The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Sunday, December 28, 2014


Audit Shows Records at National Archives in Washington at Risk of being Lost for Good
A photocopy of a map created by the Army Air Corps to plan the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II, indicating Map of Target Area 90-30-748, Hiroshima Area, A-2 Section, XXI Bomber Command, June 1945. A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit says the National Archives has a huge backlog of physical records that need preservations before they are lost and that nearly 80 percent of government agencies are at risk of illegally destroying public records. AP Photo/U.S National Archives Records Administration.

By: Brett Zongker, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP).- An audit prompted in part by the loss of the Wright Brothers' original patent and maps for atomic bomb missions in Japan finds some of the nation's prized historical documents are in danger of being lost for good.

Nearly 80 percent of U.S. government agencies are at risk of illegally destroying public records and the National Archives is backlogged with hefty volumes of records needing preservation care, the audit by the Government Accountability Office found.

The report by the watchdog arm of Congress, completed this month after a year's work and obtained by The Associated Press, also found many U.S. agencies do not follow proper procedures for disposing of public records.

Officials at the National Archives, which houses the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and other treasured documents at its Washington rotunda, had no immediate comment Tuesday on the findings.

The report comes more than a year after news reports of key items missing at the nation's record-keeping agency. Some of the items have been missing for decades but their absence only became widely known in recent years.

The patent file for the Wright Brothers flying machine was last seen in 1980 after passing around multiple Archives offices, the Patents and Trademarks Office and the National Air and Space Museum.

As for maps for the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, military representatives checked them out in 1962, and they've been missing ever since.

The GAO report did not specifically mention those or other examples of missing items including Civil War telegrams from Abraham Lincoln, Eli Whitney's cotton gin patent and some NASA photographs on the moon.

A second GAO report obtained by the AP details "significant weaknesses" in the Archives' security. The Oct. 21 report refers to a lost computer hard drive from the Clinton administration and highlights problems with the Archives' computer access controls, clearance requirements for employees and physical security. A third report not yet released is expected to detail 213 recommendations to improve Archives' security, the GAO said.

The risks highlighted by the GAO could affect volumes of mundane legal memos but also key pieces of history.

Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa requested the audits last year, alarmed at the "apparent lack of effective security." He noted the loss of the Wright Brothers' patent, the Clinton administration computer data with classified information and lost maps from World War II.

"This agency is the country's record keeper," Grassley said in a statement Tuesday. "It's responsible for protecting classified materials and for preserving our most important historical documents. ... The agency needs to commit to fixing its problems and follow through."

The Archives acting alone "cannot solve the persistent problems facing federal records management," the report said, because each agency is responsible for preserving documents.

But the Archives can improve its oversight, the GAO wrote, by pressing for improvement in government-wide records management.

Each agency is supposed to either seek permission to destroy records or recommend preservation at the Archives. An archivist reviews agency submissions, which must include clear descriptions of the records involved, in a four-step process. Archivists often review the records themselves. Proposals to dispose of records must be published in the Federal Register and undergo a 30-day comment period.

The entire process can take a year, but some agencies never begin the process, leaving their records at risk of being lost in the shuffle. As the Archives works to get more agencies to comply, it may not be able to handle the workload, the GAO warned.

The National Archives and Records Administration has 44 facilities in 20 states, including 13 presidential libraries, funded by about $470 million this year from Congress.

Archives Inspector General Paul Brachfeld said Tuesday that the reports build from his investigations in recent years.

The worst threat to historical documents is theft, he said.

"We continue to be victimized by people that understand there's money to be had by trading our documents," Brachfeld said. "They're taking from every American citizen."

Meanwhile, some documents face the threat of deterioration even though they're already at the Archives. Figures from 2009 show 65 percent of its holdings need preservation steps. In some cases, a document's condition already is so poor, it can't be read — a backlog amounting to more than 2 million cubic feet of records.

Brachfeld said new leaders at the Archives understand the problems and are making changes.

The GAO recommends the Archives boost its inspections of agencies, improve internal management, streamline hiring and enhance security.




Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.





Today's News

October 28, 2010

SFMOMA Presents Major U.S. Retrospective of Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson

A Masterpiece from the Museo Archeologico Regionale di Agrigento Goes on View at the Getty Villa

Specially Equipped Silver Aston Martin First Driven by Sean Connery Sells for $4.1M in London

FBI Seizes a Forgery of Andrew Wyeth's Painting "Snow Birds" from an Auction House

Harry Blain and Former Sotheby's Vice Chairman Emmanuel Di Donna to Open New York Gallery

Caravaggio-Inspired Dutch Masterpiece Acquired for Fitzwilliam Museum

Documentation and Artwork, 1972-1985 by Cuban-American Artist Ana Mendieta at Galerie Lelong

Iwo Jima Mementos, a Faded Photograph and Child's Drawing, Bring Closure to Japanese Family

Christie's Sales of Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art to Offer an Impressive Array of Rare and Important Works

Oakland Museum of California Acquires Historic "All of Us or None" Poster Collection

Two 150-Year-Old Civil War Dolls Get X-Rayed at VCU Medical Center for Signs of Smuggling

Baltimore Nuns Auctioning Famous Baseball Card to Raise Money for Diocese

Kunsthaus Zürich Embarks on Ambitious Restoration Project on the Work of Alberto Giacometti

Irma Stern Makes New £2.4 Million World Record for South African Art at Bonhams in London

Harn Museum of Art Creates New Position to Increase Collaborations with University of Florida Faculty and Students

The U.S. Department of State and the Bronx Museum of the Arts Announce International Community-Based Visual Arts Program

Children's Spontaneity "Wiped Out by Teaching" Claimed Beatrix Potter in Forthright Letters for Sale at Bonhams

SFMOMA Debuts a New Body of Work by R. H. Quaytman

Leslie Hewitt Awarded 2010 Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize

Sylvia Sleigh, Prominent Painter, Dies at Age 94, Seminal Work On View at the Hudson River Museum

Tate Launches The Muybridgizer App for iPhone, Free for the Duration of the Exhibition

Exceptionally Rare Darth Vader Costume to Be Offered at Christie's South Kensington

Audit Shows Records at National Archives in Washington at Risk of being Lost for Good

Saatchi Gallery Opens Second Installment of Museum-Scale Survey of Emergent British Contemporary Art

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa Wants Yale University to Return Artifacts to Peru

The Hayward Gallery Presents Seminal Works by Leading Artists in Move: Choreographing You

Special Exhibition Reconsiders John La Farge's Contributions to American Art in Centenary Year of Artist's Death

Successful Anniversary Year Boosts Meijer Gardens Attendance and Membership

Rudy Giuliani's New York City Hall Portrait, Painted by Everett Raymond Kinstler, is Unveiled

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Colossal statue of Amenhotep III unveiled on the west bank of the Nile in Egypt

2.- British royals crown New York visit with gala dinner

3.- Missing artwork rediscovered in "Stuart Little" sells for over 200,000 euros at auction

4.- Rossetti's Venus Verticordia soars at Sotheby's in London to sell for £2.88 million

5.- Russian magnate buys, then returns Nobel prize to American geneticist James Watson

6.- Egyptian Museum unveils four newly renovated halls of the famed Tutankhamun gallery

7.- 'The Secret of Dresden: From Rembrandt to Canaletto' on view at the Groninger Museum

8.- Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum reopens after three-year renovation

9.- More than 200 queries about works by possible heirs received on Nazi-era art hoard

10.- Attorney, artist and filmmaker reflects on the seven lessons learned at 2014 Art Basel Miami Beach



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site