ANNUAL WORK PLAN B LEGISLATIVE, POLICY, ORGANIZATIONALISSUES FOR FY 2007
PART I -- ADVOCACY
The National Coalition for History (NCH) advocates for the interests of history and archives by lobbying and communicating with federal legislators, their staffs, and federal agency officials, as well as partnering with Coalition members and other advocacy organizations.
Strategic Plan: With the hiring of R. Bruce Craig as Executive Director, a strategic planning process was initiated and plan was adopted. Beginning in 2002, aspects of the NCC/NCH Strategic Plan were implemented and this process continued through FY 2005. In 2005, the Policy Board authorized a committee to review and update it in FY 2006. The NCH Board adopted the new strategic plan on 1 September 2006, and it addresses the organization=s advocacy and educational efforts, fiscal challenges, web presence, and outreach efforts to the media. This 2007 Work Plan reflects the directives set forth in the new strategic plan.
Legislative Advocacy: One of the primary functions of the history coalition is advocacy on behalf of the history and archives community on Capitol Hill. This is accomplished through direct and indirect action by staff, member organizations, and grassroots advocacy.
In 2007, for the first time in over a decade, the Democrats will control both houses of Congress. In December 2006, the incoming Democratic chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees announced that they would not tackle the eleven remaining appropriations bills that were left uncompleted by their Republican predecessors and pass a new fiscal year 2007 budget. As a result, when Congress returns it will enact a continuing resolution and federal agencies will be operating for the remainder of this fiscal year at the numbers adopted for FY 2006. Because of increases in federal salaries and overhead costs, this means in most cases federal agencies will actually be sustaining cuts from three to nine percent. House Appropriations Committee chair David Obey (D-WI) and Senate Appropriations Committee chair Robert Byrd (D-WV) have also said they will put a temporary freeze on specially designated programs and projects, known as Aearmarks,@ until they have had a chance to weigh their individual merits.
Action Item: NCH will continue to take the lead in advocating on priority issues as recommended by the Executive Director, in consultation with the Policy Board. NCH will also partner with member groups and coalitions; continue to issue NCH ACTION ALERTS as appropriate; and continue to build a grassroots advocacy network through a partnership with the National Humanities Alliance and the Federation of State Humanities Councils.
Action Item: The Cap Wiz electronic grassroots program needs to be reassessed for its effectiveness in advancing the advocacy goals of the NCH and its member organizations. Thus far, it has shown mixed results. NCH shares the $12,000 annual cost for this service equally with the National Humanities Alliance and the Federation of State Humanities Councils. The current contract expires at the end of 2007.
Action Item: The history coalition will work with member organizations to build their advocacy effectiveness through committee work, coalition building, and the establishment of networks of grassroots advocates at the Congressional District level.
Action Item: The Executive Director currently has no means to identify and track bills, committee hearing schedules, bill amendments, etc., other than through free public services such as THOMAS, which is provided by the Library of Congress, and the Congressional Record. An on-line commercial bill tracking service, such as Congressional Quarterly, would provide a cost-effective, timesaving means of performing these basic, yet critical, tasks. The Executive Director should explore the cost of such a service and make a recommendation to the Policy Board as to the cost/benefit analysis of procuring such a system.
PRIMARY LEGISLATIVE ISSUES:
While the 110th Congress will see many changes as a result of the Democratic takeover, the budget challenges and issues facing historical, archival, and humanities advocates will likely remain the same. Appropriations issues continue to be a primary focus of the NCH=s advocacy efforts.
The administration=s budget priorities will remain the war in Iraq and homeland security and one can expect that the President=s fiscal year 2008 proposed budget would once again seek to freeze or cut domestic spending programs. While one might assume that Democrats ideologically would be more sympathetic to spending for the humanities, the party will be under tremendous pressure to hold the line on spending as it tries to position itself as fiscally responsible heading into the 2008 presidential election.
