Government Shutdown Compromises the Work of Federal Archivists

January 22, 2019—The Society of American Archivists supports all archivists, federal employees, and others who are affected by the ongoing government shutdown. With closure of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the National Park Service, and other government agencies, the livelihoods of thousands of people who work with archives are severely compromised. The work of federal archivists and records managers is essential to preserving and providing access to the evidence that safeguards individuals’ rights, documents government actions, and ensures transparency—in short, to the daily functioning of our democracy.

This historically long shutdown has jeopardized the preservation of and access to essential government records that must be made available.  As just two examples:

  • Because all presidential libraries are closed and their staffs furloughed, the records associated with Attorney General nominee William Barr’s service under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush are not available to the U.S. Senators and their staffs who are currently conducting Barr’s confirmation hearing. The credentials of many other government office nominees are similarly unavailable and therefore cannot be thoroughly and fairly assessed.
  • The preservation staff at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri (part of the National Archives and Records Administration), is working to salvage some 6.5 million World War II and Korean War veterans’ records that were damaged in the 1973 Page Avenue facility fire. This team of technicians, too, is on furlough—bringing to a standstill this long-term project to provide access to the records of soldiers, sailors, and airmen who served the United States in time of war. Time is of the essence for these veterans and their families as they seek to retrieve records.

All federal employees who work with archives serve a vital function for the United States. SAA strongly urges Congress and the President to negotiate an immediate end to the government shutdown to ensure that the essential evidence of our government is protected and made available in service of our democracy.

1 Comment(s) to the "Government Shutdown Compromises the Work of Federal Archivists"
KelAppNic says:
Federal Archivists in SAA?

I hope it is appropriate to post this comment here.

If there are any fedral archivists who would like to speak to this issue directly, I was wondering if anyone would be willing to submit an article to the Audio & Moving Image Section Newsletter. Thanks!