS has two main responsibilities: 1) To review agency performance under FOIA and recommend what can be improved and 2) To provide mediation services between requestors and agencies.
The Open Government Act of 2007 amended the Freedom of Information Act (5 USC sec. 552(h)(1)) and created the Office of Government Information Services. There was a bit of a lag getting the office established as there were discussions about where the office should be housed. OGIS has responsibility for both review and policy. FOIA Reform is also supported by the Open Government Directive in the areas of collaboration, reducing backlogs, etc. OGIS is working with DOJ on annual agency report issues and with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
A key responsibility is providing mediation services. The goal is to resolve FOIA disputes more quickly and cost effectively. OGIS has a FOIA Ombudsperson role to which the agency or a requester can come to ask for help or information. The office will also provide skills training. Comments are requested via their web site (www.archives.org/ogis). Cases are published each week. The number of requests for assistance has really increased, with almost twice the number of cases being address. There are more than 600,000 FOIA requests each year, which do not include privacy requests. It costs about $1.3 million to administer, not including the cost of litigation. OGIS is looking at online dispute options such as those used in online retail. Alternative Dispute Resolution is to be added into the administrative process.
The role of FOIA Public Liaison is now a statutory requirement at each agency with the responsibility to resolve disputes and provide status updates. The goal is to improve performance and make recommendations to Congress about what needs to be changed. OGIS is working with the FOIA Public Liaisons. Skills training is being rolled out for these liaisons later in March.
Similar to the Open Government Directive, OGIS has a strong interagency collaboration focus. Several agencies have already agreed to pilot programs marrying policy and operations. There is no specific categorization of FOIA requests, but generally they relate to contracts, people asking for records on themselves, and regulatory (such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and EPA). What people request shapes how the agencies respond since a goal is to put the information out before it is requested. These pilot programs are being viewed as models. Ms. Nisbet believes that interagency collaboration is coming into its heyday.
There was discussion about each agency putting up the FOIAed documents or documents in anticipation of FOIA. The thought would then be to federate the availability of each agency list into a government-wide point of access.
“National Declassification Center (NDC)” Link to presentation (.pdf)
Michael Kurtz, Assistant Archivist, Office of Records Services
The Public Interest Declassification Board grew out of the Moynihan Commission in 2007. Thirteen of the recommendations of the Board were focused on declassification. In May 2009, the President directed that the current Executive Order on Classification and Declassification be revised and part of the change should be the establishment of a National Declassification Center (defined in Section 3.7(b) of Executive Order 1352). This short circuited agency debate about whether there should be such a center. Now the discussions have become more fruitful under the principle – “Releasing All We Can – Protecting What We Must”.
The EO requires that approximately 408 million pages be reviewed for possible declassification by December 31, 2013. In order to accomplish this task, the NDC has a major business process reengineering (BPR) effort using DoD’s Lean 6 Sigma approach to work flow processes. They are developing strategies and processes to eliminate the backlog. Quality assurance and “to be” procedures are being developed so that the accessioning of new records will not create another backlog. The BPR started in October, in advance of the establishment of the NDC in January 2010. The BPR study ends in May and, by the end of June, the new processes must be up and running. A progress report to the public is required every six months. Follow-up projects will focus on paper-based processes. Work will also be done on information technology (IT) system design, which includes a communication system between NARA and the agencies and also putting records online as they are declassified.
A communication strategy is a big component of the effort. The NDC web site will be used. There will be links to resources about the EO. Newly declassified records are being put up as they become available. An NDC mailbox is being used to collect comments and a number of town hall meetings and briefings are scheduled.
The Prioritization Plan incorporates input from the public and the historical community. The goal is to do the review based on researcher interest. The draft of this plan will be completed soon and will be made available for comment on blogs, in the Federal Register, and through briefings. The main challenge is how to balance the various researcher interests and topics.
The revised EO required standardization across agencies in four areas: referral data collection; the process for data and referral transfer to NDC; the review and process of classified referrals in the NDC and out to the agencies; and interagency training programs. For example, agencies have declassification guides but they have not been shared. An online library is being planned where all the agencies will have access. Seven courses, three instructor-led and four online, are being planned for reviewers in the agencies. These activities should promote better understanding of agency equities across the agencies.
