On June 11, the House Appropriations Committee approved the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill (no number as yet).
The bill includes $315 million ($2.1 million above the President’s request, and $35.7 million above fiscal year 2007) for operating expenses of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The $2.1 million in additional funding is designed to ensure evening and weekend hours for public research at the Archives every week (rather than only one week a month, as has been the case since last October), as well as an increase in the number of archivists to help process public requests for access to historic documents (the archivist workforce has been cut back over the last couple of years). Funding is also included for additional space to house an increase in archival documents.
Individuals and organizations that support continued and increased funding for the National Archives should contact their Senators now, especially if they are a member of the Senate Financial Services and General Government appropriations subcommittee.
To contact your Senators about funding for the National Archives go to the Humanities Advocacy Network.
At no cost to you, the website allows you to either FAX or e-mail a pre-written electronic letter to your Senators or to edit that letter to express your own personal views. We encourage you to choose the FAX the letter since the bill may be considered in the subcommittee at any time.
Phone calls to your Senator’s offices are also effective, particularly if you ask for the person who handles appropriations issues. All Members of Congress can be reached through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.
As the amount of records generated by the federal government has increased exponentially, the National Archives budget has remained stagnant for many years. Additional costs for staffing, infrastructure maintenance, and the impending addition of the Nixon and George W. Bush presidential libraries to the Archives’ responsibilities, have placed even more stress on NARA’s already lean budget.
In October 2006, because of budget shortfalls, the Archives was forced to cut back on the hours that its facilities are available to researchers. In addition, the Archives enacted a hiring freeze. This is at a time that the Archives has a backlog of some 400-500 million pages of records that need to be processed.
Recognizing these needs, the Bush administration proposed an increase of $33.5 million in operating expenses for the Archives in fiscal year 2008. Recently, the House Appropriations Committee added an additional $2.1 million to the president’s request specifically designated to restore the research room hours that were cut back, and to add more staff.
We urge you to contact the Senate Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, and ask them to follow the lead of the House Appropriations Committee and provide $315 million in funding for the National Archives.