by Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse, Jr., State Archivist
February 5, 2001
on the Proposed Budget for the Maryland State Archives for FY 2003
Madam Chairman, Members of the Committee:
My name is Dr. Edward C. Papenfuse, Archivist of the State of Maryland. With me this afternoon is Chris Allan, Deputy Archivist, and Van Lewis, Director of Fiscal Administration.
Let me begin by thanking Jim Stoops for such a favorable review of the past accomplishments of our program, and such a knowledgeable presentation of our budget. I must say, however, given the praise, we are bewildered as to how we can continue to do as well in FY 2003 with the substantive cuts he has recommended. These reduce the Archives budget by $460,000, of which over $232,000 are General Funds, and does considerable permanent harm to an agency that has already undertaken cost containment measures mandated by Budget and Management. I hope the Committee will carefully consider the effect of the budget analyst's recommendations on the Archives, and not concur in all but one of his recommendations. Permit me to begin with a brief summary of our mission, provide an overview of the principal budget issues as we see them for FY 2003, and then conclude with a summary, point by point, of the reasons why we feel you should not concur in Mr. Stoops recommendations.
The principal goal and the main mission of the Archives is to protect and make accessible Maryland's rich, yet fragile, archival heritage. By having a strong, responsible, Archival program, the state is able to preserve a wide range of priceless documents for the 1.3 million visitors who are now availing themselves of archival information and documentation in person and on-line at http://www.mdsa.net. In addition to the literally hundreds of thousands of fragile oversized documents relating to land ownership in Maryland that we have preserved electronically and made available on the web over the last year, and which you can find at http://www.plats.net (user name: plato; password: plato#), I have brought along some recent examples of priceless documents that we have helped preserve or that have been given to us because we have such a strong, cost-effective, archival program. Included with these remarks are: a hitherto overlooked Lincoln Pardon of an African American sailor, a significant letter from the era of the War of 1812, an important document on Religious Toleration that we don't own, but should, and, as a result of a research trip you supported in last year's budget, the original official charter language in English (1632), unequivocally placing the whole of the waters of the Potomac River within the bounds of Maryland. To say that we have accomplished a near Revolution in the field of electronically available archives, is probably a modest understatement. I have attached an article that I wrote for a scholarly journal on just one of our vital web-based services that we provide, the Archives of Maryland On-Line, http://aomol.net, a service that is intended to contain the most basic and most important aspects of our documentary heritage in a permanent, electronically accessible form. A similar project that is endangered by the recommended reductions in both General and Special Funds for FY 2003 is our on-line "Who Are Your Elected Officials" which we intended to enhance this year in a cooperative project with the State Election Board and the Motor Vehicle Administration. We are poised to place all redistricting and voter registration information on-line so that people can actually determine who represents them, in what legislative district they reside, whether or not anyone is registered to vote at their address, where their polling place is, and how to get registered to vote, if they are not. By cutting the funds needed to refurbish and maintain our electronic archives, such vital projects as this are placed on hold at a time when they are most needed, meaning specifically this fall for the election.
The proposed reductions are substantial. The general fund appropriation for FY 2001 which included funds for the Maryland Manual amounted to $2,783,889. The effect of the analyst's recommended general fund reductions would be to leave us $46,000 less in General Funds than existed in FY 2001 ($2,727,696). You will note that the FY 2003 allowance has already been reduced by $156,000 as the result of cost containment measures of the Governor as implemented by Budget and Management. It is also unclear why any reductions are recommended in Special Funds which are earned by the Archives and applied to the specific purposes outlined in the budget. For the first time this year, at the request of Budget and Management we included all of our projected expenditures in Special Funds in advance of our attaining the revenue to pay for them, hence the apparent increase. We did so as a means of indicating just what we thought we could accomplish over the year. By cutting these funds from the budget, we assume that you intend for us to submit budget amendments authorizing the expenditures at the time of revenue attainment, rather than cutting out altogether the functions represented by those requested Special Fund Appropriations. We think it more prudent to budget in advance, rather than wait to the end of the fiscal year to ask for the authority to spend the Special Funds we earn, but we are amenable to doing it either way.
The reduction in replacement and new equipment proposed will not leave the Archives with sufficient funds to pay the Treasurer's Office for equipment it already is acquiring through the master lease program. It will not be possible to replace servers that will be four years old by the time FY 2003 arrives. Servers, as a rule and especially if they are Microsoft NT servers, do not last more than four years. The program measurement data that appears on page 7 of the budget analysis indicates that between FY 1999 and FY 2001 we had a 195 percent increase in the number of files that we had placed on-line. In FY 1999 we had just over 100,000 files accessible to the public on-line. Today, there are 2,018,000 files available for public reference at the Archive's Internet sites.
