PROFESSOR ALLEN WEINSTEIN, Archivist of the United States
before the Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, District of Columbia
Committee on Appropriations House of Representative
FY 2006 Appropriations for the National Archives and Records Administration
April 26, 2005
Chairman Knollenberg, Congressman Olver, members of the subcommittee, and subcommittee staff, I am Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States, and it is my distinct pleasure to be with you today. Mr. Chairman, it is my understanding that the National Archives has not had an appropriations hearing for several years. Therefore, I want to particularly thank you and your excellent staff for holding this hearing today. I also want to thank you and the other members of the subcommittee for the time taken from your busy schedules to meet with me on this year’s budget request. All of the people at the National Archives and the millions that we serve are most grateful for your consideration.
I want to introduce my colleagues that accompany me here at the table today. Dr. Lewis Bellardo is Deputy Archivist of the United States and is the former state archivist of Kentucky. Adrienne Thomas is Assistant Archivist for Administrative Services and in that capacity heads up our budget and finance operation.
Allow me a brief word of introduction about the National Archives and my view of the task ahead. This is a critical juncture for NARA. We live in a world of increasing dependence on electronic records and retrieval, unprecedented security and preservation concerns, and insufficient attention to civic and democratic education. We at NARA must work cooperatively and creatively to meet these challenges.
This spring we will celebrate, with appropriate programs on NARA’s past, present, and future, the 20th anniversary of NARA’s independence from the General Services Administration. When we at the National Archives and Records Administration honor our basic mission of preserving and assuring timely, maximum access to the American people of our governmental records, we help not only to assure the continuing liberties of our own citizens but we display for the entire world an essential component of a healthy democracy. Not only the Archivist alone but all who work for NARA are designated custodians of America's national memory. Thus, when NARA hosts the International Council of Archives meeting in Washington, DC, tomorrow, it will be playing not only an important technical role, but a broadly philosophical role as well in welcoming colleagues from abroad.
Mr. Chairman, we are a national organization with 36 facilities in 20 states and the District of Columbia. From Anchorage to Atlanta, from Grand Rapids to Fort Worth, and from Laguna Niguel to Pittsfield, we are preserving the records of our national life and responding to literally millions of requests each year from the Executive branch, the Congress, the Courts, and from the citizens who own these records. We have 2,800 employees who take this responsibility very seriously and who join me in the hope that you will support the resources to ensure our ongoing service to the American people.
The 2006 Request
Our overall request for fiscal year 2006 is $313,846,000. This total is made up of a request for Operating Expenses of $280,975,000, less $9,225,000 for redemption of debt on Archives II, an Electronic Records Archives request of $35,914,000, and Repairs and Restoration funding of $6,182,000.
Mr. Chairman, our total request represents a 1.2% increase over the 2005 enacted level of $310,233,000. Within that small net increase our Operating Expenses budget reflects a 6.1% increase over our 2005 enacted level. Our request for the Electronic Records Archives represents flat funding from the 2005 enacted level and our Repairs and Restoration request, while below the enacted level, is consistent with last year’s request. As you are aware, we have included no funding in the 2006 request for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
Base Funding Increases
Mr. Chairman, for a small agency, one of our first priorities is to protect the base funding level from the erosion caused by such fixed cost increases as pay raises, utility and other rate changes over which we have no control. This represents almost half of our requested increases for fiscal year 2006.
For FY 2006, NARA requests $4,997,000 for critical cost increases for pay raises, facility rate changes, rent changes, and information technology rate changes.
The $4,997,000 we are requesting will pay for the most critical cost increases, thereby ensuring that existing program funding continues to support key services to the public.
Critical cost increases are requested for annualization of the January 2005 pay increase ($462,000); the proposed January 2006 pay increase ($1,937,000); one less compensable day in 2006 ($-441,000); non-pay inflationary rate changes ($508,000); NARA facility rate changes ($549,000); GSA rent rate changes ($896,000); and information technology rate changes ($1,086,000).
For FY 2006, NARA requests $3,158,000 for increased utilities costs at NARA-owned facilities.
