n.a record of an agency of the federal government of the United States of America exclusive of the Office of the PresidentWeir 1979, 244Two new laws will substantially affect the National Archives and Records Service. One, the Presidential Records Act of 1978, creates a new category of federal records: presidential records. The act includes the following seven sections: definitions, ownership, management and custody, restrictions on access, exceptions to restrictions, regulations, and vice-presidential records.Peterson 1982, 199In addition to personal papers, some federal records are deposited in Presidential libraries, most frequently those of shortlived Presidential committees, commissions, and boards, which are part of a NARS collective record group. These records are deposited in a Presidential library when the commission has been appointed by the President; when it has not spanned more than one Presidential administration; if it is not closely connected with an ongoing federal agency; and if the records are closely related for research purposes to other materials in the library.Bradsher 1985, 1The acts of Congress of 1789 that created the executive departments of the federal government provided for the keeping of records pertaining to their functions, but they did not provide for the disposition of those records. By an act on 26 February 1853, Congress made it a felony to destroy a federal record.Peterson 1986, 132The amendments put teeth into the FOIA, and the National Archives, like all agencies in the executive branch of the government, had to issue procedural guidelines to its staff on how to handle access requests. This led the National Archives to formalize the process of restriction and review of federal records.Montgomery 1993, 609, fn. 87The computer tapes, albeit classified, are also presumed to contain highly significant information concerning the role of the White House in making billions of dollars [sic] worth of loans to Saddam Hussein prior to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The National Archives supported the government’s position by officially stating that electronic mail computer tapes were not federal records.Bearman 1993a, 677The government argued that any records created by anyone who serves in an advisory capacity to the president at any time are thus presidential records, whereas the plaintiffs successfully argued a narrow interpretation which in effect allows only the specific records created solely for briefing the president to be considered presidential, and then only if they are not previously or subsequently distributed as federal records. The expression used by the court was that federal records “trump” presidential records.Bian and Jakeman 2000, 32This centralized system of archival administration contrasts sharply with the fragmented archival arrangements found in the United States, where the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has responsibility for federal records but has no formal jurisdiction over the records of state and local governments.Montgomery 2003, 115, fn. 38If the NSC or other agencies attempted to withhold records by categorizing them as “presidential” or by invoking an exemption under FOIA, the statute permits the courts to intervene to inspect an agency’s records to determine whether they are being withheld improperly. Under this provision, the courts would need to decide which records constituted federal records under FOIA and FRA and which records comprised presidential records under the PRA.Gorzalski 2015, 1In 1941, The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) formulated the record group as the method for organizing the voluminous amount of federal records collected since the agency’s 1934 inception.O’Neal 2015, 9Accordingly, during the restoration era, in a quest to assert and reclaim their sovereignty, tribal community activists and leaders sought to gather federal records that documented Native American history. Since the federal government’s establishment and collection of these archival records is considered part of colonialism, the act of Native Americans gathering and repurposing these records for their benefit is indeed an act of decolonization.
The Federal Records Act (FRA, 44 USC 3301) and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) both define records in a federal agency context. In FRA, records are defined as “all books, papers, maps, photographs, machine-readable materials, or other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by an agency of the United States Government under Federal law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation by that agency or its legitimate successor as evidence of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the Government or because of the informational value of the data in them.”