Chairs Maloney and Connolly Urge National Archives to Pause Effort to Privatize the George W. Bush Presidential Library

Jul 1, 2022
Press Release
A Proposed Agreement Would Cede Ownership and Control of the Bush Museum to the Privately-Run Bush Foundation

Washington, D.C. (July 1, 2022)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, sent a letter to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) requesting a pause on its proposal to revert ownership and control of the Bush Presidential Museum and educational spaces within the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum to the privately-run Bush Foundation.  The Committee requested the pause to continue congressional review of the proposed agreement, a potentially precedent-setting policy change for NARA.

  

“[T]he Committee requests that NARA pause any official action to implement the proposed changes to the agreements between NARA and the Bush Foundation,” wrote the Chairs.  “This pause will allow the Committee the opportunity to fully review the proposed changes and obtain input from stakeholders and the broader historical community to help the Committee more fully determine the impact of this potentially precedent-setting change.  This pause would also be an opportunity to evaluate the sustainability, missions, and funding arrangements of NARA and presidential libraries.”

 

On April 28, 2022, then-Archivist of the United States David Ferriero notified Congress of a new memorandum of understanding between NARA and the Bush Foundation.  According to the terms of the new agreement, NARA would cede ownership of the Bush Museum and educational spaces within the library and revert more than $4,500,000 of endowment funds to the privately-run Bush Foundation.  The new agreement specifies that the Bush Foundation would assume control over curation and programming for the Museum and education spaces, but it does not specify how curatorial disputes with NARA would be addressed. 

 

On June 16, 2022, NARA’s Chief Operating Officer and Director of Congressional Affairs briefed bipartisan Committee staff on the decision to initiate the revised agreement with the Bush Foundation.  

 

Several members of the historical community, including former presidential library directors, university professors, and non-profit leaders have expressed concern to the Committee regarding the proposal.  Tim Naftali, former Director of the Nixon Library, has publicly criticized the plan for enabling the Bush Foundation to present or omit information, artifacts, and documents in a light disproportionately favorable to the former president.  Professors from the University of Maryland at College Park’s College Information Studies articulated their concerns with the proposal in a letter to Chairwoman Maloney and Senator Gary Peters, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Click here to read the letter. 

 

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117th Congress