Education (Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education): The ATeaching American History@ (TAH) initiative will see a funding level of $121 million BB the amount appropriated to the program in FY 2006 and the same as proposed by Senator Byrd in the Senate for FY 2007. This figure is some $71 million more than recommended by the President in the FY 2007 budget proposal.
Action Item: The NCH and its partners will once advocate to ensure that $121 million continues to be appropriated to the Department of Education for the ATeaching American History@ initiative.
Action Item: In the 110th Congress Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), the originator of the TAH program, will chair the Senate Appropriations Committee. Nonetheless, it remains important to strengthen the ties between the historical community, the House and Senate appropriations committee members on both sides of the aisle, the White House, and the Department of Education in order to insure sufficient ongoing support for the ATeaching American History@ initiative.
National Endowment for the Humanities/IMLS (Interior and Related Agencies): Under the Democrats= budget freeze, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) would be allotted $141 million B about what was proposed for the agency in FY 2007 by President Bush. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will experience a significant loss as the agency will not get the $15 million (or 6% percent) increase that the White House supported for the IMLS in its FY 2007 budget proposal; funding for the IMLS will be set at $247 million. Funding for the history-based AWe the People@ initiative remains at $15.24 million.
Action Item: The NCH will continue to work in partnership with various humanities groups including the National Humanities Alliance and the Federation of State Humanities Councils in the FY 2008 appropriation effort. To this end, the NCH will participate in both the National Humanities Alliance's AHumanities Advocacy Day@ and the Federation of State Humanities Council's AHumanities on the Hill@ events. The coalition will also continue its effort in support of the AWe the People,” and the Digital Humanities Initiative programs.
Action Item: In 2005 the House Humanities Caucus was established. The history coalition will continue to assist in developing the House Humanities Caucus into a more effective advocacy tool by urging additional House members to join the caucus.
National Archives and NHPRC (Treasury/Transportation): For the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the decision made by the appropriation chairs means the agency will receive an operating budget of $326 million B some $12 million less than the $338 million that was requested by the President for FY 2007. In the NARA budget, the only winner is the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) which had been zeroed out completely (both for grants and program support) in the president=s FY 2007 budget. The commission budget will be $7.5 million -- $5.5 million for grants and $2 million for administrative costs.
Action Item: In early February 2008, the President will announce his proposed operating budget for NARA and the NHPRC. The NCH will continue to work with Archivist Weinstein, key members, and staff of the House and Senate appropriations committees, and coordinate our activities with member organizations on behalf of the NARA budget.
Action Item: As in the past few years, it is expected that the president will once again try to zero out funding for the NHPRC. To this end, a concerted effort will be orchestrated by the historical, archival and humanities communities with the goal of seeing that the NHPRC receives funding at its fully authorized level of $10 million.
Action Item: Consistent with NARA=s programmatic objectives and current initiatives advocated by the coalition=s archives organizations, the history coalition will support additional funding for a state formula grant program through the NHPRC.
Library of Congress/GPO (Legislative Branch): Included in the legislative branch appropriations is the annual funding package for the Congressional Research Service, the Library of Congress (LOC), and the Copyright Office. In FY 2006 Congress approved an appropriation to the LOC of $602.9 million, which is the same amount it will receive this year.
Action Item: Funding for the Library of Congress in FY 2008 will continue to be a concern of the NCH though it is unlikely we will specifically advocate on behalf of the Library's budget.
National Park Service (Interior and Related Agencies): Historic preservation, interpretive programs and scholarly research rest in a variety of Department of the Interior bureaus and continue to be a concern of the NCH. Since 2003, the NCH has been a member of the AAmericans for National Parks@ coalition, a group that seeks to boost federal spending on national parks (mostly to meet a multi-million dollar backlog in maintenance needs -- needs that disproportionately affect historic sites and structures). This year, as in FY 2006, the NPS was funded at $2.3 billion; the ASave America's Treasures@ program was funded at $30 million, with $5 million for the new “Preserve America” initiative. The Historic Preservation Fund was funded at $72.75 million that included $40.25 million for the State/tribal grant programs.
