House Panel Holds Hearing on Preservation of Electronic Federal Records

On April 23, 2008, the National Coalition for History (NCH) presented testimony to the House Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census and the National Archives on the “Electronic Communications Preservation Act” (H.R. 5811). The legislation addresses both the Federal Records Act and the Presidential Records Act. The bill would direct the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to establish standards for the capture, management, and preservation of White House e-mails and other electronic communications. The legislation would also require NARA to issue regulations requiring federal agencies to preserve electronic communications in an electronic format.

NARA Clarifies Decision Not to “Harvest” Federal Agency Websites

On March 27, 2008, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issued a memorandum, stating that it would not conduct a “harvest” of federal agency websites as they exist at the end of President Bush’s term as they did in 2001 and 2005. In response to concerns expressed by stakeholders, last week the National Archives issued further clarification stating “each agency is now responsible, in coordination with NARA, for determining how to manage its web records, including whether to preserve a periodic snapshot of its entire web page.”

NARA & CIA Reach Agreement on Release of Federal Records

On April 17, 2008, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) describing the procedures and conditions that govern the treatment of CIA records once they are transferred to NARA’s legal custody. This agreement sets the stage for the transfer of the CIA’s permanent Federal records that are 50 years or older to the National Archives.

NPS Awards Initial Centennial Intiative Grants

On April 24, 2008, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne unveiled the first round of 110 national park improvement projects and programs funded by an equal combination of public and private funds, under President Bush’s National Park Centennial Initiative. The Initiative, announced in 2006, proposed a federal Centennial Challenge matching fund that would be used to match philanthropic contributions for the benefit of national parks between now and the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS) in 2016.

“Orphan Works” Legislation Introduced in the House and Senate

On April 24, 2008, leading members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation (H.R. 5889, S. 2913) to preserve so-called “orphan works” – works that may be protected by copyright, but whose owners cannot be found. Potential users of orphan works often fail to display or use such works out of concern that they may be found liable for statutory damages, amounting to as much as $150,000.