While extending a welcome to historian Allen Weinstein, should he be confirmed as the next Archivist of the United States, the Society of American Archivists (SAA), in a written comment, again criticized the process by which Weinstein was nominated.
The Archivist of the United States is the head of the National Archives and Records Administration. The recent call for John Carlin's resignation created a lot of controversy in Washington and elsewhere. See this newsletter at http://eogn.typepad.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2004/08/something_smell.html for details. The Society of American Archivists was one of the groups protesting the selection process for Carlin's replacement.
Although not invited to testify at Weinstein's nomination hearing, SAA officials were invited to submit written comments to the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. "We express our intent to cooperate with Professor Weinstein and to work with him if he is appointed Archivist of the United States," wrote then-SAA president Timothy Ericson, on behalf of the SAA. "However, we also wish to convey again the strong reservations that the Society of American Archivists and 30 other archives, history, and library organizations have expressed about the manner in which this nomination was made." Ericson, who was recently succeeded as SAA president by Randall Jimerson, professor of history at the University of Western Washington, reiterated claims that Weinstein's nomination "was undertaken outside both the letter and the spirit of the law" and urged Congress to ask the White House to "fulfill its obligation" by providing its reasons for asking current archivist John Carlin to resign. Under federal law, the president may remove a sitting archivist, but is required to provide Congress with an explanation of his reasons for doing so.
In an attempt to create a smoother nomination process, SAA also said it will begin work with "interested professional associations" to establish "a more formal procedure that can be used for future nominations." That effort is still in its planning stages, said Jimerson. He has worked with SAA members to establish a list of questions for the nominee and contributed to developing guidelines, such as a list of qualifications and other considerations for the post, which would streamline a process that historically has been anything but smooth. The goal, Jimerson said is to ensure that the archivist position--which is specifically intended to be non-political--does not become politicized.