Committee vice-chair: Fund e-records research

Members of the House Appropriations Committee recently voiced support for reinstating funds for the National Archives and Records Administration's grants program, which is responsible for electronic records research and state historical projects.

At an April 26 hearing of the committee’s Transportation, Treasury and Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary and District of Columbia Subcommittee, lawmakers expressed strong backing for the 70-year-old National Historical Publications and Records Commission, said Bruce Craig, director of the National Coalition for History.

“I don’t think the hearing could have gone much better,” Craig said. “I have no doubt that there will be some funding set aside for" the commission.

The administration's fiscal 2006 budget request has no funding for the commission, NARA Archivist Allen Weinstein said in his testimony last week during the first public NARA appropriations hearing in five years. Weinstein, a historian, called the dismantling of the grants program an unfortunate mistake when he was sworn into office two months ago.

Archivists and historians nationwide mounted a major campaign to stop the commission's elimination. Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), vice chairman of the committee spoke in favor of the grants program, Craig said.

During the hearing, Weinstein also addressed the Electronic Records Archives project, intended to save all government records and ensure that they will be available in the future, regardless of format, hardware and software.

Two teams led by Harris and Lockheed Martin are vying for the project, which is expected to be awarded in August. NARA officials have reviewed each bidder’s system requirements specifications and are examining architecture documents from both teams, Weinstein said. Cost proposals are due mid-May and the companies will demonstrate their prototypes in June.

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