NARA Establishes “Controlled Unclassified Information Office”

On May 22, Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein announced the establishment of the “Controlled Unclassified Information Office” (CUIO) within the National Archives and Records Administration. Weinstein also announced that William J. Bosanko, director of the Information Security Oversight Office, will head up this newly formed office. The Office is being created in response to the Memorandum for the Heads of Departments and Agencies on the Designation and Sharing of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) issued by President Bush on May 9, 2008.

Six New NEH Council Members Assume Their Posts

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced this week that six new members have joined the National Council on the Humanities, the Endowment’s 26-member advisory council. The new members were nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate earlier this year. The National Council on the Humanities convened this week for its quarterly meeting to review grant applications and to advise the NEH Chairman Bruce Cole.

Senate Panel Holds National Archives Oversight Hearing

On May 14, 2008, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services and International Security held an oversight hearing on the programs of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). Dr. Martin J. Sherwin, University Professor of History at George Mason University, and winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, represented the National Coalition for History at the hearing.

Bill to “Preserve America’s Historical Record” Introduced

On May 14, 2008, the “Preserving the American Historical Record Act (PAHR)” (H.R. 6056) was introduced by Congressmen Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Chris Cannon (R-UT). The PAHR legislation would establish a new federal program of formula grants to the states and territories to support archives and historical records at the state and local level. This week’s introduction of the PAHR bill marks the culmination of years of effort by the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) , the Society of American Archivists (SAA), and the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administration (NAGARA).

White House Issues New Classified Information Policy

The White House recently released a new policy attempting to standardize procedures for the treatment of what is referred to as “Sensitive But Unclassified” (SBU) information. The memorandum issued by the president adopts, defines and institutes “Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)” as the new standard for the treatment of such information. There are currently over 100 different markings for sensitive information that has led to over-classification. The new CUI policy would reduce that to three categories.

GAO Evaluates Smithsonian Reforms

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) this week issued a report evaluating the reforms instituted by the Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents in response to the series of well-publicized scandals that rocked the organization over the past few years. In general, the GAO felt the Regents had successfully implemented some reforms, but still needed to develop policies and internal controls for issues such as travel, event expenses and contracting.

Smithsonian Says “Hooray for Hollywood”

The Smithsonian Institution this week announced an agreement with 20th Century Fox to allow the use of its name and facilities for the filming of “Night at the Museum II: Escape from the Smithsonian.” The movie is the sequel to the 2006 film “Night at the Museum” starring Ben Stiller that earned over $250 million at the box office in the U.S., and over $500 million worldwide. This is the first time in its 162-year history that the Smithsonian Institution has allowed its name to be used in the title of a movie produced for theatrical distribution.