Action Item: The NCH will continue to work in partnership with the AAmericans for National Parks@ coalition in its effort to address the backlog of maintenance needs of the national park system. In addition, the NCH will work in partnership with other members of the historic preservation community to provide adequate funding for the ASave America's Treasures@ program and the Historic Preservation Fund.
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Interior and Related Agencies): The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars assists scholars in the social sciences and humanities. It communicates the results of research to a wide audience through publications, conferences, and fellowships. In FY 2004, the NCH began working closer with the Wilson Center in assessing and advocating for funding. Over the years, the budget for the Wilson Center has remained fairly stable (approximately $9 million).
Action Item: The NCH will continue to actively monitor, and if deemed necessary, weigh in with various Congressional committees on the funding needs of the Wilson Center.
PRIORITY LEGISLATIVE ISSUES
No Child Left Behind Reauthorization: President Bush=s ANo Child Left Behind@ (NCLB) initiative has generated considerable controversy within the history community. The legislation will be coming up for reauthorization in 2008, with Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) as chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and Representative George Miller (D-CA) chairing the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Some member groups favor adding the discipline of Ahistory@ to the initiative, others are ambivalent or oppose such a move.
Action Item: In anticipation of the reauthorization of NCLB, the NCH needs to ensure that our members are kept abreast of developments as they occur, especially on the major issues affecting history.
LEGISLATIVE ISSUES (Secondary):
During the109th Congress, the NCH monitored over 100 bills that were of potential interest to the historical and archival communities. As this is written in late-December it remains uncertain what priorities the new Democratic majority will stress with regard to history and archival issues.
Action Item: On secondary issues, the Executive Director will continue to monitor legislative activity and seek direction from the Policy Board as appropriate. The Executive Director will also continue to report on issues of interest through the weekly NCH Washington Update.
FEDERAL AGENCY ADVOCACY
Formula Grants for Museums: In recent years, the crisis in state funding of heritage-related activities reached a critical point. In 2004, history coalition member the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), as well as several archives member groups, initiated a multi-year national effort to devise a new state-based federal formula grant program to support museums. (For archives formula grants, see NARA appropriations and NHPRC).
On 11 December 2006, Anne-Imelda M. Radice, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), announced that her agency would undertake an effort to explore the feasibility of formula grants to the states to support museum services. IMLS plans to work with community leaders, museum professionals, and educators across the country to convene local hearings to investigate the public's needs for museum services and the potential for meeting these needs through federal grants to the states. A meeting of national leaders will be convened this year to discuss the findings. A report will be published in December 2007.
Action Item: The NCH will continue to participate in coalitions seeking to increase the appropriations for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and will be involved in stakeholder meetings as it considers state formula grants.
Communication and Coordination with White House and Federal Agency Leaders and Staff: The National Coalition for History continues to play an equally important advocacy role with federal agencies. The NCH has maintained excellent relationships with the Archivist of the United States, the Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and other key officials in the federal historical and archival bureaucracies. The Coalition has also participated with other stakeholders in periodic meetings with the President=s Chief Counsel.
Action Item: It is a top priority for the new Executive Director to create and maintain contacts with key federal agency officials. The incoming Executive Director has already met with the Archivist of the United States and other key personnel at the Archives, the Department of State=s Office of the Historian and the House and Senate Historians= offices. Similar meetings need to be arranged with the NEH Chair and officials at the Smithsonian Institution, Department of Education and National Park Service in early 2007. The Executive Director should continue to meet with, advise, and facilitate meetings and communications between key administration officials and member organizations of the history coalition on a regular basis.
Action Item: The Executive Director should continue to meet with White House staff and expand contacts within the Office of Management and Budget.
Action Item: The Executive Director will monitor the Federal Register daily and report on issues of interest through the NCH Washington Update. The history coalition will serve as clearinghouse of information for member organizations and alert them to opportunities for comment on agency policies and guidelines. As appropriate, comments will be submitted directly to agencies on behalf of the history coalition and/or its constituent organizations.