Costs for utilities—electricity, gas, steam, fuel oil, and water—have been skyrocketing nationwide. Last summer we received a notice from the Potomac Electric Power Company that our electric rates for the Washington, DC, area were going up 55 percent because of the expiration of regulated price controls. Costs for utility services at several Presidential libraries are expected to increase between 10 and 43 percent.
NARA will use the $3,158,000 request to pay the higher utility costs forecast for FY 2006. Maintaining electrical systems and keeping temperature and humidity are important basics for preservation of our holdings as well as providing an appropriate work environment for staff and a safe environment to serve the public.
For FY 2006, NARA requests $2,021,000 for increased security guard costs at NARA-owned facilities.
NARA must provide security at our facilities to protect our public patrons, our staff, and our holdings. Currently, we own two Level IV Federal buildings and more than 10 Level III buildings for which we contract for security. The war on terrorism and the continued threat of a terrorist attack in the United States has a direct effect on the cost of our security guard contracts. In FY 2004, the cost of renewing six guard contracts increased by between 19 and 74 percent. More increases are expected for contracts that will be renewed in FY 2005 and FY 2006. To maintain an acceptable level of security that meets Federal standards at NARA facilities, we need additional funding.
We will use the $2,021,000 request to maintain adequate security forces to ensure that NARA facilities are protected and do not become soft targets and to ensure that we have a visible deterrent to theft of our valuable historical records.
For FY 2006, NARA requests $300,000 to pay for the storage of archival records in NARA records centers.
Federal agencies and NARA records centers now hold several very large series of records that are scheduled to become archival records in the next few years. These records include such series as Official Military Personnel Files that document the service of millions of military veterans; Veterans Administration claim files that document the benefits received by millions of veterans; Selective Service draft registration records; Railroad Retirement Board case files that document employment of thousands of people on the nation’s railroads; and millions of passport application files. These records have been actively used by agencies and by the public to secure their rights and entitlements. Because these documents contain a rich variety of personal information, we expect that when they become archival records, they will be used heavily by genealogists, historians, and other researchers, much as the census and ship passenger arrival records are used today.
Because these series are so huge, we cannot accession them immediately into our archival facilities. Until new archival space in the regions comes on line later this decade, we must accession these records “in place” in NARA records centers. That means we must pay the Records Center Program for the storage of these records.
Together with funding already in our base, our request of $300,000 will pay for the expected volume of more than 216,000 cubic feet of archival records that will be accessioned in place in NARA records centers.
For FY 2006, NARA requests $785,000 to replace our financial management service provided.
Historically, NARA has contracted out its payroll and accounting services. We are requesting $785,000 to change accounting service providers to the Bureau of Public Debt. A new accounting and payroll service provider will enable NARA to prepare reliable financial statements, properly account for our resources in a timely manner, and comply with the Accountability of Tax Dollars Act of 2002 and the Federal Managers’ Financial Integrity Act.
The Bureau will provide NARA with standard monthly financial management reports, online access to financial information, and system interfaces with payroll, travel, and time and attendance systems. The Bureau also will prepare our quarterly financial statements and notes, provide assistance with accounting transactions, and prepare all external reports for submission to OMB and Treasury.
Obtaining a new financial management service provider will improve NARA’s financial decision-making because we will have more accurate, valid, and timely data. We will be able to comply with Government financial requirements, which should result in a more favorable audit opinion. Both internal and external NARA customers will greatly benefit from this change in service providers.
Operating Expenses Increases
In order to address the challenges of providing adequate security for our collections, our FY 2006 request includes the following items:
$3,353,000 to replace the physical access control system at the National Archives at College Park.
Security of holdings and staff is a challenge because access controls are not standardized NARA-wide. Some locations have electronic access and others still use standard key and tumbler locks, which provide no accountability for who is entering the stacks at what time. We know we need to standardize access control to our holdings and buildings to protect and secure our documents and our staff.
In FY 2006, we propose to replace the aging access control system at the National Archives at College Park where the vast majority of our permanent archival records are stored and where a large percentage of our staff work. When it was installed in the early 1990s, the key card access system was state-of-the-art. Today, however, the system is obsolete, replacement parts are difficult to obtain, and the software is no longer supported by its developer. We risk a complete system failure, which would leave our stacks and vaults unprotected if we do not replace the system.