NARA is leading an Interagency Steering Group that includes DOE, the State Department, DoD, the Central Intelligence Agency CIA, and the [Office of the] Director of National Intelligence (DNI), which have most of the records and equities that are of concern. (DOE Restricted Data and Formerly Restricted Data are not covered by the EO.) This group will meet routinely during the ramping up process.
The new work flow processes are being used on the FOIA process described by Ms. Nisbet. The goal is to take advantage of the agency staff who are actually on-site at College Park. Of course, the real challenge is the billions of classified digital records. The EO directed that DoD’s research agency and intelligence counterparts support the digital record challenge. The CIA has been working with the University of Texas to develop more automated classification methods that can also be used to support declassification.
The FY11 Budget includes money for the NDC, including additional staff and funding for the IT system design. The results of the BPR will make this design clearer. The simpler the work processes, the less the agencies have to do. The NDC will work on processes for retaining information under other markings such as proprietary, export controlled, etc., even after declassification.
Electronic Records Archive (ERA) Link to presentation (.pdf)
The ERA is an IT system to manage, preserve and provide access to electronic records. NARA has been accessioning electronic records since about 1969. The ERA system is being built in five increments; they are now in Increment Three. Currently, there is an operational system located in West Virginia, and there are three instances deployed. The system will include the records schedules for both paper and digital records in the federal government.
The ERA Base was built during Increment One. This involved inputting schedules, ingesting permanent records, making bit copies, and safely storing the records. Currently, it is possible to search at the metadata level. Schedules are included for four agencies and NARA is acting as the fifth agency, putting in the schedules and supporting the ingest of the records. In this way, ERA is operational.
Increment Two was the transfer of the Bush Administration’s records. NARA worked closely with the White House to obtain and transport large disk arrays containing 78 terabytes to the West Virginia operations center where they were attached to the storage system. The only people who currently have access to these records are the Presidential Library System staff. However, this is essentially an operational system under ERA against which 38,000 searches have already been run.
The ERA architecture must be evolutionary. Open source and open standards are used as much as possible. The system will and must keep changing to stay current with technology. The Preservation Framework Prototype is a flexible framework to enable the deployment of various tools for transforming electronic records from one format to another. They are trying to be very pragmatic by swapping various transformation tools in and out. Work is underway internationally to create pieces of transformation tools in a modular approach. The prototyping for this is going quite well.
Increment Four will engage 25-30 agencies and deploy the Preservation Framework. By 2012, it is anticipated that it will be mandatory for agencies to use ERA. Access capabilities will be extended. NARA will deploy a classified instance which will likely support the NDC activities. Focus will continue on emergent technologies, improved operations, and system maintenance. The annual budget is approximately $85 million; NARA does not believe that it can ask for additional funds until the agencies or the public are using the ERA system. We anticipate that improved access and improved preservation of electronic records will provide budget justification for the future.
Online Public Access (OPA) Link to presentation (.pdf)
NARA’s Online Public Access Integrated Product Team was chartered in August 2008. The objective is to manage and preserve and provide access to NARA records over time. It is the online interface for ERA. The systems builder is Lockheed Martin. The Integrated Product Team (IPT) was a safe place to develop vision without constraints. The Team developed a list of guiding principles and developed mock-ups of their ideas. The essential principle is that the results are user focused. They took 2008-2009 user surveys from a number of different sources and distilled them down to find who their researchers are, who the online users are, and what each of these groups want. They were surprised to a find a great deal of overlap. We posed a question to our online users, “What is the best thing about archives.gov?” One striking response was “If I can’t find what I want, there is no best thing.”
This group began to think about NARA’s presence on the Web as a whole rather than just focusing on individual systems. They want to federate archives.gov and pull in the Presidential Libraries and ERA. NARA is currently taking its first steps to implement this vision by focusing on streamlined search. Previous legacy systems, including ARC and AAD as well as archives.gov will be part of the OPA search. Currently, 68 percent of NARA’s holdings are described in the ARC.
Level of service questions arise; these policies and procedures still need to be worked out. In addition it is necessary to balance between ease of use and accuracy/precision. A major challenge is to blend the experience of online with the fact that a lot of the information is available only in print and at NARA facilities. The display and navigation should be useable and appealing. Useful and timely statistics become more important and have more influence because we want to know what users want and what level of service they need. New technologies such as linked data, social media (Flickr, Facebook, NARAtions blog, social bookmarking and Twitter) are being explored. An “Ask an Archivist” pilot will be coming soon. Interaction with the public will continue and the Web redesign will reflect this.