Human Subjects Review and Oral History: For several years the NCH has supported the activities of the American Historical Association (AHA) and the Oral History Association (OHA) in their ongoing effort to negotiate an agreement with the federal Office of Human Research Protections (OHRP) to exclude oral history from regulatory oversight and review by Institutional Review Boards (IRBs).
Action Item: The NCH will continue to provide assistance as requested to help clarify the OHRP's position on oral history.
Selection of New Chief Historian of the NPS: In 2005 the history coalition initiated and coordinated meetings by coalition member organization representatives with NPS officials to see that a qualified new Chief Historian is selected to replace the retired Dwight Pitcaithley. The coalition also prepared comments on the proposed revision of NPS Management Policies. In December 2006, the NPS finally posted the position of Chief Historian. The closing date for applications is 19 January 2007.
Action Item: The NCH will monitor the Chief Historian selection process to ensure that a qualified candidate fills the position.
Presidential Libraries / Presidential Records Executive Order: Presidential libraries and records remain of primary interest to the NCH. On 1 November 2001, President Bush issued Executive Order (EO) 13233 entitled, AFurther Implementation of the Presidential Records Act.@ The order replaces President Reagan’s Executive Order 12667 (issued 18 January 1989) and reinterprets aspects of the Presidential Records Act of 1978 (PRA). Since then, several history coalition members have filed suit in a federal court in Washington, D.C. seeking to overturn the Bush EO. The coalition has also supported efforts by members of Congress to enact legislation to nullify the Bush EO.
Action Item: The NCH will continue working with agency and White House officials, lawsuit plaintiffs, and various coalitions to see the legal challenge to its conclusion and/or strive to work with administration officials to see that especially offensive provisions are modified in an amended EO.
Declassification of Historical Federal Records / FOIA-Mandatory Review: The NCH has long supported continued vigilance and active monitoring and when necessary has taken direct action to insure federal government implementation of other legislative and policy strategies designed to encourage government openness. In 2004 the history coalition became a founding member of the AOpentheGovernment.org@ coalition that seeks Ato advance the public’s right to know and reduce secrecy in government.@
Action Item: The history coalition will continue to support efforts by historians, scholars, and member organizations in their actions (FOIA, Mandatory Review proceedings, legal challenges, etc.) to promote government openness and access to historical records. The NCH may become a party to such efforts through FOIA filings, preparation of or facilitating member organization sign-ons to amicus briefs, and, when approved by the Policy Board, become a party to legal challenges.
Action Item: Staff will continue to monitor the activities of the State Department's Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, the Department of Defense Historical Records Declassification Advisory Panel, and the Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress and make periodic reports through the NCH WASHINGTON UPDATE.
Document Retrieval and Replevin: Since 2003, the NCH has informally monitored various on-line auction sites for stolen artifacts and manuscript materials. In FY 2004 the NCH actively worked to see legislation enacted (P.L. 108-383) authorizing NARA to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the NCH to make a discretionary grant to have the NCH systematically monitor up to 100 internet auction sites for stolen documents; that proposal was approved by NARA in December 2004. Upon the awarding of a $20,000 grant by NARA, systematic monitoring by the NCH began in 2005.
Action Item: Through an arrangement with NCH, former-Executive Director Bruce Craig will continue to work with NARA, and the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security in the recovery of stolen archival materials. On NCH=s behalf, Dr. Craig will also continue to work with NARA, the Advisory Board on the Records of Congress, and several member organizations (i.e., The Manuscript Society) on various replevin related program activities.