The $3,353,000 we are requesting will allow us to replace our obsolete access control system at the National Archives at College Park with a new 21st-century system that uses smart-chip technology and meets Federal guidelines and standards. The system will provide a first line of defense for the nation’s valuable and historic records, which NARA protects in our facilities nationwide.
$100,000 and one FTE to expand the investigative capacity of the Office of the Inspector General.
NARA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) must have the staff resources to better protect the holdings entrusted to this agency. NARA efforts to meet its mission of providing ready access to our customers must be balanced with controls to both mitigate and subsequently address the alienation of our holdings. Failure on either end of this spectrum can be exploited by persons who would choose to steal documents and images for their own selfish gain or monetary reward. The extent of occurrence is not quantifiable at this point, but there is clear evidence that e-commerce has inflated this risk to a level at which the failure to act is considered to be imprudent and unacceptable.
NARA’s investigative staffing of three FTEs has remained static since the inception of the OIG in 1989. This staffing level predates the opening of three Presidential libraries, additional records centers, rapid escalation in the use of contractors, and the explosion of the Internet and related e-commerce. While the investigative mission of the OIG has remained generally constant, the aforementioned changes in the investigative landscape have drastically reduced the level of coverage that can be extended to our customers. With the prominence of vehicles such as online auction sites, the opportunity for any individual to become a dealer is now being realized.
NARA is taking initial measures recommended by the OIG to educate the public and establish proactive controls and measures to mitigate theft and promote recovery of holdings. The investigative activity required to prosecute and recover NARA holdings is both time sensitive and time consuming. This effort will likely command OIG investigative resources on a much higher scale than in prior years but is essential if this agency is to protect our holdings for this and future generations.
To address the investigative requirements for this agency, the OIG is requesting one new position.
For FY 2006, NARA requests $1,076,000 and one FTE for a full review of our vital capabilities and development of continuity of operations alternate locations and plans.
NARA’s essential operations nationwide must be capable of functioning in the event of a local or national crisis. The Federal Register Act requires the Office of the Federal Register to prepare for publication of the Federal Register each Federal business day, regardless of weather or other types of emergencies that may close other Federal operations. Publication, even during emergencies, is critical because many of the emergency actions that Executive agencies and the President need to take to respond to the emergency require the legal authority that comes from publication in the Federal Register.
In accordance with Presidential Decision Directive 67, Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations, dated October 21, 1998, NARA must have a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP). Each Federal Executive Branch agency is responsible for appointing a senior executive as an emergency coordinator to serve as program manager and agency point of contact for developing viable and executable COOP plans, coordinating agency COOP activities, and facilitating interagency coordination as appropriate.
We need to develop a COOP plan for each NARA location nationwide. To date, our priority has been to have basic plans in place for NARA headquarters elements and the Office of the Federal Register. An alternate facility has been identified for NARA headquarters, but one still needs to be identified for the Office of the Federal Register. This includes space, hardware, and software to activate COOP plans for publication of the Federal Register at three different locations (primary and two alternates). We must have the infrastructure that prepares us for any circumstances that would prevent the Office of the Federal Register from publishing the Federal Register. Other NARA units in regional records centers and archives and Presidential libraries also must continue to function in an emergency to ensure access to essential evidence by Government officials and the public as appropriate. We will address this urgent need by developing COOP plans for all operating elements in NARA.
The $1,076,000 we are requesting will allow NARA to meet mandated obligations for a viable COOP.
For FY 2006, NARA requests $240,000 to enhance the Federal Register’s publication process.
NARA publishes the Federal Register each Federal business day. A substantial cross-section of the public, including business executives, consumer groups, environmentalists, and lawyers, regularly consult and rely on the Federal Register. Recently, we have begun testing an electronic editing and publishing system, called eDOCS, which will help streamline the publication of the Federal Register. We electronically accept Federal Register documents from three agencies and process these documents using eDOCS workflow and editing tools.
