Carlin to resign from NARA

John Carlin, the national archivist, has announced plans to resign and the Bush administration has nominated Allen Weinstein, a historian, to become the next head of the National Archives and Records Administration.

National Archives and Records Administration documents indicate that Carlin's resignation will not become effective until the Senate confirms his successor. On April 8, Carlin notified his staff of his intentions to leave after his successor is sworn in. On that same day, the White Office announced that the president intended to nominate Allen Weinstein, a historian, as the next U.S. archivist.

NARA officials released a copy of a letter that Carlin sent to President Bush last Dec. 19. Wrote Carlin: "During my tenure, I have particularly appreciated the fact that you supported NARA's independence, which is so critical to the credibility of this agency, which is charged with preserving and making available the records that protect citizens' rights, ensure accountability in Government, and tell the story of our history as a nation."

J. Timothy Sprehe, president of Sprehe Information Management Associates Inc., a consulting company, said a change in archivists is unlikely to have a direct impact on NARA's ambitious Electronic Records Archives program, which is just getting off the ground.

"ERA is a technical program," Sprehe said, and one which would be hard to politicize.

However, that didn't stop an archivists trade group from calling for a political debate. This week, the Society of American Archivists issued a statement protesting Weinstein's nomination. It marks the first time since NARA was established as an independent agency that the nomination of a new archivist has not been open to public discussion, the archivist society said.

The archivists group has asked the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), to put a hold on the Weinstein nomination until there is a Senate debate.

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