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Spring 1988

Following is the quarterly compilation of news from the

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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.IN

"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

years.

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.

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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

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records are extremely complicated and open to speculation."

He

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.

The suit

was brought by, among others, Public Citizen, a public interest

group founded by Ralph Nader.

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