The funding we are requesting will allow NARA to make improvements to eDOCS suggested by users, make enhancements to the E-Rulemaking module of the system, and create an interface and make the eDOCS system compatible with the Federal Docket Management System to create a streamlined electronic process for rulemaking. The enhancements also will make eDOCS more flexible so it can more easily operate from an alternate location in the event of an emergency.
Mr. Chairman, there were a number of Archives issues that we discussed in our earlier meeting, and with your permission this afternoon I’d like to update you and the subcommittee on four of them: our Electronic Records Archives, the National Archives Experience and other educational programming, the Nixon Library, and the collection security at the National Archives.
Electronic Records Archives (ERA)
In the Federal Government, electronic records are as indispensable as their paper counterparts for documenting citizens' rights, the actions for which officials are accountable, and the nation's history. Effective democracy depends on access to such records. But we will lose the millions of records being created daily in a dizzying array of electronic forms unless we find a way to preserve and keep them accessible indefinitely. Despite much effort, there seemed to be no feasible way to do that. Until now.
Research promoted by NARA within a major coalition of Federal and private sector research partners has at last demonstrated that an Electronic Records Archives can be built. And with support from the White House, the Congress, Federal agencies, communities of concerned professionals, and other financial, technological, and implementation partners, NARA is at work to build it.
The entire Federal Government—indeed, today's "information society" at large—has a stake in our success. The Electronic Records Archives will authentically preserve and provide access to any kind of electronic record, free from dependency on any specific hardware or software. It will deliver greater quantities of information, quickly and for as long as needed, to every office, library, school, and home in America with an Internet connection. It will give increased reality to e-Government. And Electronic Records Archives technology promises to be useful to many kinds of archives, libraries, agencies, and businesses, regardless of size.
In August 2004, NARA awarded two contracts for design and development of the Electronic Records Archives system. During the first year of the contract, the two prime contractors, Harris Corporation of Melbourne, FL, and Lockheed Martin Corporation of Bethesda, MD, are each conducting a thorough analysis of NARA’s requirements for the system and developing an overall architecture and design to address these requirements. At the end of this year, NARA will select one of the two contractors to proceed with development of the system. The selection will be based on a determination of which contractor offers the best value considering the technical solution, the systems engineering methods the contractor uses, its capability to manage the development successfully, and cost. The contracts give the Government rights in data such that, if one or more aspects of the solution proposed by the losing contractor would improve the winner’s solution, NARA can communicate those aspects to the winner.
There are four major milestones in the first year of the contract: (1) the translation of NARA’s requirements, expressed in terms of its business needs, into specifications suitable for actual systems engineering, (2) the articulation of an overall system architecture and a corresponding design, (3) the development of a prototype demonstrating the contractor’s approach to key requirements, as well as its ability to develop a system based on its architecture, and (4) a cost proposal. NARA has received the deliverables for the first milestone, System Requirements Specifications, from both contractors and completed interactive review with each. In each case, NARA identified areas that needed to be improved or clarified. Both contractors have addressed more than 90 percent of NARA’s criticisms satisfactorily. NARA has received the architecture and design documents from both contractors and is in the process of reviewing these major deliverables for the second milestone. Review meetings have been scheduled with both in May. Both contractors will deliver their costs proposals in mid-May and will demonstrate their prototypes in June.
NARA expects to award the first contract option to the winning contractor in August.
NARA requests $35,914,000 for the Electronic Records Archives Program in FY 2006. This represents an increase of $287,000 for restoration of the 2005 across-the-board rescission. These funds are necessary for program management, for electronic records research, and primarily for the detailed design and development of the first increment of the system. This level of funding is needed to ensure that the system acquisition adheres to best practices and industry standards; to ensure that the ERA system will be able to preserve new types of electronic records which will be created with emerging technologies as well as to align NARA’s direction with that determined in the President’s agenda for coordinated research and development of information and networking technology across the Government; and especially to advance the system development in order to achieve operational capability, and thus to begin to provide benefits to NARA’s customers and obtain return on investment.
The National Archives Experience
As you are aware, Mr. Chairman, the National Archives Experience is our label for a multiyear initiative that will more than triple the size of the exhibition spaces and public educational and programming facilities at the National Archives Building here in Washington. The Congress shared both the vision and the funding for the renovation and building upgrades that made this project possible.
