The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA) budget has been the cause of much recent consternation amongst genealogists. The proposed cutbacks will hamper the research efforts of many. A recent announcment that that "all is well" at NARA turns out to be false; the money returned to the budget did not get reallocated to operating expenses. Instead, it went back to the General Fund.
Professional genealogists Marie Melchiori and Claire Bettag met with an NARA representative to discuss the budget crisis. A letter writing campaign by concerned genealogists is needed NOW. Here is their report of the meeting:
National Archives officials have provided a clarification of the budget situation. Outlined below is their assessment.
Their facts show that action is again needed from NARA users. To affect NARA’s current budget and future funding, action is needed within the next WEEK, while the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is considering NARA’s budget!
Assessment of the financial situation at NARA:
- The National Archives (including the presidential libraries) faces a budget shortfall of between $10 and $12 million for FY 2007. The shortfall is in base funding that supports the day-to-day operations of the archives and represents fixed must-pay bills (people, buildings, utilities, security).
- The shortfall is caused by steep increases nationwide in utilities, security, information technology, and rent. (NARA comprises 36 facilities in 20 states and the District of Columbia).
- In addition, NARA had to absorb across-the-board appropriation reductions and fund civilian pay raises for several fiscal years.
- To survive, NARA has cut back on building security, instituted a hiring freeze, offered retirement buyouts, and reduced hours of service to the public.
- It is no news that funding is tight for the non-homeland security civilian side of government right now…but what may be news is its impact on a program like the National Archives and the presidential library system.
Consequently, everyone in the genealogical community is strongly urged to help. Here’s what we all need to do—in the next week:
1. Write to our congressmen and senators expressing our support for full funding of the National Archives program for FY 2007—including operations, the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) program, the repair and restorations projects, and the National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
2. Write to the director of OMB to ask for major “catch-up” funds in the NARA budget for FY 2008. Ongoing operation of NARA, a vital agency, requires it. Moreover, NARA’s ability to take in the president’s records and support his library in 2009 demands it. Write to:
Mr. Rob Portman
Director, Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20503
Action in the next ONE WEEK is crucial, while the Office of Management and Budget is considering NARA’s budget. Thank you, in advance, for helping the National Archives!
Marie Melchiori, CG, CGL
Claire Bettag, CG, CGL