Publication Date

December 1, 2009

Perspectives Section


On October 30, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies fiscal year 2010 appropriations bill (H.R. 2996). The legislation includes funding for three agencies of interest to the historical community: the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Park Service, and the Smithsonian Institution.

The National Endowment for the Humanities

The National Endowment for the Humanities will receive $167.5 million under the appropriations. This represents a $12.5 million increase over the fiscal 2009 level of $155 million.

Fiscal 2010 NEH funding by program (All amounts are in thousands of U.S. Dollars; fiscal 2009 amounts are shown in parentheses):

Federal/State Partnership $40,370 ($35,000); Preservation and Access $17,116 ($16,000); Public Programs $15,616 ($14,500); Research Programs $16,866 ($14,500); Education Programs $15,616 ($14,500); Program Development $750 ($400);We The PeopleInitiative grants $14,500 ($15,800); Digital Humanities Initiatives $4,866 ($4,000);Treasury funds $4,800 ($5,000); Challenge Grants $9,500 ($9,300);Administration $27,500 ($26,000).

The National Park Service

The Interior, Environment and Related Agencies fiscal 2010 appropriations bill provides $2.2 billion for the operation of the National Park Service (NPS). This represents a $130 million increase over the fiscal 2009 level.

Funding for historical and preservation-related programs at the NPS is summarized below. The fiscal 2009 appropriation is shown in parentheses.

Historic Preservation Fund $79.5 million ($69.5 million). This allocation will cover State Historic Preservation Offices $46.5 ($42.5 million); Tribal Grants $8 million ($7 million)
Save America’s Treasures program $25 million ($20 million). Of this amount, $14,8 million is for competitive grants and the remaining $10.2 million in funds are allocated to congressionally earmarked projects. These funds are used to make small, one-time grants for specific local historic preservation projects to preserve a building or artifact which might otherwise be lost.

National Recreation and Preservation $68.4 million ($59.6 million). The following allocations will be made under this head.

Heritage Partnership programs $17.8 million ($15.7 million). Of this amount $16.8 million is for grants. These funds finance grants to local nonprofit groups in support of historical and cultural recognition, preservation and tourism activities. The increase is to allow funding for the expanded number of heritage partnership areas authorized by Congress in recent years. In addition, the bill will provide at least $150,000 to the new areas without approved plans.

Preserve America program $4.6 million (zero funding). This program provides small grants to local communities in support of heritage tourism, education and historic preservation planning activities. This program received no funding in fiscal 2009.

Cultural Programs $25 million ($22.6 million).

Japanese American Confinement Sites The bill includes funding for the preservation of sites associated with the confinement of Japanese Americans during World War II. The amount includes $3 million for the Japanese American Site Grants program, and $350,000 for land acquisition.

Other provisions in the bill provide for $9 million for Civil War battlefield preservation and $1 million toward the establishment of a pilot program for the teaching of American history and civics in the national parks.

Sesquicentennial Civil War Planning—In anticipation of the upcoming Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the House and Senate conferees encouraged the NPS, in collaboration with the Civil War Preservation Trust and other organizations, to update the content of its web site and the information available at its Civil War Parks and to employ modern technology and adaptive and interactive media to present this information to the public.

The Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian Institution will receive $791 million under the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies fiscal 2010 appropriations bill. This represents a $60 million increase over the fiscal 2009 level of $731 million.

Of that amount, $636 million is allocated to Salaries and Expenses, which is $2 million more than the Obama administration requested. The increase above the request is designated for the museum-wide collections care initiative to assist the institution in strengthening its efforts to preserve historical collections.

$125 million is allocated for Facilities Capital expenditures. The bill includes $20 million for the design of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture that will be built on the National Mall.

The bill includes $250,000 for the Civil Rights History Project, a five-year initiative to record oral and video histories of those who lived during the African American Civil Rights movement between 1954 and 1968. The Smithsonian and the Library of Congress jointly administer the program. The Library of Congress also received $250,000 in its fiscal 2010 budget for the project.

Here is a breakdown of the salary and expenses funding for the Smithsonian Institution’s history-related museums, archival and library programs.

Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage–$2.2 million; National Museum of American Art and Culture–$12.1 million; National Museum of American History–$22.2 million; National Museum of the American Indian–$32.8 million; National Air and Space Museum–$16.1 million; National Museum of National History–$47.7 million; Smithsonian Institution Archives–$1.8 million; Smithsonian Institution Libraries–$10 million.

Seven out of the twelve fiscal 2010 appropriations bills have yet to be enacted into law. Two bills are awaiting conference action, and five others have yet to be passed by the Senate. As a result, the agencies covered by those bills will continue to be funded under a Continuing Resolution at the fiscal 2009 level.

Included in those bills is the Financial Services and General Government fiscal 2010 appropriations bill that provides funding for the National Archives and Records Administration and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. In addition, the Labor, HHS and Education fiscal 2010 appropriations bill, that includes funding for the Teaching American History Grants program at the Department of Education and the Institute for Museum and Library Services, has yet to pass the Senate.

The Library of Congress

President Obama recently signed into law (P.L. 111-68) the Legislative Branch fiscal year 2010 appropriations bill. The bill includes $439.8 million for salaries and expenses at the Library of Congress. This represents a $27.1 million increase over fiscal 2009.

The bill includes specific allocations of funds for the following programs: National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program $7.6 million; Digital Collections and Educational Curricula Program $7.3 million; Veteran’s History Project $2.2 million; Civil Rights History Project $250,000 (as mentioned above, the Smithsonian Institution, which jointly administers the program with the Library of Congress also received an allocation of $250,000 in its fiscal 2010 budget for the project); Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission $750,000.

— is the executive director of the National Coalition for History.
He can be reached

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