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Following is the quarterly compilation of news from the
NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Archivist Gives State of the Archives Address
Dr. Wilson presented his "State of the Archives" address to
overflow audiences at the Archives Building and the Washington
National Records Center in Suitland, MD, on Thursday, March 31.
Dr. Wilson said his most pleasant surprise as Archivist "was
to discover the extent of quality and dedication throughout the
NARA staff at every level."
He also said that he was shocked by
the working conditions and space problems of this agency, both
here in Washington and in many of the regions around the country
For this reason, I plan to concentrate on the successful
completion of a new building, which is informally known as
"Archives II" will be the top priority in a ten point plan
which he outlined in his address.
The other points are:
continuing to work on computerization and developing policies for
machine-readable records; continuing to emphasize access to records; ensuring that the Archives remains the repository for
all Federal records of enduring value; emphasizing and improving
preservation efforts; expanding outreach efforts; encouraging greater creativity in utilization of our field units; offering
training and other opportunities for career development among
staff members; seeking a balance between research use and
protection of records; and assuming a leadership role in
formulating a national collection policy.
Videotapes of Dr. Wilson's address was shown to Field Branch, Records Center, and Presidential Library staff.
Archivist Testifies at House Hearing
Dr. Don W. Wilson made his first appearance before the House
Government Operations Subcommittee on Government Information,
Justice, and Agriculture on February 17.
The hearing was chaired
by Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Glenn English (D-OK) and attended
by Committee Chairman Jack Brooks (D-TX), Rep. Barney Frank (D
MA), Rep. Bill Grant (D-FL), Rep. Al McCandless (R-CA), and Rep.
Louise Slaughter (D-NY).
The new Archivist testified first on the reauthorization of
the National Historical Publications and Records Commission
(NHPRC) on a level of $10 million annually for the next five
Following a discussion of the possibilities of expanding
private funding for publication and records projects, Dr. Wilson
was questioned about the role of the National Archives in
implementing the Presidential Records Act and the steps taken to
carry out the recommendation of the Iran-Contra Committee that
the Archivist be consulted to ensure compliance with the Act.
Dr. Wilson said he could not comment directly on matters
relating to Iran-Contra since it is still under investigation.
He did say that implementation of the Presidential Records Act
has, in the judgment of the National Archives, been "very
effective" and that "we believe the Reagan Administration will be
records are extremely complicated and open to speculation."
pointed out that, while the National Archives is doing extensive
research on this problem, "we may need additional resources to
work with agencies to ensure that they fully understand the
applicability of the Federal Records Act to such records and to
ensure their proper management throughout their life cycle,
including their authorized disposition."
House Passes NHPRC Reauthorization
On March 30, the House of Representatives passed a five-year
reauthorization of the National Historical Publications and
Records Commission (NHPRC) by 363 votes.
The bill authorizes spending at levels of $5 million for 1989 and 1990; $8 million
for 1991 and 1992; and $10 million for 1993.
The bill also calls for an expansion of the current
membership of the Commission to include one representative each
from the Association for Documentary Editing and the National
Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators and
a reduction from two to one representatives from the American
Historical Association, the Society of American Archivists, the
American Association for State and Local History and the
Organization of American Historians.
Nixon Papers Decision Handed Down by Court of Appeals
On April 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia Circuit upheld the U.S. District Court's decision that
former President Richard M. Nixon may not automatically block the disclosure of his Presidential materials by claiming they are
protected by executive privilege.
The Court found that Congress intended for the Archivist to
make administrative determinations with respect to claims of
executive privilege raised by former President Nixon under the
Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act of 1974.
For this reason, it overruled a Department of Justice
interpretation that required the Archivist to honor all claims of
executive privilege asserted by the former President.
was brought by, among others, Public Citizen, a public interest
group founded by Ralph Nader.