The President’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request to Congress for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is $358 million. The President’s request includes a slight increase to NARA Operating Expenses compared to the FY 2019 appropriation and maintains FY 2019 funding levels for the Office of Inspector General and Repairs and Restoration. The President’s Budget would eliminate funding for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) Grants Program.
The President’s Budget requests $345.6 million for the Operating Expenses appropriation in FY 2020. For the first time in 30 years, the request does not include funding to repay the debt on the National Archives building in College Park, Maryland, which NARA will fully repay in FY 2019. The request was reduced by $29 million to remove this payment; however, NARA’s operating costs are reduced by the same amount. Excluding the repayment of debt, the FY 2019 funding level for Operating Expenses is equivalent to $344 million. The request does not include new workforce reductions beyond the cuts included in previous years’ budgets.
The President’s Budget includes $22 million in new funding to support NARA’s strategic initiative to stop accepting paper records by December 31, 2022. This year’s request is the first year of a multi-year initiative to build mass digitization capability at NARA. Over the next several years, the initiative would provide space renovations, equipment, upgraded information technology (IT) infrastructure, and additional staff to digitize and make publicly available large volumes of archival records. The $22 million initiative is partially offset by reductions to other NARA programs.
Once fully operational, NARA expects to digitize 8 million to 12 million pages of textual records and 150 terabytes of audio, video, and film records each year. These records will be uploaded to the Electronic Records Archive and made publicly available through the National Archives Catalog. These estimates are in addition to the digitization work already underway in NARA’s digitization labs, custodial units, and by external partners.
Funds requested in FY 2020 would provide for design and construction of new mass digitization space in the basement of the National Archives building at College Park, MD. NARA intends to use FY 2020 funds to construct dedicated space to house conveyor-belt scanners; modernized labs for audio, video, and film; increased cold storage space; and a new stack for storing textual records. Future year funding would be used for equipment, staff, a digital asset management system, and network modernization.
The President’s Budget also includes $4.8 million for the Office of Inspector General and $7.5 million for Repairs and Restoration to NARA-owned buildings, which are the same amounts NARA received in FY 2019.