President George W. Bush's fiscal year 2006 budget eliminates both grant funds and staff positions for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). As a result of the cuts, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), NHPRC's parent agency, will be challenged to meet demands in other important areas.
Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein recently appeared before the House Appropriations Sub-committee on Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, and District of Columbia to discuss NARA's fiscal year 2006 funding request. He was the only individual who testified before the subcommittee and did not address funding for the NHPRC in his oral testimony.
In his testimony, Weinstein did reveal that NARA's overall request for fiscal year 2006 is $313.8 million. He emphasized that, "one of NARA's first priorities is to protect the base funding level and the erosion costs by significant fixed cost increases such as pay raises, utility, and other rate charges, over which we have no control." Half of NARA's funding increase request is dedicated to these base costs.
Subcommittee Ranking Member John Olver (D-Mass.) said the elimination of funding for NHPRC was "most distressing." Full Appropriations Committee Vice-Chairman Ralph Regula (R-Ohio) asked Weinstein what the rationale was for eliminating the funding. Weinstein said he respectfully disagrees with the administration's position and has asked that the proposed elimination be reconsidered. "[NHPRC]'s been vital to the work of archivists, historians, states, and communities in virtually every state of the union, assisting on projects ranging from the preparation of the papers of America's founders to developing electronic record systems" he explained.
Subcommittee Chairman Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.) asked why the funding request for the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) program was fiat...