House approves NARA bill

The House unanimously approved legislation to streamline National Archives and Records Administration operations.

Introduced by Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee, the bill moves to the Senate for consideration.

The bill has four major provisions:

It would shorten the process of requesting permission from NARA officials to keep records beyond their retention date. The current process is cumbersome for everyone involved.

It would allocate facility-use fees toward educational outreach.

It would let NARA officials give money to state, local and nonprofit organizations for NARA programs.

It would grant NARA officials the authority to purchase uniforms for service personnel.

Additionally, the legislation reauthorizes appropriations of up to $10 million annually through fiscal 2009 for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. If the Senate approves the measure, it would be the eighth authorization of this legislation since 1964.

"NARA has a difficult but important job as the nation's recordkeeper, and by passing this bill, we are able to assist this agency by adding the tools they need to make them more efficient in dealing with the problems of the 21st century," Putnam wrote in a statement.

NARA, created by Congress in 1934 as the nation's recordkeeper, is a small agency with the large task of identifying, acquiring, preserving and providing access to the valuable, permanent records of the federal government. From the records of the Continental Congress to battle maps of Operation Desert Storm, from parchment to e-mail, NARA and its facilities nationwide provide invaluable access to the records of our national life.

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