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Chairman Moakley, I am pleased to testify before you

and the Subcommittee today on House Resolution 419.

with me

is Michael Mc Reynolds, Director of the Legislative Archives

Division at the National Archives.

Passage of the

resolution will be a significant step in making the records

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National Archives, in that the records of the House and the

Senate are not kept by the legislative bodies themselves, as

is the case in almost all other countries.

Here the records

of Congress have been successfully entrusted with the

National Archives for many years, as our recent project with

the House Iran-Contra Committee records amply illustrates.

As you may know, I became Archivist of the United

States in December of last year, but before that I was the

Director of the Gerald. R. Ford Presidential Library in

Michigan.

Many of the papers at that Library, of course,

originated in the House of Representatives during President

Ford's long and meritorious career here.

The personal

papers of Congressman Ford, along with the records from the

White House, were given to the National Archives with a deed

of gift from President Ford.

The deed included a liberal

access policy for researchers wanting to know about

President Ford's career, and most his congressional papers

are now available, 15 years after he left the House.

So I come to this hearing with some experience with

access policies related to the records of the House and an

understanding of the issues raised in revising those

policies.

The National Archives participated in your

hearing in 1986 on the same matter and presented a longer

discussion on the archival considerations related to public

access to the House records.

In reviewing the record of

that hearing, we want to emphasize that the proposed access

revision would continue to protect individual privacy,

national security information, and executive session records

for 50 years.

The proposed resolution will in fact

establish a 39-50 year rule.

Many House records will be open after 30 years, but the

National Archives staff will screen the records for those

three categories and withhold the restricted records, as we

now do for the Senate records with its 20-50 year rule.

Since 1988, we have screened, withheld some records, and

made available to researchers Other Senate records of a very

sensitive nature and have no complaints from the Senate.

Those records include topics such as internal security,

atomic energy, and criminal investigations.

We received

some complaints from researchers, but when the access policy

was fully explained, they understood.

We were asked to comment on the question of the merits

of a 20-50 year rule or a 39-50 year rule.

Undoubtedly it

would be administratively easier to have a uniform access

rule for both the House and the Senate.

Researchers are

puzzled by the present difference and will remain so with a

House 30-50 year rule.

Most researchers are working on a

specific topic and use both the House and the Senate records

in their research.

With the 39-50 year rule, a student

working on the relationship between Congress and President

Kennedy will be able to see relevant records from the

Senate, but not from the House.

The question of a 29 year standard affecting present

House members is lost to the American public, because the

administrative and committee records of the House at the

National Archives contain almost no political or personal

documentation.

The records are bill files, petitions from

citizens, reports from executive agencies, and transcripts

of hearings and other records related to the official work

of the House.

As Congressman Glenn English stated in his

letter to you dated January 25, 1988, "In general, any need

for confidentiality will have long since disappeared by the

twenty year mark."

Our advise on this question is that we

can easily work with a 39-50 year rule, but we see the

administrative and training costs for our staff would be

reduced if the resolution would establish a 20-50 year rule,

and the American research public would enjoy a consistent

access policy to the records of Congress.

For the past year National Archives staff members have

been meeting with House committee staff directors and

records officers to acquaint them with the programs of the

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not, but almost always they did request some type of records

management assistance.

The National Archives does provide

such assistance for executive agencies, and we would pleased

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it, once the Bicentennial Guide to the Records of the House

of Representatives at the National Archives is ready for

publication.

Our work in the last 3 years with the Clerk's Office,

the House Office for the Bicentennial, and your Subcommittee

marks a new era in cooperation and coordination between the

House of Representatives and the National Archives.

We

endorse your continued efforts to make the vast store of

House documents more readily available to the people of this

country.

STATEMENT OF R. MICHAEL MCREYNOLDS

DIRECTOR, LEGISLATIVE ARCHIVES DIVISION,

NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION.

BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON RULES OF THE HOUSE, COMMITTEE

ON RULES, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

SEPTEMBER 17, 1986, ON ACCESS TO THE RECORDS OF THE

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

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