Presidential Libraries

Presidential Historical Records Preservation Act of 2008

This Act authorizes the Archivist of the United States, with the recommendation of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, to make grants to eligible entities on a competitive basis to promote the historical preservation of, and public access to, historical records and documents relating to any President who does not have a presidential archival depository currently managed and maintained by the federal government pursuant to the Presidential Libraries Act of 1955. This Act defines "eligible entities" as specified tax-exempt organizations or state or local governments.

This Act increases the amount of money that the former President’s foundation, which is responsible for constructing a Presidential library, must transfer to the government to be used for an endowment. Funds derived from the endowment are used to offset the annual cost of operating and maintaining the Presidential library. This Act raises the endowment to 60 percent of the cost of the library, and takes effect for libraries built after that of President George W. Bush. The foundations that built the first Bush Library, the Clinton Library and the George W. Bush Library provided endowments of 20 percent of the cost of the library.

This Act directs the Archivist to provide to the Senate and House appropriations committees a 10-year capital improvement plan for all presidential archival depositories, which shall include:

  • a prioritization of all capital projects at such depositories that cost more than $1 million;
  • the current estimate of the cost of each capital project; and
  • the basis upon which each cost estimate was developed.
  • Requires:
    • the plan to be provided to the committees at the same time as the first annual federal budget is submitted to Congress; and
    • the Archivist to provide to the Appropriations Committees annual updates to the plan and an explanation for any changes in cost estimates.

This Act directs the Archivist to submit a report to the House and Senate homeland security committees that provides alternative models for presidential archival depositories that:

  • reduce the financial burden on the federal government;
  • improve the preservation of presidential records; and
  • reduce the delay in public access to all presidential records.

Read the Report

Read the full text of the law at the Government and Printing Office website.