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State not fulfilling its obligation to document foreign policy

“…and there is no foreseeable likelihood that it will do so…”

Secrecy Overwhelms U.S. Historical Record, by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News (April 20th, 2011).

The [State] Department’s “Foreign Relations of the United States” (FRUS) series is required to fully document the history of U.S. foreign policy no later than 30 years after the fact, but that’s not happening.

“No progress has been made toward bringing the [FRUS] series into compliance with the statutory requirement that volumes be published 30 years after the events they document,” said the new annual report of the Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation.

RSS feed of Foreign Relations of the United States

The State Department has an RSS (ATOM) feed that lists new releases of the important series Foreign Relations of the United States: history.state.gov/open/frus-latest.xml.

The Office of the Historian is responsible, under law, for the preparation and publication of the official historical documentary record of U.S. foreign policy in the Foreign Relations of the United States series. This dataset is a feed for the latest ten volumes in the Foreign Relations of the United States series. Each record in the dataset contains a volume’s title, year of publication, summary, and link to the online volumes. The feed will be updated when current volumes are edited or new volumes are published.

I had never noticed that statement (above) that current volumes might be edited after release. Does that mean that material might be deleted or changed? Or does “editing” only mean adding new content?

IG: State Dept Should Produce 12 FRUS Volumes Per Year

Secrecy News says there is a new report on the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series.

  • IG: State Dept Should Produce 12 FRUS Volumes Per Year. by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News (March 25th, 2010).
  • Report of Inspection: The Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State Office of Inspector General, February 2010, at pp. 34-38.

    “The [State Department Historian’s Office] is behind schedule in meeting the statutory FRUS deadline: HO historians only now are compiling the contents of the volumes covering the foreign policy of the Carter administration (1977-1981),” the Inspector General report said. “To achieve compliance with the 30-year deadline, HO will need to accelerate the rate of publication to approximately 12 volumes per year.”

“Foreign Relations of the U.S.” series falls further behind schedule

State Dept Series Falls Farther Behind Schedule, by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News (December 22nd, 2009).

The U.S. State Department’s official Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series had another disappointing year in 2009 with only two softcopy volumes published to date, including one released last week on “Global Issues, 1973-1976.”

…a third FRUS volume on “Foreign Economic Policy, 1973-1976” [should] appear before the end of the year, and at least one other in January 2010…. There are four Vietnam volumes alone that should be published in 2010.

US Office of Historian site redesign

Department of State Office of the Historian has just released the redesign of its site: www.history.state.gov. They’ve done a really nice job with the redesign including new and easier access to my favorite Foreign Relations of the United States. Users can now browse FRUS by themes like decolonization, instability in Latin America, US-China trade etc (though I’m surprised that there’s no theme for Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, SALT etc. Perhaps they’ll add those additional themes). Users can also browse by country to find history of US diplomatic relations and links to other key publications like Department of State Background Notes, Department of State Country Information, CIA World Factbook, and Library of Congress Country Studies.

The new website boasts greater accessibility and searching within the Foreign Relations of the United States documentary series. It currently offers both textual and facsimile copies of Foreign Relations volumes from the Kennedy Administration through the Nixon-Ford administration. The Office plans to continue to digitize older volumes and eventually house all of the Foreign Relations volumes on its website. The website also contains updated sections on the history of the Department of State, biographies of notable diplomats, and an in-depth timeline of United States diplomatic milestones. The Office’s educational curriculum guides are also downloadable from the website. The Office hopes that through its enhanced presentation and organization, the new website will become the preeminent online resource for U.S. diplomatic history.
–Source: U.S. Department of State

[Thanks Resource Shelf!]