House Appropriations Panel Gives NARA $23.6 million Increase for FY ’09

On June 25, 2008, the House Appropriations Committee cleared the Financial Services and General Government fiscal year 2009 appropriations bill that includes funding for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NARA received $423.8 million, a significant $23.6 million increase over the FY ’08 enacted amount of $400.2 million and $31.7 million more than the President’s request for FY ’09.

Note: amount in parentheses = FY ’08 amount

· Total budget–$423.8 million ($400.2 million)
· Operating Expenses—$330 million ($315 million)
· Electronic Records Archives project–$67 million ($58 million)
· Repairs and Restoration–$26.7 million ($28 million)

The total fiscal year (FY) 2009 budget provides $423.8 million for the National Archives and Records Administration. This amount is $31.7 million more than the president’s request and $23.6 million more than the $400.2 million NARA received in FY 2008.

The National Archives would receive $330 million for operating expenses, $2.2 million over the president’s request of $327.8, and a $15 million increase from $315 million in FY 2008.

This $2.2 million over the president’s request amount includes $567,000 to hire additional archival staff and $1 million for the creation of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) at NARA.

In report language accopmanying the bill, the Appropriations Committee made a clear statement about retaining the research room hours that it included funding for last year. The report states, “It is the Committee’s understanding that the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2009 will allow for the continuation of the restored research hours and added archivists funded by the fiscal year 2008 Appropriations Act.”

Late last year, President Bush signed into law the “Open Government Act of 2007” (Public Law 110-175). The law requires the establishment of an Office of Government Information Services within NARA. Within that office a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) ombudsman is to be appointed to review agency policies and procedures, audit agency performance, recommend policy changes, and mediate disputes between FOIA requestors and agencies.

Unfortunately, when President Bush sent his proposed FY ’09 budget to Congress, no funding was included for the establishment of the OGIS at NARA. Instead, the President proposed language to move OGIS to the Department of Justice, and to repeal the language in the Open the Government Act placing OGIS at the National Archives. The Appropriations Committee rejected the president’s proposal and establishes the OGIS office within NARA.

The bill also provides $650,000 to complete the review of U.S. Government documents pertaining to the activities of the Nazis and the Japanese Imperial Government.

The Electronic Records Archives project would see its budget increase from the current $58 million to $67 million in FY 2009. This reflects the amount requested by the president.

The Repairs and Restoration budget line would be cut to $26.7 million, down from $28.6 million last year. The budget includes $9.2 million for repairs and restoration, the same amount requested by the administration. However, $17.5 million in additional earmarked funds would go towards repairs and renovation at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library. NARA’s capital improvement plan had identified the FDR Library as its highest priority capital improvement need.