Smithsonian Institution: Ever since the appointment of Lawrence Small as Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, the organization has been embroiled in a number of controversies relating to donor recognition, donor influence on exhibitions, the reorganization of the research function within the institution, and the Secretary's ability to manage the institution effectively. In 2006, a major controversy arose when the Smithsonian executed a 30-year, semi-exclusive contract with Showtime Networks, Inc. to create a digital on-demand television channel. Stakeholders, including NCH, raised serious concerns about the agreement=s potential effects on public access and the use of the Smithsonian=s collections by historians and filmmakers. In December 2006, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report questioning some of the practices adopted to implement the contract. It remains to be seen what action, if any, the appropriating and authorizing committees in Congress will take in response to the GAO report.
Action Item: The NCH will continue to monitor developments in the Smithsonian Institution and, through the NCH WASHINGTON UPDATE, continue to keep readers informed about developments at the various Smithsonian museums. As appropriate, NCH will engage in advocacy on Smithsonian issues as they affect our constituents.
Copyright and E-government Issues: The National Humanities Alliance and the library community continue to actively monitor and report on various developments in the realm of copyright and intellectual property rights. The NCH is a member of several working groups focusing on these issues.
Action Item: The NCH will continue to monitor and report on copyright issues relevant to the history and archival communities (i.e. orphan works). It will continue to participate on the National Humanities Alliance Intellectual Property Committee and monitor pending legislative measures and court cases.
II. EDUCATION AND INFORMATION CLEARINGHOUSE
The history coalition serves an educational and clearinghouse function for the history and archival community it serves. By extension, the Coalition=s education mission extends to the media and the general public. The primary tool for accomplishing this function is the weekly electronic posting the NCH WASHINGTON UPDATE, the organization=s web presence, the executive director=s articles, presentations and interaction with the media, and monthly and quarterly columns in member organization newsletters.
Action Item: The NCH WASHINGTON UPDATE will be posted on a weekly basis except during the traditional summer legislative break and the end-of-the-year holiday season. Columns will be prepared for the American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Society of American Archivists and other member organizations will be encouraged to use UPDATE articles in their publications with proper attribution.
For many, the public face for the NCH and its member organizations, is the NCH website. Unfortunately, the current website at http://www.h net.org/~nch/ is out-dated and in need of a major overhaul. As currently structured, the website is not serving the essential educational and clearinghouse function for which it was originally intended. One major problem is that it cannot be updated easily. For example, it has been two months since the hiring of the new Executive Director, yet despite requests to the site managers at H-NET to remove it, the vacancy announcement remains on the website. In addition, the website lacks the capacity for such basic amenities as providing a link to each member organization=s website or to our Cap Wiz grassroots lobbying system.
Most of legislative, regulatory, grassroots, educational and organization building initiatives established by the NCH Policy Board in the 2007 Strategic Plan hinge on the ability to quickly disseminate information to our members, newsletter subscribers, journalists and the public.
Action Item: The Executive Director should immediately research the options and costs associated with significantly upgrading the NCH=s website. By the March 2007 meeting of the Policy Board, the Executive Director should recommend a plan for upgrading and/or replacing the website.
Action Item: After the NCH website is redesigned, the Executive Director should work with member organizations to establish reciprocal links with their organizations= websites.
Advocacy for the history and archival communities does not just include governmental officials. The media can also be an effective tool to disseminate positions taken by NCH and publicize issues of interest to our constituent members. The NCH has existing columns in AHA, OAH and SAA publications and on a less regular basis in other member organization=s periodicals. However, because of the NCH=s location in Washington, the coalition has an opportunity to reach national media on issues of concern.
Action Item: The Executive Director should pro-actively establish contacts with the national and Washington media to assist in publicizing issues of interest to the historical and archival communities. The Executive Director should monitor issues and identify opportunities for the leaders of NCH member organizations to be interviewed or provide op-ed pieces on issues.
National History Center: For several years the American Historical Association (AHA) has been working toward the creation of a National History Center. The NCH Executive Director currently participates on the Center=s planning board.
Action Item: The NCH Executive Director should assist the National History Center by taking appropriate actions to advance the center's objectives, especially on the Congressional Briefings Series.
