recommended reading

Attendance Triples at Archives Event That Was Forced Online by Sequestration

Karin Hildebrand Lau/

It’s become a platitude of sequestration that scaling back doesn’t have to mean limiting services and that austerity can sometimes breed innovation.

That platitude is sometimes proven true in simple ways, though, such as an annual genealogy fair hosted by the National Archives and Records Administration that made the move this year from onsite to online.

The nine-year old fair drew about 850 in-person one-day attendants to tents outside the National Archives building in Washington in 2012. This year the online fair, held Sept. 3 and 4, topped off at about 5,500 total daily views and more than 3,000 unique viewers. That’s more than three times the attendance at its onsite predecessor.

The online fair was a money saver too, said Bill Mayer, the Archives’ executive for research services. The entire online conference cost about $3,000, Mayer said. That’s compared with about $60,000 simply to rent the tents for the onsite version, he said.

“I’ve been telling my staff this is the best damn glass of lemonade we’ve made all year,” he said, referring to the move that maintained services despite sequestration.

“A lot of genealogists are very interested in our records and finding new ways to reach them is probably the most gratifying part of this event,” he continued. “I’m not happy about sequestration, but I’d agree that oftentimes in order to be creative in providing new solutions you need to be pushed.”

The onsite fair was paid for with donated funds from the National Archives’ Foundation rather than taxpayer dollars, he said. Funding for the online fair came out of the Archives’ appropriated funds.

Federal agencies have canceled numerous conferences, fairs and training events in the past few years, in response both to financial constraints from sequestration and because of increased congressional and public scrutiny following high-price conference scandals at the General Services Administration and Veterans Affairs Department.

Several agencies have replaced those canceled conferences with webcasts and online trainings, but few have seen an attendance hike as significant as the genealogy fair.

During the fair, attendees were able to submit questions for presenters through a chat function and Archives staffers also took questions by phone and on Twitter, Mayer said.

The Archives is considering expanding the online fair into a larger genealogy training program similar to a Massive Open Online Course or MOOC, he said.

Archived video of the genealogy fair is available here.

(Image via Karin Hildebrand Lau/

Threatwatch Alert

Network intrusion

Florida’s Concealed Carry Permit Holders Names Exposed

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.