The following was written by the From the National Coalition for History:
On July 12, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year 2008 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill (S. Rept 110-129). The bill includes $313.9 million for operating expenses of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). This funding level is $1.1 million above the President’s request, $1.1 million less than the House recently approved in its bill (H.R. 2829) and $34.6 million above fiscal year 2007 budget.
The Electronic Records Archive program will receive $58 million, the same as the amount provided in the House bill and the President’s request. This is an increase of $12 million over FY ‘07.
The Senate bill provides $25.1 million for the Archives’ repair and restoration account, which is $9 million more than the House-passed bill. The Senate’s allocation is $16 million more than provided in FY’ 07 and $16.5 million above the President’s FY ‘08 request for this account. $13.5 million of the increase would be earmarked for construction projects at the Johnson, Kennedy, Nixon and Franklin Roosevelt presidential libraries. $9.6 million would go to ongoing repairs and restoration, and $2 million would be allocated to the Anchorage, Alaska Regional Archives and Records Center.
On June 28, 2007, the House of Representatives, by a vote of 240-179, approved the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill (H.R. 2829) . The bill includes $315 million ($2.1 million above the President’s request, $1.1 million more than the Senate Appropriations Committee’s bill, and $35.7 million above fiscal year 2007) for operating expenses of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
The Committee Report (H. Rept. 110-207) accompanying the bill directs that the $2.1 million in additional funding be designated to restore evening and weekend hours for public research at the Archives that were eliminated last October. The Senate Appropriations Committee’s report language is silent on restoring research room hours and mentions only “maintaining current service levels.”
The Committee also mandates the hiring of additional archivists to help process public requests for access to historic documents (the archivist workforce has been cut back over recent years). Funding is also included for additional space to house archival documents.
As the amount of records generated by the federal government has increased exponentially, the National Archives budget has remained stagnant for many years. Additional costs for staffing, infrastructure maintenance, and the impending addition of the Nixon and George W. Bush presidential libraries to the Archives’ responsibilities, have placed even more stress on NARA’s already lean budget.
In October 2006, because of budget shortfalls, the Archives was forced to cut back on the hours that its facilities are available to researchers. In addition, the Archives enacted a hiring freeze. This is at a time that the Archives has a backlog of some 400-500 million pages of records that need to be processed.