Bush's choice to replace Carlin raises concerns

Bush's choice to replace Carlin raises concerns

After almost nine years as archivist of the United States, John Carlin will step down as soon as the Senate confirms Allen Weinstein, President Bush’s choice to become the ninth archivist.

Carlin announced his intent to resign as head of the National Archives and Records Administration this winter in a letter to Bush. The president has said he wants Weinstein to take the NARA post but he has not sent the nomination officially to the Senate.

Weinstein is senior adviser for democratic institutions and director of the Center for Democratic Initiatives at the International Foundation for Elections Systems in Washington. He previously was president of the Center for Democracy in Washington. He earned his bachelor's degree from City College of New York and a master's and doctorate from Yale University.

The Society of American Archivists has expressed concern about Weinstein’s nomination.

“Prior to the announcement, there was no consultation with professional organizations of archivists or historians,” the Chicago association noted in a statement this month. “This is the first time since the National Archives and Records Administration was established as an independent agency that the process of nominating an archivist of the United States has not been open for public discussion and input.”

Carlin said he would stay on as archivist until his replacement is confirmed.

“In June, I will complete my ninth year as archivist and with the completion of a major initiative this fall, I believe it will be time for me to look for other opportunities,” he said. “Upon taking the position in June 1995, I made a commitment to our staff and stakeholders to remain at NARA long enough to see its transition from an agency primarily focused on paper records to one positioned to deal with the challenges posed by the electronic records now being created by our government. At the time I estimated that such a transition would take eight to 10 years.”

Under Carlin, NARA is leading the Electronic Records Management e-government project and the Electronic Records Archives project.

For the Quicksilver records management project, NARA has established guidance to transfer e-mail records, permanent scanned text and Adobe Portable Document Format documents, and digital photography records.

For ERA, the agency released a request for proposals in December for a system to preserve and make accessible digital government records long after the hardware and software used to create them has been replaced. NARA plans to award the ERA contract this summer.

Carlin said the administration supported NARA’s work in preserving records.

“We have not only made progress in using new technologies to preserve government records, but also in making our invaluable documentary resources more widely available to the American people,” he said.

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