Three key components of the National Archives Experience have been completed in the last year. All of these have been made possible by a public-private partnership between the National Archives and the Foundation for the National Archives, which has to date raised over $18 million from citizens, foundations, and corporations committed to the advance of civics education and public enrichment through the public records.
The William G. McGowan Theater, which opened in September, has already surpassed our expectations. More than half our visitors now begin their visits with a screening of the first of our new signature films, “Preserving the Charters of Freedom,” produced by WGBH/Nova, establishing a context for a visit to the Rotunda. The second signature film, “Democracy Starts Here,” produced by Discovery Communications and premiering next month, will draw the connection between the Charters and the ongoing work of the National Archives. In addition to its status as the launch pad for daily visits, the McGowan Theater has become an important center for the presentation of documentary films (films from our holdings of more than 300,000 reels and tapes as well as contemporary documentaries that make use of our records). Our continuing author/lecture and symposium programs featuring speakers like Cokie Roberts, William Webster, and just last week, three Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have often filled our 294-seat space to capacity.
The Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery made its debut in December. The new space not only allows us to continue the tradition of hosting great exhibits of photography and graphics, like the “The American Presidency: Photographic Treasures of the National Archives” displayed last winter, but also for the first time three-dimensional, multimedia exhibits, such as the upcoming “Americans in Paris” exhibit presented in conjunction with the city-wide “Paris on the Potomac” celebration.
The most innovative new component of the National Archives Experience is the "Public Vaults," a 9,000-square-foot permanent, interactive exhibit.
Nearly a million people have come to the National Archives every year to see the founding documents of American democracy—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. However, few have realized that behind the wall where the Charters of Freedom are displayed are billions of records that trace the story of our nation and the American people. The Public Vaults exhibition has now given visitors the sensation of walking past that wall and into the Archives' behind-the-scenes vaults and stacks. Visitors are able to listen to the deliberations of Presidents as they faced some of the country’s greatest challenges, review documents that played a part in historic Congressional debates and “vote” from their House or Senate desk, explore newly declassified top-secret documents, step into the boots of ordinary soldiers on the front lines, follow the original investigation into the sinking of the Titanic, read a teenager’s plea to keep Elvis out of the Army, read a letter from a young Fidel Castro to President Franklin Roosevelt, and experience many other of the extraordinary events of our history.
I want to invite you and the subcommittee members to come and experience this extraordinary exhibit for yourselves and to report on the explosion in visitorship that we are already experiencing in the first four months of operations.
In December we were ahead of the previous year by 66 percent, January exceeded the previous year by 85 percent, and February topped last February by 33 percent. March was limited to 18-percent growth, but this was a function of supply rather than demand, as the line in front of the building stretched for two to three blocks on most days in the last half of the month and we were obliged to turn away visitors even after extending our open hours by 45 minutes.
Now in all candor, a certain character named Benjamin Franklin Gates, played by Nicholas Cage in the successful Disney film National Treasure, might have had more than a little to do with America beating a path to our door the last six months. But the vision to renovate the treasure which is the National Archives Building, the expertise to conserve and present the Charters of Freedom in new state-of-the-art encasements, and the ingenuity to mount one of the best exhibits that you will experience anywhere has ensured that they are enjoying the experience thoroughly.
This is not just my opinion. It also reflects the results of a survey conducted by the market research firm of WB&A, interviewing a sample of 1,136 visitors in late January and February. 96 percent of all respondents in the survey stated that they were very satisfied or extremely satisfied with their visits, with nearly 60 percent giving us the highest possible rating. 47 percent of all visitors reported spending an hour or more visiting the National Archives in comparison to just 13 percent reporting visits of that length in a similar study in the 1990s. The survey also showed a positive correlation between the length of visit and the level of satisfaction. The survey provided clear evidence that the National Archives Experience has not only increased demand for service, but positive outcomes in terms of visitor engagement and understanding of NARA’s mission.