The prototype for OPA will be released to NARA staff in April 2010 to provide comment and feedback. The release to the public is scheduled for December 2010. Feedback will be solicited and updates will be made based on the analysis of public comments. Continual additions of data and functionality are planned.
“DOT Digital Library: Program and Activities” Link to presentation (.pdf)
Amanda Wilson, Director, DOT National Transportation Library
Ms. Herbst introduced the DOT National Transportation Library as the newest member of CENDI. The application for membership had been approved earlier with the understanding that the final requirement, a presentation to the group, would be met. Amanda Wilson, the Director of the Library, gave the presentation.
The US DOT Library and the US National Transportation Library (NLT) are now one. The NLT, which is mandated by Congress to work with external partners, is much broader than the DOT Library which is becoming increasingly focused on the needs of the Washington DC staff. There are ten federal staff and six contractors. Since the merger, they have begun to form a working team and to achieve some synergies on cataloging and reference. Funding comes from different sources. The Research and Innovative Technology Administration provides funds for programs and staff. The Office of the Secretary continues to provide some working capital funds supporting collection development. Tensions arise when budgets are presented because their use of digital resources isn’t counted to really help the metrics of the DOT Library.
The NLT developed a vision as a single team. It includes reference services, collections, and resource development (the TLCat union catalog using OCLC), and networking activities (which include single-person libraries at the state level). The Transportation Librarians’ Roundtable was initiated in October 2007. They have monthly web conferences which attract about 45 people per session. The group includes three major universities with collections in transportation.
As part of the Recovery Act, they developed a tiger team to quickly pull together Recovery Act Information related to transportation. The resulting services have been very well received. Callers generally reach a live person right away. FAQs and knowledge bases are also being built.
Reference services started as totally digital in the NTL. Now, they also manage a physical collection from the DOT Library. Originally, the NTL used Dublin Core instead of MARC. Currently, they are going back and making the system Z39.50 compliant. Their system is homegrown and is OAI-PMH (Open Archives Initiative – Protocol for Metadata Harvesting)-compliant.
The NTL wants to be the repository for journal literature. They are working on a new search engine based on the ExLibris Primo product. MetaLib is used to federate across the databases. The Transportation Research Thesaurus is used as a taxonomy for web sites and data catalogs. There is a great need for managed terminology within Transportation and so the thesaurus is distributed widely.
The support for the Transportation Knowledge Networks, which began in 2006, is increasing. Regional networks exist for states and include other kinds of agencies with DOT as the central coordinator. A business plan was developed that included the call for a formal national coordinating body, but there has never been any legislation enacted.
The NTL has been a member of Science.gov since last year. Ms. Wilson showed the impact of Science.gov membership on usage statistics.
The NTL’s strategies for the future include moving toward discovery, in particular federated search; continued development of the thesaurus toward an ontology and linking with other taxonomies and thesaurus efforts, such as those of other CENDI members; improving competencies in knowledge management and knowledge sharing; a closer partnership and collaboration with records management within the agency; and strengthening its role as a leader in information management, sharing, standards and technologies. They believe that CENDI can help them achieve these goals.
After Ms. Wilson’s presentation, Ms. Herbst formally welcomed NTL/DOT as the newest member of CENDI.
CENDI Meritorious Service Award Presentation
Ms. Herbst presented the CENDI 2009 Meritorious Service Award to Vicki Allums and Nancy Kremers for outstanding service to the CENDI Copyright Working Group and, in particular, for their leadership in producing the “Frequently Asked Questions about Copyright and Computer Software” published by CENDI in November 2009. She thanked the Awards Committee: Christina Dunn, George Roncaglia, and Eleanor Frierson.
Ms. Allums accepted the award acknowledging the leadership of Bonnie Klein and Chris Cole, the input from the other working group members, and the support from the Secretariat. She thanked CENDI for the opportunity to participate in a group that is so relevant to her work and that provides a network of colleagues provided by no other organization. She acknowledged the importance of the input from both the attorneys and the operations managers when developing the Working Group products. The new FAQ has been introduced in a number of venues and is being regarded as a very valuable tool by attorneys and operations staff alike.
Ms. Klein accepted the award on behalf of Ms. Kremers who is out of the country. Ms. Klein read an e-mail from Ms. Kremers in which she thanked CENDI for this award and also acknowledged the work of her colleagues.
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