Before Congress left for its annual August recess, action on the long-stalled fiscal year 2011 budget bills began apace. A number of bills of interest to the historical and archival communities saw action in the final week before the recess.
On July 29, the Senate Appropriations Committee cleared the FY 2011 Financial Service and General Government (FS&GG) Appropriations bill that includes funding for the National Archives (NARA) and National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
On the same day, the House Financial Service and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee cleared its version of the bill.
Senate FS&GG FY 11Appropriations Bill
National Archives and Records Adminsitration
NARA would receive $432.8 million in FY 2011, $24.1 million less than the FY 2010 appropriation of $456.9 million, and $13.5 million less than the President’s request for FY 11. This is approximately a 5.4% cut.
The NHPRC funding level is $10 million. That is $3 million less than last year, but the same as the Administration requested for the program. Last year’s budget included a one-time directed spending allocation of $4.5 million for a project to put the papers of the Founding Fathers on-line. So the actual amount that was available for the NHPRC’s core programs was $9.25 million. As with last year, the administrative costs for NHPRC are now factored into NARA’s operating expenses budget so the full $10 million goes to grants.
- Operating Expenses
Operating Expenses funding increased by $8.9 million, the same as the President’s request. The increase goes to fund and equip the new National Declassification Center, the Holdings Protection program, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) and to “expand the archival staff to build a cadre of new technology savvy archivists.” OGIS is the new FOIA ombudsman office and the committee directed that it receive $3 million of the increase.
- Electronic Records Archive (ERA)
The Electronic Records Archive was cut $13.5 million from last year’s budget—and the President’s request—of $85.5 million. While the Appropriations Committee clearly stated its support for ERA, it felt that “that NARA’s expenditure plan submissions have not clearly identified the specific functions to be delivered through specific spending. This has hampered the Committee’s ability to assess the extent of progress on ERA that should be expected as a result of the spending. In its review of NARA’s fiscal year 2010 expenditure plan for ERA, GAO noted that NARA had not detailed what capabilities will be delivered by the final two ERA phases, or increments.”
- Repairs and Restoration
This account sustained a $15.6 million cut, from $27.5 million last year down to a level of $11.8 million. However, this reduction reflects the completion of a major repair project at the FDR Presidential Library that was funded during fiscal year 2010. The $11.8 million includes $6.8 million for base requirements and $5 million for the top priority project in the Capitol Improvements Plan, the National Archives Experience Phase II.
House FS&GG FY 2011 Appropriations Bill
NARA’s funding bill in the House has only cleared the subcommittee level in the Appropriations Committee. The program funding levels within agencies are embargoed until after the FS&GG FY 11 bill is passed by the full House Appropriations Committee. So no breakdown is available to the level detailed in the Senate Appropriations FS&GG bill. Markup of the bill by the House Appropriations will not occur until after the August congressional recess.
NARA’s FY 11 budget would be cut by $30.6 million from the FY 10 level of $456.9 million, down to $426.3 million. That amount is $20 million less than the President’s FY 11 budget request and is approximately a 6.7% cut.
2. Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies FY 2011 Appropriations Bill
On July 22, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee marked up the FY 2011 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies spending bill. As noted above with NARA, line-item detail for the agencies covered by this bill will not be available until the full House Appropriations Committee meets to review the measure. No
date has yet been set for a Full House Committee markup. In the Senate, the Interior bill has not yet cleared the subcommittee level in the Appropriations Committee.
- National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
The Subcommittee approved funding of $170 million for both the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), an increase of $2.5 million over the current year (FY 2010), and $9 million above the level requested by the Obama Administration for FY 2011. The National Endowment for the Arts received the same amount.
- Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution would receive a $37 million increase over FY 10–the same as the President’s request–up to a level of $798 million.
- National Park Service
The Park Service’s FY 11 budget would increase by only $21 million, up to a level of $2.7 billion.
Teaching American History Grants
The Teaching American History grants program at the Department of Education would be level funded at $119 million. This is $119 million above the President’s request, which had zeroed out the program pending its inclusion in the “Well Rounded Education” initiative.
- Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS):
The IMLS would receive $271 million in FY 11. This is a cut of $11 million from the FY 10 level of $282 million. However, it is $5million more than Obama FY budget request. Programs funded under the Museum Service Act would receive $33.6 million, the same as last year. Programs funded under the Library Services Technology Act would receive $213.6 million, the same as last year.
4. House Labor, HHS and Education FY 2011 Appropriations bill
In the House, FY 11 funding bill has only cleared the Labor, HHS & Education appropriations subcommittee. At that level, the macro number for each agency is released and it is not broken down to the programmatic level. As a result, the funding level for the Teaching American History Grants program is not yet known.
The IMLS would receive $266 million, a $16 million reduction from FY10 and the same as the Administration’s FY 11 budget request.
One final note, Congress is not expected to complete action on the budget before FY 11 begins on October 1. As usually happens, Congress will pass a series of continuing resolutions that will fund federal agencies at the FY 10 level. And, it is anticipated that few of the actual appropriations bills will be passed separately, but will be rolled into a huge omnibus spending bill at some point.
The wild card in the appropriations process this year is the elections in November. Should the Republicans take control of either body any efforts by the Democrats to pass an omnibus spending bill during a post-election lame duck session would be
stymied. So there is no way to predict at this point what FY 11 agency funding levels will be.