It is my personal goal to work with the Foundation to take this success and build on it nationally: to provide access to the National Archives Experience through the Internet, inventing new tools to serve the needs of teachers and students, parents and citizens; to expand our exhibit programs to other NARA sites and through traveling exhibits to cities across the country; and to join with partners, both public and private, in unleashing the power of primary sources to advance the cause of history and civics education.
In this connection, I want to assure the subcommittee that NARA recognizes its solemn commitment to the American people to create, expand, extend, and—where necessary—redesign educational and public programming throughout its orbit, including the extension of the reach of the National Archives Experience through webcasting. This can be done through pursuing a greater number and variety of public and educational programs—linked to school curricula where possible—and involving in implementation not only Washington, DC's educational resources but those of every NARA regional records center and archives center along with the extraordinary resources of the Presidential library system, in partnership where possible also with state and local archivists. There will be a role for virtually every NARA employee in this expansion of our educational and public programming which we envision in the years ahead.\
As I stated in my investiture remarks on March 7, I have long supported Presidential libraries and very much look forward to the Nixon Library being a part of the NARA system. We have recently held several productive conversations with the Nixon Foundation on the status of the library, and as a result of this dialogue, great progress has been achieved, including exchange of letters outlining the general terms of agreement for the transfer of the library. Specifically:
• NARA and the Foundation have agreed that the transfer of the library could take place as early as February 2006, under the terms of the Presidential Libraries Act, provided that a required retrofit (necessary to house NARA staff) is completed by that timeframe and that funding is available to offset the cost of this initial move as well as Library operations and maintenance costs. We expect to hear shortly from the Foundation on the planned completion date of the retrofit.
• The Nixon Library is solely responsible for securing the funding to build additional space that will be necessary to store the archival materials.
• Once NARA assumes control of the Nixon Library, the Nixon presidential materials will be transferred from the NARA facility in College Park to the NARA facility in Yorba Linda, staffed and operated by NARA. The complete transfer of these materials will take approximately 4–5 years. During that time, NARA will continue to review Nixon tapes in College Park.
• The Nixon Library will be operated in accordance with National Archives statutes, regulations, and practices governing the Nixon materials and Presidential libraries.
• The letter of offer and joint use and transfer agreement for the establishment of a NARA-operated Nixon Presidential library will contain agreements on the following:
1. Arrangements for the donation of the majority of Nixon pre- and post-Presidential materials at the library;
2. Arrangements for the donation of the personal-political materials currently in NARA’s custody, including the personal-political conversations from the Nixon recordings;
3. Space, revenue, and building use requirements.
• NARA will continue consultations with interested historians, archivists, and other interested stakeholders as this process moves forward.
• The Nixon Library will redesign parts of the Nixon Library exhibit to bring it into conformity with NARA guidelines. The library will consult with the National Archives on the content.
• The Archivist stated the importance of the Nixon Library developing details for a multi-perspective conference on Vietnam as replacement for the one that was recently cancelled, along with other multi-perspective program events.
While we are some distance from completion of these important tasks, the plan is adequate and our resolve is strong to follow through with our requirements as stated above.
Mr. Chairman, during my confirmation process last year the National Archives spent more time than it would have preferred in the headlines regarding several high-profile incidents of theft of documents from the agency. Upon taking up the duties of Archivist, these incidents have been of considerable concern to me. Security and preservation of the documents is the first task of any archivist and is certainly the first concern of this Archivist. In remarks at my swearing in on March 7, I stated in part:
One other urgent concern comes to mind as I reflect upon my travels to NARA facilities across the country, that of providing effective—but not excessive—post-9/11 security for all of NARA's documents, materials, and staff, whether in Washington, DC, or elsewhere in the country. I will be launching an early and thorough review of security issues, including the protection of NARA's documents and materials from loss, theft, and mishandling.
To that end I have several positive things to report to you today. First, in the case of Sandy Berger, the former National Security Adviser, I am pleased that the situation is resolved and believe that Mr. Berger's actions, as outlined in the plea agreement, speak for themselves. Let me state for the record that all five documents that Mr. Berger has admitted to illegally removing for the National Archives were copies, and NARA retains the official Presidential record copy of each one.
Second, our Inspector General is conducting a thorough investigation into the policies and actions of NARA staff regarding this matter, and his investigation should be completed in the near future.
