Park Service Announces Initial Centennial Projects

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne recently announced that the National Park Service (NPS) has certified 201 proposals as eligible for consideration for Centennial Challenge federal matching funds in fiscal year 2008. The proposals would be undertaken in national parks as part of the National Park Centennial Initiative 2016. The proposals represent 116 parks and their private sector partners in 40 states and the District of Columbia.

National Park Service Names New Chief Historian

On August 30, the National Park Service (NPS) announced the long-awaited selection of Dr. Robert K. Sutton as Chief Historian of the National Park Service. Dr. Sutton has been Superintendent of the Manassas National Battlefield Park since 1995. Dr. Sutton will begin his new position on October 1, 2007. The Chief Historian position has remained vacant for over two years since the retirement of Dr. Dwight Pitcaithley in June 2005.

National Archives Announces Copying Fee Increases

In a final rule published in the Federal Register August 17, 2007, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced across-the-board fee increases for reproduction of archival materials in its facilities nationwide. In addition to Federal records, this includes donated historical materials, Presidential records, and records filed with the Office of the Federal Register. This rule will become effective on October 1, 2007.

DHS Seeks to Replace Chief Historian

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has posted a job vacancy announcement seeking to fill the position of Historian in the Office of the Secretary for Homeland Security. The deadline for applying for the position is August 21, 2007.

Dr. Priscilla Jones was appointed as the first Historian of the Department of Homeland Security in February 2004. She left her position in early August 2007 to return to the Air Force History Office where she worked for ten years before joining DHS.

Smithsonian Official Resigns After Destroying Key Records

In a story broken this week by the Washington Post, it was revealed that a senior Smithsonian Institution official has resigned amid allegations that he destroyed minutes from a Smithsonian Board of Regents meeting in January at which former-Secretary Lawrence M. Small’s compensation and expenses were scrutinized. James M. Hobbins, executive assistant to the secretary of the Smithsonian, allegedly destroyed transcripts of the meeting despite orders from the Smithsonian’s general counsel that such documents be retained at the request of Congress.

Senate Passes Freedom of Information Act Reform Bill

On August 3, 2007, the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent passed the “OPEN Government Act of 2007” (S. 849), a bill mandating major reforms in the operation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Similar legislation (H.R. 1309) overwhelmingly passed the House earlier this year by a vote of 308-117. It is unclear at this time whether a conference committee will be needed to iron out any differences between the two bills or whether the House will simply adopt the Senate bill as passed.

NEH Announces $26 Million in New Grants

On August 8, 2007, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded more than $26 million in total grants and offers of matching funds for 159 diverse projects in the humanities. Included in these awards are funding for 26 applicants to host the We the People 2008 Landmarks of American History and Culture workshops. Among the Landmarks workshops, 20 have been developed for K-12 teachers and an additional six have been designed for community college faculty.

Archives Requests Feedback on Presidential Library Museums

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has issued a request for public comment in the Federal Register on the proposed use of a voluntary survey of museum visitors at each Presidential library. The survey includes questions that measure the visitor’s satisfaction in general and with specific aspects of their visit. The information will provide feedback about visitors’ experiences at the libraries, and allow NARA to enhance their public programs based on the responses. Written comments on the proposed information collection must be received on or before October 9, 2007.

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Meeting

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) will meet on Friday, August 17, 2007. The meeting is open to the public and will be held in Room MR-1 at the Vicksburg, MS Convention Center at 9:00 a.m. Topics on the agenda include Preserve America/Save America’s Treasures authorizing legislation, the National Park Service’s (NPS) Centennial Challenge, and Battlefield Landscape Restoration Initiative. Additional information is available from the ACHP at 202-606-8503.