“Countless federal records are being lost to posterity because federal employees, grappling with a staggering growth in electronic records, do not regularly preserve the documents they create on government computers, send by e-mail and post on the Web,” writes Robert Pear of the New York Times.
This confusion is causing alarm among historians, archivists, librarians, Congressional investigators and watchdog groups that want to trace the decision-making process and hold federal officials accountable. With the imminent change in administrations, the concern about lost records has become more acute.
“We expect to see the wholesale disappearance of materials on federal agency Web sites,” said Mary Alice Baish, the Washington representative of the American Association of Law Libraries, whose members are heavy users of government records. “When new officials take office, they have new programs and policies, and they want to make a fresh start.”
AALL’s Washington Blawg has more on the potential disappearance of these government records and the “short-sighted and disappointing decision of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) not to harvest agency Web sites at the end of this administration.”