Publication Date

April 1, 2000

Perspectives Section


The President’s Fiscal 2001 Budget for Cultural Programs


National Endowment for the Humanities

The president has requested in fiscal 2001 $150 million, a 30 percent increase over the current level of $115.260 million, for the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is well to note that this increase would still put the NEH budget well below the $172 million the agency had in fiscal 1995 prior to the 36 percent reduction in funding that it sustained in fiscal 1996. The request would spread most of the increase proportionately among the existing core programs. However, there is some money earmarked for relatively new programs, such as $4 million for regional humanities centers.

The administration’s summary of the fiscal 2001 appropriations request highlights as its centerpiece a multifaceted, agency-wide initiative, “Rediscovering America,” that encourages Americans to discover anew the nation’s history and culture and preserve its rich heritage for the benefit of future generations. One of the programs in “Rediscovering America” is “My History Is America’s History,” designed to encourage Americans of all ages to learn more about their family history and to place it in the context of the broad sweep of American and world history. There is also in this initiative a new sound recording preservation program and a digitization of collections program as well as a new program called

“Extending the Reach” that provides special grants to underserved institutions, communities, and areas across the country to enable them to participate more fully in NEH programs and activities.

Additionally, the budget request includes increased funding for summer seminars and institutes and for high quality television and radio programs, museum exhibits, and library reading and discussion programs. Of special interest to scholars is a request to establish a new program of “Travel to Research Sites” grants.

National Archives

President Clinton has proposed a fiscal 2001 total budget request of $308.343 million for the National Archives, a $77.755 million increase over the fiscal 2000 level of $230.588 million. The major new spending initiative in this budget is $88 million for the renovation of Archives I, the original archives building on Pennsylvania Avenue. The work will include correcting mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire safety deficiencies, upgrading storage conditions to meet modern archival standards, providing increased exhibit and public meeting spaces, and constructing new encasements for the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

Comparisons of the archives’ budgets for the past several years is complicated by the shift in fiscal 2000 to a new reimbursable program under which the National Archives is charging agencies fees for storage of their records in the archives’ records centers and for services the records still in the agencies’ legal custody. The fiscal 2000 budget included $22 million as a one-time appropriation to assist with the start up of the reimbursable program. While the fiscal 2001 budget includes no funding for the records centers since they are to become sell-supporting storage facilities, the proposed budget does include a $29 million increase in the National Archives’ operating expenses. This increase will be used to advance initiatives in four major areas: improving records management throughout the government, meeting the special challenges posed by electronic records, expanding public access to records, and meeting storage and preservation needs.

National Historical Publications and Records Commission

The one part of the National Archives’ proposed budget that is slated for a decrease is the grants program of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, which will be reduced from $6.25 million to $6 million. While the amount available for competitive grants in fiscal 2001 will remain at the same level as in fiscal 2000, $6 million, many in the historical and archival communities had hoped that the $250,000 that had been earmarked in last year’s budget for a special congressionally requested project would be retained in fiscal 2001 as a small increase for the competitive grants.

Library of Congress

James Billington, the librarian of Congress, has requested a fiscal 2001 budget for the Library of Congress of $428.1 million, an 11 percent increase over the current funding level. The budget justification states that a significant portion of the increase will go to fund mandatory pay raises and unavoidable price-level increases, but there is also new money for the library’s digital futures initiative, the National On-Line Library. The justification notes that the Internet is creating a profound, fundamental shift in the way people communicate. In 2000 the library will be bringing to an end the initial five-year digitization program that received considerable support from private funding. Thus the library wishes to establish thedigital futures program as a part of the core library program. Therefore, there is a need for increased federal funding in this area. “For the new millennium, the library has a unique opportunity,” Billington said, “to become a global leader in digital information: the hub of an international network to advance education and understanding.”

Institute for Museum and Library Services

The president has requested for the Office of Museum Services, the museum component of the Institute for Museum and Library Services, $33.378 million, an increase of $9.07 million over the current level of $24.3 million, which makes it about a 30 percent increase.

Smithsonian Institution

The president’s request for fiscal 2001 for the operating budget of the Smithsonian is $396.8 million, up from $371.2 million in fiscal 2000. The final funds required for building the National Museum of the American Indian on the Mall were included in the fiscal 2000 budget.

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

The Woodrow Wilson Center, which was facing an uncertain future just a few years ago with Congress making inquiries about poor management policies, received a major budget increase last year, and the president has requested another increase for this year. The budget in fiscal 1999 was $5.84 million; in fiscal 2000 it increased to $6.763 million. The president has requested $7.310 million for fiscal 2001.

Fulbright Scholarly Exchange Program

The president has requested $124.6 million, a significant increase for the Fulbright Program for fiscal 2001, which was funded at $109.87 million in fiscal 2000 and $107.36 million in fiscal 1999.

Historic Preservation

The president’s budget included level funding of $31.598 million in fiscal 2001 for the State Historic Preservation fund, which funds much of the work of the State Historic Preservation Offices. The Save America’s Treasures program, a special three-year millennium initiative, is slated in the president’s budget to receive $30 million, the same as in fiscal1999 and fiscal 2000.

National Park Service

The administration’s request for the National Park Service is $2.258 billion, an increase over last year’s appropriation of $2.041 billion. Since more than 220 of the 377 National Park sites are cultural sites, the National Park Service plays a major role in preserving and interpreting our nation’s historic resources. Although it is often difficult to determine what portions of the budget are earmarked for cultural resource management, a total increase for the National Park Service is generally good news for those concerned about history in the parks.

Page Putnam Miller is the director of the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History.

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