Press Release nr99-49
Press Release · Monday, February 1, 1999

Washington, DC

Press Release
February 1, 1999
President Proposes Budget Help for the National Archives and Records Administration

From the Declaration of Independence to the latest government e-mail, the nation's records will become safer and more accessible to the public if the Congress approves the budget proposed by President Clinton for FY 2000 for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

The President is asking Congress to appropriate a total of $228 million for NARA for Fiscal Year 2000. If the Congress approves, NARA will be able to build on current work and finance additional progress in improving the management, preservation, and public accessibility of the nation's records. Here are the highlights.

  • For the benefit of public visitors and researchers, the budget provides for the continuation of preparations for the renovation of the 63-year-old original National Archives Building, where NARA displays the Charters of Freedom—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights—which are being re-encased to ensure their continued preservation.

  • The budget will finance expansion of the electronic catalog that NARA is building to make descriptions of NARA's holdings available via the Internet to researchers wherever they are and whenever they need such information.

  • The budget will fund NARA's preparations for opening in 2002 the 1930 Census, closed by law for 72 years, which is eagerly awaited by genealogists, scholars, and other public users in search of information about their families, their localities, and the composition of the American mosaic at that time in our history.

  • The budget will enable NARA to provide better service to the nation's veterans by expanding work to preserve records they need to document entitlements and by redesigning processes so that NARA can provide better and faster responses to requests from veterans for those records.

  • The budget will enable NARA to preserve 20th Century military personnel records, for use by the nation's veterans, their descendants, and scholars, by setting up a preservation program with professional staff in our St. Louis facility.

  • The budget will finance measures to preserve millions of deteriorating historical photographs needed by the press and the media, video and film producers, and a range of scholars to help the public "see" as well as read about history.

  • Funding in the budget will enable NARA to help the Federal Government manage its records more effectively by putting more NARA staff to work on projects that will—

    • give targeted assistance to agencies with the greatest needs;

    • help agencies develop retention schedules for records at risk;

    • reduce the time it takes NARA to appraise and review such agency schedules;

    • provide agencies with better records management information and training.
    • And the budget will help ensure the preservation of mushrooming quantities and proliferating kinds of electronic records to which agencies and the public will need access by enabling NARA to—
    • begin development of an Archival Preservation System that can save the huge volumes of e-mail messages and other small data files that Federal agencies are increasingly creating;

    • develop NARA's capability to preserve document image files;

    • develop a prototype system for providing researchers with on-line access to electronic records that cannot readily be accessed now.

"This budget is important to all Americans," Archivist of the United States John Carlin said in announcing the President's proposals for NARA, "because the records we preserve document the rights of citizens, the actions for which Federal officials are responsible, and the historical experience of our nation. Again we are grateful to President Clinton for his recognition of the importance of our mission and the need to support it."

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail.


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