Conference Activity: As in the past, the Executive Director should identify opportunities to increase the visibility and credibility of the NCH by participation in conferences held by member organizations and other groups. For example, the Executive Director is scheduled to participate in a panel discussion on public history in the U.S. State Department=s Office of the Historian at the National Council on Public History meeting in April 2007.
Legal Advocacy: In the past the NCH has joined in an amicus capacity in several suits against the federal government. However, because of financial limitations, the NCH has never budgeted money to help fund legal efforts brought by partnering organizations. Through its communication tools and clearinghouse efforts, the NCH has supported and facilitated member organizations to take direct action by becoming parties to various legal challenges.
PART III. ENHANCEMENT OF ORGANIZATIONAL CAPACITY
Organizational Relationships: To accomplish its mission, the NCH must have the cooperative support and involvement of its members from both the history and the archival communities, as well as sufficient financial and staff resources to perform its essential functions. A priority for the new Executive Director is to strengthen relations with member organizations and their representatives. He should clarify member organization responsibilities and lines of communication, establish clearly defined duties for organization representatives, and set terms and a schedule for board rotation.
Action Item: By spring 2007, in consultation with the Executive Director, the Executive Committee should develop a position description for organization representatives and a roster indicating terms of service and rotations.
Action Item: In consultation with the Executive Director and following up on the actions above, the Executive Committee should develop a new committee structure by spring 2007.
Action Item: In addition to the regular meetings during the AHA and OAH annual meetings, in consultation with the Policy Board, the Executive Director should schedule at least one additional Policy Board meeting in concurrence with the annual meeting of another Policy Board member organization. In January 2007, the Policy Board should identify the date and location for an additional meeting in 2007.
Action Item: To better utilize the grassroots lobbying potential of our constituent organizations, the Executive Director should work with our members to strengthen their advocacy capabilities and capacity. This should include, but not be limited to:
In order to enhance existing membership benefits, and attract new members, NCH needs to identify additional functions or services that NCH can provide its member organizations.
Action Item: In consultation with the Executive Director, by fall 2007, the Executive Committee should develop a plan for enhancing or expanding member organization benefits.
Action Item: Working with member organization representatives, the Executive Director should develop sessions for at least two different annual meetings or other conferences where NCH has had low visibility.
Organizational Base and Finances: For several years the NCH Policy Board has attempted to improve the financial standing of the coalition by advocating voluntary increases in member organization annual contributions, by launching an annual Internet contribution appeal targeted to NCH WASHINGTON UPDATE readers, and through participation in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). There is a continuing need to enhance the organizational finances as reserves were tapped for the first time in FY 2005.
To achieve financial stability and provide greater value to members, NCH must broaden its organizational base and identify and establish new revenue streams, including non-dues revenue. To date, fundraising has been undertaken with the assumption that the level of services to members will remain constant. In the past, the Executive Director has sought to annually identify at least two new organizations, at the sustaining support level, to recruit for membership. However, to grow the organization, a five-year budget plan is needed that addresses both operating expenses and revenue enhancement. The ultimate goal would be to build and maintain a reserve fund equal to half of the annual operating budget.
Action Item: By fall 2007, the Executive Committee and the Executive Director should propose a five-year budget plan, including target dates, for Policy Board consideration. The plan should set a goal of building and maintaining a reserve fund equal to half of the operating budget. It should address operating expenses, special projects, propose a schedule of regular increases in member organization dues and include recommendations on how to increase membership. In the interim, the Executive Director should continue to identify possible membership targets and exploit revenue-generating opportunities.
Action Item: The Executive Director should develop an appeal for dissemination by member organizations, timed to coincide with the annual Combined Federal Campaign. In late 2004, the NCH was accepted into the Conservation and Preservation Charities of American Federation (CPCA) and has participated in the FY 2007 Combined Federal Campaign fundraising drive. Participation in the CFC should continue in FY 2008 and in the future.
Action Item: In an effort to provide low-cost staffing support, the NCH intern program will continue to support a full-time summer intern and part-time interns during the fall and spring school semesters.