Improvements Are Needed in the Management of the National Archives Preservation and Trust Fund Activities

LCD-80-13: Published: Oct 26, 1979. Publicly Released: Oct 26, 1979.

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A review was made of the adequacy of the physical storage and preservation of documents and audiovisual materials at the National Archives and Records Service (NARS). Aspects of the National Archives Trust Fund operation were also reviewed.

Because of the high costs of deacidification and repair of paper, NARS made little progress in preserving its 3 billion textual records. Other efforts at preservation, such as fumigation, proper storage, and adequate inventory procedures, also met with practical difficulties. In addition, due to a misinterpretation of legislation on annual appropriations, NARS improperly carried over to fiscal year 1979 more than $1 million of the prior year's funds. The review of the National Archives Trust Fund showed that NARS placed the broadest interpretations on legislation governing its operation, resulting in use of the Fund for businesslike activities for which its cost accounting system is not adequate. In addition, NARS improperly used the Trust Fund Board's direct-hire authority and interchanged employees between the Fund and appropriated activities without the required approval of the Office of Personnel Management.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) should direct the Archivist to: (1) develop a plan (including estimates of the funds needed to implement it) for microfilming textual records and disposing of records having no intrinsic value; (2) periodically report to the Administrator on the implementation of the microfilming plan; (3) include more descriptive information on preservation activities in budget submissions to the Congress; (4) amend the regulation requiring fumigation of records in the regional branches and develop alternative procedures that would minimize the potential for infestation; (5) deobligate funds improperly carried over to fiscal year 1979 and return these funds to the General Fund of the Treasury; and (6) periodically take selective inventories of archival records, particularly of those having intrinsic value. The Administrator of GSA should direct the Inspector General of GSA to determine the extent to which funds were carried over for each of the 5 years prior to fiscal year 1979 and report any violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act that might result from adjusting the accounts involved. The Administrator of GSA should direct the Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service to: (1) evaluate environmental conditions at all NARS archival storage locations; (2) ensure that there are plans to bring all NARS archival storage facilities up to acceptable conditions; (3) monitor the actions to upgrade NARS archival storage facilities; and (4) report on any undue delays.

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