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NCC Accomplishments and Achievements of FY-2002
Once again, within the limitations of budget and staff, the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History (NCC) attained many goals outlined in the annual work plan approved by the Policy Board in January 2002. As ususal, some of these objectives were modified throughout the year as the NCC responded to unforeseen challenges to the history and archival profession.
The year 2002 proved to have its legislative challenges but probably nothing in comparison those the history and archival professions will probably face when the 108th Congress convenes in early 2003. In fiscal 2002, appropriation levels for the federal agencies that the NCC advocates for reached new highs -- the National Archives and Records Administration (including the National Historical Publications and Records Commission), the Library of Congress, the National Park Service, and the Department of Education (including $100 million for the "Teaching American History" initiative) all realized increases or hit their authorized limits. At this writing, funding levels for the federal government's FY 2003 appropriations remain in limbo and will remain so until the new Republican controlled 108th Congress convenes in January 2003.
The 107th Congress addressed several "authorizing" legislative issues of concern to the NCC. A number of new National Park Service historical "theme studies" and historical national park units -- several of which the NCC either testified on or submitted for the record letters of support -- were authorized and became public law. Of particular note are the Cold War and Reconstruction theme studies, creation of the Cedar Creek Battlefield and Belle Grove Plantation National Historical Park in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the authorization of the Flight 93 Memorial (PL 107-226) and enactment of the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Act that authorizes $10 million a year for the National Park Service's battlefield protection program. The E-Government Act of 2002 was enacted and legislation was passed authorizing and appropriating funds for a historic barns preservation program (PL 107-171)
The NCC played a critical role in orchestrating the legislative and judicial branch challenge to President Bush's Executive Order 13223, "Further Implementation of the Presidential Records Act." Though Congress has yet to overturn the EO, when the 108th Congress convenes, the measure will yet again be taken up by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate. Largely because of the advocacy work by the historical and archival community, over 68,000 Reagan Era P-5 exemption ("confidential communications") records were released to the scholarly community. Also, Executive Order 12958 that governs national security declassification in federal agencies was not gutted as expected by many anti-governmental secrecy advocates.
The NCC continued to address various non-legislative policy issues and concerns to the historical and archival professions: For example, the NCC continued to actively monitor several issues impacting the Smithsonian Institution. While, there remains cause for concern with the overall direction (especially in the realm of fund raising) provided by the Smithsonian leadership, it was gratifying to learn that Dr. Brent Glass of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museums Commission was selected as the new Director of the National Museum of American History. Several new Congressionally mandated reports to Congress continue to keep many of Secretary Lawrence Small's "innovations" in check.
The vacant "Historian of the House" position remains unfilled, though staffing for the House Historical Services division was dramatically expanded and the division was reorganized and renamed the Office of History and Preservation. In addition, Professor Robert Remini was selected to write the legislatively mandated "History of the House of Representatives."
Declassification of governmental records remained a concern in 2002. The infamous "leak statute" in the Intelligence Authorizations Act of 2001 that was such a concern last year, was not resurrected by the Administration as expected by many following the events of 9-11. The NCC continued to work with a coalition of diverse groups with an interest in government secrecy to insure that the provision does not re-emerge. The NCC monitored and worked closely with the Department of State Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation (which this year adopted a new Memorandum of Understanding between the history office and the CIA), and the NCC continued to monitor the activities of the Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress. Unfortunately the ongoing effort to convince the Administration to appoint the Moynihan Declassification Board has yet to be successful.
One unexpected activity the NCC spent considerable time addressing was an initiative to legislatively sanction a history office in the Department of Homeland Security. In spite of close ties with both Republican and Democratic members on key committees, the lack of a legislative precedent for legislatively creating such an office derailed that effort, at least for the moment. The effort to "administratively" create such an office (as suggested by Committee Chair Joseph I. Lieberman), however, will continue in fiscal 2003 as a priority for the new history coalition.
The NCC continues to monitor and work in close partnership with the archival and library community on a number of issues impacting copyright. This year, the NCC in conjunction with other historical and archival groups assisted in the filing of several amicus briefs on behalf of the historical/archival professions in the pending Supreme Court case, Eldred v. Ashcroft.
The NCC continues to monitor the ongoing controversy over the disposition of the Florida presidential election ballots, and initiated plans on a new initiative to launch a history-based symposium series targeted to members of the new Congress and their staff. The lecture series will bring the historical dimension to policy issues of contemporary relevance to lawmakers.
In terms of its more routine services to its institutional supporters, the NCC WASHINGTON UPDATE continued to be published on a weekly basis throughout the year. Several times the Update was first out of the gate with news-breaking stories of interest to the profession. Direct subscriptions to the UPDATE stands at over 1200 with distribution via H-net to an estimated potential audience of 60,000 readers. This year, several "Action Alerts" were issued requesting members to take quick action. The UPDATE was also a vehicle to bring several important position announcements to the attention of the profession (i.e. Director of the National Museum of American History and the National Archive's NHPRC Executive Director positions). UPDATE stories were redistributed online via George Mason's History News Network, OMB Watch's "Federal Information Policy" newsletter, APSANET (the American Political Science Association's online newsletter), the National Park Service "CRM" internal news posting, and by what is covertly described as an "undisclosed-recipient list" within the Smithsonian Institution.
NCC columns continue to reach a wide reading audience through columns run in the American Historical Association's Perspectives, the Organization of American Historian's OAH's Newsletter, the Society of American Archivist's Archival Outlook, and the American Association for State and Local History's AASLH Dispatch. Articles and news briefs also were reprinted in literally dozens of institutional supporter newsletters and online via the History News Network.
The fiscal condition of the NCC remains sound though the tough economic conditions created financial hardships for several NCC institutional supporters resulting in a slight drop in anticipated revenues. In part offsetting the lost income, several long-standing institutional supporters members increased their level of support including the Organization of American Historians, the Midwest Archives Conference, and the Society for Military History. The NCC exceeded its fiscal year "new revenues" target by welcoming to its fold several new institutional supporters including: The Harry S. Truman Library Institute for National and International Affairs, Association of American University Presses, Connecticut Committee for the Promotion of History, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, the Society of American Historians, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
Respectfully Submitted, Dr. Bruce Craig Director