Finally, in the spirit of continuous improvement, NARA actions in the past year include
• Opened a classified research room at the National Archives Building equipped with state-of-the-art digital cameras and recording equipment.
• Added or are in the process of adding closed circuit video cameras to all regional archives and Presidential library research rooms. Research rooms in the Washington, DC, area and some regions have had cameras since 1994.
• Established a pilot project for 2005 with the University of MD to test RFID (radio frequency identification) tags on valuable and vulnerable documents and artifacts.
• Nearing completion of a study on marking documents with intrinsic value with a National Archives stamp.
• Nearing completion of a comprehensive update to all collections security policies, including new guidelines for inventorying artifact collections and for handling incoming loans of documents and artifacts to prevent loss or damage in handling or shipment.
• Negotiating an agreement with the National Coalition for History for a pilot project to survey manuscript dealers’ catalogs and web sites in order to identify records alienated from Federal, state, and local archives.
• Volunteers working with original records and artifacts must now undergo name, background, and credit checks.
• Collaborated with experts in the field to design holdings security awareness training. The class was conducted on September 13 and 14, 2004, as part of our annual collections security training for staff and managers.
• Issued numbered policy memorandums to staff providing guidance on staff access to specially protected records and on proper documentation of removal of records from stack areas.
• Developed a new web site to help recover lost and stolen documents, increase awareness of possible thefts, and discourage sales on online auctions. The site is at www.archives.gov/about/recover/.
• Consulted with eBay representative to seek assistance.
• In March 2004, NARA and its Inspector General began a joint project to monitor selected auction sites, manuscript dealer catalogs, and Internet sales of documents to deter mine if any were Federal records that had been alienated from NARA. To date, approximately 500 documents have been referred and analyzed. Although the vast majority are not Federal records, we have recovered a small number of documents that were or should have been in our holdings.
• NARA regional archives and Presidential libraries placed high-value records in document security safes.
• NARA Office of Records Services staff in research rooms now have revised performance plans that make security monitoring a specific performance evaluation element. This emphasizes the importance of security and makes it a critical element of the staff member’s job. All affected staff has been briefed on this change.
• Uniformed security officers now patrol the research rooms in Archives I and Archives II as part of their regular rounds. This was made part of the officer’s post orders in 2004.
• The new Pension and Military Service Research Room at the National Archives Building has revised security measures in place, including a seating arrangement that restricts researchers to positions in view of the video surveillance camera and revised post orders for the security guard to be in the room whenever there is only one NARA staff member on duty.
Mr. Chairman, as I close and prepare for your questions, I want to assure you that NARA will remain absolutely nonpolitical and professional in its work under my stewardship. I also want to reiterate what I stated at my Senate confirmation hearing. As Archivist, I will enforce the laws regarding access to public records at all times and instances to the very best of my ability. Where problems occur, it will be my intention to pursue solutions (through dialogue and persuasion if possible) at the earliest possible moment. As the vision statement on NARA's strategic plan states:
The National Archives is a public trust on which our democracy depends. We enable people to inspect for themselves the record of what government has done. We enable officials and agencies to review their actions and help citizens hold them accountable. We ensure continuing access to essential evidence that documents the rights of American citizens, the actions of Federal (and other) officials, and the national experience.
Let me conclude on a personal note. My job description is transparent. The Archivist of the United States works for the American people, indifferent to partisanship regardless of which political party dominates the Congress or the Executive branch of Government. Therefore, the Archivist must display at all times a devotion to the laws and principles governing the responsibilities of his office. At all times, he serves as the designated custodian of America's essential "records that defy the tooth of time."
Finally, a passion for working on archives or records management is obviously essential to performing NARA's mission successfully. I know that most NARA employees share that passion. The wellsprings of motivation in each of us are personal and complex, ranging from core values (and core documents) to traditions, moral and religious beliefs, and a concrete work ethic. But we at the National Archives and Records Administration have as our template not only the three great charters but the entire American governmental documentary heritage (literally) at our fingertips—and that remains an awesome privilege.
Thank you for your attention, and I would be happy to take your questions at this time.