The Historical Advisory Committee to the Department of State (HAC) released a report assessing both improvements in publishing the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series by the Office of the Historian (HO), and the pitfalls of NARA’s declassification process. The report concludes with mixed results, noting that while it will remain difficult, if not impossible, for the HO to publish its FRUS series documenting events within 30-years of their occurrence as mandated by law, HO has made robust and encouraging progress and the office continues to increase the number of publications it releases.
However, HAC was less encouraged by the declassification and release of State Department records by NARA. Executive Order 13526 mandates the “declassification of records over 25-years old-unless valid and compelling reasons can be specified for not releasing them.” The HAC report noted that “[t]he review, transfer, and processing of records are falling further behind the timeline needed to meet their targets, and the leadership of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) does not manifest the sense of urgency required to reverse this trend.” The report soberly concludes that NARA “currently lacks a plan, the backlog is growing, it is woefully understaffed, and its morale is the lowest of any government department or agency. NARA’s leadership must act now. The fiscal environment is not improving, and the volume of federal records to review, transfer, and process is exploding.”
- Report of the Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, January 1-December 31, 2012. H-Diplo Discussion (July 1, 2013).
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