National Archives & Records Administration FY ’09 Budget

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will receive its highest level of funding in recent years under the fiscal year (FY) 2009 omnibus spending package (HR 1105), that was enacted into law this week. NARA’s budget would jump 12 percent from the current $411 million to $459 million.

Here is a breakdown of NARA’s funding. Please note below that for comparison purposes, the FY ’08 budget number will be included in parentheses after this year’s amount followed by the increase or decrease from FY ’08 to FY ’09.

Operating Expenses
$330.3 million ($315 million) +$15.3 million

The fiscal year 2008 Appropriations Act included funding for an increase in archivist staff, and these additional staff will continue to be funded in fiscal year 2009 within this appropriation. In addition, this bill includes $875,000 to provide a further increase in the number of archivist staff, in order to continue to reverse the staffing reductions that had occurred between fiscal year 2002 and fiscal year 2007.

NARA is directed to report to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, within 30 days of enactment of the bill, as to the specific steps it is taking to continue to restore NARA’s archivist workforce to pre-2002 levels.

Also included in the amount is $1,000,000 for NARA’s new Office of Government Information Services (OGIS). The OGIS will serve as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) ombudsman for the federal government. The Administration had proposed, in its fiscal year 2009 budget request, to fund this office at the Department of Justice. This bill funds the office at NARA, as authorized by the OPEN Government Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-175).

The bill includes $650,000, available until September 30, 2010, to be used to complete the review of U.S. Government documents pertaining to the activities of the Nazis and the Japanese Imperial Government. These documents are being declassified pursuant to the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-246) and the Japanese Imperial Government Disclosure Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-567). These laws directed that Government agencies ensure the declassification of files pertaining to the activities of the Nazis and the Japanese Imperial Government.

In 2007, following the declassification and review of thousands of files containing newly-disclosed information about the Nazis and the Japanese Imperial Government, NARA issued a report summarizing the new historical insights gained as a result of the NARA-supervised review of these documents. However, a number of additional U.S. Army and CIA/OSS documents were discovered too late in the process to be included in NARA’s 2007 report. This funding is to be used to report separately on these remaining documents. NARA is directed to report to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, within 90 days of enactment of this Act, with a proposed schedule for completing the review and historical analysis of these documents and releasing a supplemental report, to serve as a companion to NARA’s 2007 report.

Congress also provided $6,325,000 to operate the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas. It is now temporarily located in a facility in Lewisville, TX until the permanent library is built with private funds on the campus of Southern Methodist University.

Electronic Records Archives (ERA) project–$67 million ($58 million) +$9 million

The bill retains the directive requiring NARA to submit, and for the Committees on Appropriations to approve, a GAO-reviewed spending plan for ERA prior to the obligation of funds.

Although they recognized some improvement in the ERA project, the Appropriations Committees expressed their continuing concerns about the program, NARA’s oversight of the program, and the reliability of the work of the ERA contractor, especially given the previous cost overrun, widespread replacement of contractor staff, and nine month delay in achievement of Initial Operating Capability. In order to overcome the schedule delays that occurred in 2007 and 2008, and to prepare NARA to receive the electronic records of the outgoing Administration in time for the January 20, 2009 change in Administrations, NARA and the contractor have had to develop a two-pronged development strategy, focusing on building a base ERA system, plus a second system devoted to receiving the Executive Office of the President electronic records of the outgoing Administration.

NARA is directed to provide quarterly ERA progress reports, beginning no later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, to both GAO and to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, and to immediately report to the Committees and to GAO any potential delays, cost overruns, or other problems associated with ERA development. ·As recommended by GAO, the quarterly progress reports should include summary measures of project performance against ERA cost and schedule estimates.

Repairs and Restoration
$50.7 million ($28.6 million) + $22.1 million

The bill provides $50,711,000 for repairs and restoration. This amount includes: (1) $17,500,000 for necessary expenses related to the repair and renovation of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, NY, which NARA has listed as its top capital improvement priority; (2) $22,000,000 to complete construction of an addition to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, MA; and (3) $2,000,000 to complete the repair and restoration of the plaza that surrounds the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, TX.

The Appropriations Committees made clear they felt they had adequately provided funding for NARA’s portion of the LBJ Presidential Library plaza project; therefore, the Library and the university were “put on notice” not to return to the Committees for any further funding for the project.

The bill includes an administrative provision directing NARA to include in its annual budget submission each year a comprehensive capital needs assessment for its entire infrastructure of presidential libraries and records facilities. Funding should be included in each year’s budget to address the highest priorities, including projects already underway.