The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report critical of the Smithsonian Institution’s maintenance and security practices. The GAO specifically cited the Smithsonian Board of Regents for not responding to recommendations in a 2005 GAO report that urging a more aggressive approach to raising funds from the private sector and less reliance on scarce federal dollars.
Former President Bill Clinton recently jumped into the political debate surrounding the disposition of presidential records. A story in the October 4, 2007, New York Sun reported that President Clinton recently asserted that the Bush administration was at fault for delaying the release of his records.
On October 2, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) called for an end to the hold that has been blocking Senate consideration of “The Presidential Records Act Amendment of 2007 (H.R. 1255).”
On October 1, a federal district court judge gave historians and researchers a partial, but significant victory in a lawsuit questioning the legality of President George W. Bush’s Executive Order (EO) 13233, which broadened the rights of presidents and former-presidents to withhold federal records from the public. The judge struck down the section of the EO that allows a former president to indefinitely delay the release of records.
On September 24, Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) objected to floor consideration of the “Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007” (H.R. 1255), at least temporarily holding up a vote on the bill. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) sought to have the bill brought up under the Senate’s unanimous consent rule that allows non-controversial bills to be considered on an expedited basis. When she did so, Senator Bunning objected to consideration of the bill.
On October 1, Executive Director Max J. Evans announced that he will be retiring from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) on January 31, 2008. Mr. Evans, who was appointed in January 2003, will be assuming a new position with the Latter Day Saints Church Historical Department in Salt Lake City, Utah. No timetable was given for the naming of a replacement.