On September 13, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced that due to budget cuts the Georgia State Archives would be closing on November 1. After that date, the public will only be allowed to access the building by appointment; however, the number of appointments could be limited based on the schedule of the remaining employees. Georgia will become the only state without a fully accessible state archives.
Kemp, whose office oversees the archives, said an order by Governor Nathan Deal to reduce state agency budgets by an additional 3 percent necessitated his action. The edict forced Kemp to come up with an additional $733,000 cut in his agency’s budget. Kemp refused to speculate how many of the agency’s employees would be laid off.
Kemp said he would seek to restore funding for the archives when the Georgia state legislature convenes in January. “I will fight during this legislative session to have this cut restored so the people will have a place to meet, research, and review the historical records of Georgia.”
The National Coalition for History will be working with historians, archivists and other affected stakeholders to have the decision reversed.
Official statement from the Georgia Secretary of State:
“The Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget has instructed the Office of the Secretary of State to further reduce its budget for AFY13 and FY14 by 3% ($732,626). As it has been for the past two years, these cuts do not eliminate excess in the agency, but require the agency to further reduce services to the citizens of Georgia. As an agency that returns over three times what is appropriated back to the general fund, budget cuts present very challenging decisions. We have tried to protect the services that the agency provides in support of putting people to work, starting small businesses, and providing public safety.
To meet the required cuts, it is with great remorse that I have to announce, effective November 1, 2012, the Georgia State Archives located in Morrow, GA will be closed to the public. The decision to reduce public access to the historical records of this state was not arrived at without great consternation. To my knowledge, Georgia will be the only state in the country that will not have a central location in which the public can visit to research and review the historical records of their government and state. The staff that currently works to catalog, restore, and provide reference to the state of Georgia’s permanent historical records will be reduced. The employees that will be let go through this process are assets to the state of Georgia and will be missed. After November 1st, the public will only be allowed to access the building by appointment; however, the number of appointments could be limited based on the schedule of the remaining employees.
Since FY08, the Office of the Secretary of State has been required to absorb many budget reductions, often above the minimum, while being responsible for more work. I believe that transparency and open access to records are necessary for the public to educate themselves on the issues of our government. I will fight during this legislative session to have this cut restored so the people will have a place to meet, research, and review the historical records of Georgia.”