The reduction in funds for new equipment will require the Archives to defer the acquisition of storage devices which only means the endangerment of vital electronic data, somewhat akin to spending the principal of a trust fund. In July, there were 190 Gb of data on our public site. This morning, there were 438 Gb on the storage arrays accessible from the Internet. We are adding material at the rate of 35 GB per month, almost 2 GB every working day. By the end of this fiscal year, over 648 Gb of data will have been acquired which will mean we are going to run out of electronic storage two months into FY 2003. The proposed reduction will mean that much of the 420 Gb of data that we expect to acquire in the course of the next year will have to reside on tape storage devices, inaccessible to the public. It means that additions to survey records on plats.net and to the public documents found at the Archives of Maryland On-line will be on hold for almost a year. It means that any future projects we come up with to make the public record accessible through cooperative arrangements with other state agencies will have to be deferred, endangering the security of the permanent record data that those agencies are now creating only in electronic form.
With regard to the telecommunications upgrade we have proposed, the growth in access to the sites that the Archives hosts and the growth in traffic from government agencies that utilize our circuits for Internet access have doubled in each of the last four years. It would be prudent to anticipate this trend. The special fund allowance gives us the opportunity to find the monies to make this improvement at no cost to the General Fund.
To place the Governor's allowance in perspective, the General Fund request for replacement and new information technology equipment for FY 2003, $106,000, is an increase of $40,000 over the FY 2002 appropriation of $66,000. In each instance, the request is substantially less than the FY 2001 appropriation of $189,000. The proposed reduction of $96,000 leaves the Archives with roughly $10,000 in General Funds. This level of funding is insufficient to sustain a program that by all measures is a resounding success.
To concur in the legislative analyst's recommendations with regard to replacement electronic equipment, electronic storage devices, telecommunication upgrades, and new equipment to handle the burgeoning electronic archives of which we are only able to preserve a small fraction as it is, is not prudent, and can lead to substantive information failure in the near future. The question before you is an old one posited by Benjamin Franklin: by cutting these modest requests, are we being penny wise and pound foolish? I hope you will agree that we are.
The Archives is required by State Government Article 9-1026 to compile and edit the Maryland Manual every two years. We have, as the analyst indicates, moved this whole operation onto the web and it is updated daily. If funds are not available for the printing of the Manual, than it will not be printed. If in the judgment of this Committee, this is acceptable, than we will abide by your decision, urging you to at least recommend that sufficient funds be provided in a future budget during the next legislature that would permit us to print at least one slice in time, printed record copy, of the Maryland Manual similar to the one we produced last year.
Finally, the proposed reductions in the budget for staff and activities relating to the Commission to Coordinate the Study, Commemoration, and Impact of Slavery's History and Legacy in Maryland will effectively end the program we have at the Archives to support the work of this commission. The reduction will mean the loss of funds to pay for the employee we hired in October and who is carrying on a splendid program of documenting the history of slavery and its aftermath in our state. No other state has such a necessary and vital program designed to help us better understand one of the most formative aspects of our Nation's history, the unexplored heritage and consequences of which abides with us still. This request contains no more than the annualization of the FY 2002 appropriation for salary costs (you only gave us a partial year's salary last year). I would respectfully request that you not concur in the analyst's recommendation.
In summary then, permit me to respond specifically to each of the recommended cuts in the order in which the analyst has presented them with a recap of why we suggest you not concur:
1) $51,656 GF, $21,521 SF. We ask that you not concur on the grounds that deferral means loss of workstations essential to the generation of Special Funds. In a production mode, computer equipment simply does not survive more than three years of constant use. Even the best of hard drives begin to fail after three years of constant use.
2) $45,096 GF, $53,663 SF. We ask that you not concur on the grounds that this is the minimal equipment needs to maintain proper electronic archival storage and access for the minimum electronic holdings predicted for FY 2003.
3) $62,000 SF. We ask that you not concur. These are Special Funds (we believe and wish they were General Funds) that we earn for the purposes of meeting the communication demands of our constituents in government (you and your staff included) as well as the general public.
4) $61,000 GF. We ask that you consider whether or not your really want to deny the next Legislature a hard copy of the Maryland Manual in the first two years of its term. If you decide to cut this request, we respectfully ask that you make it matter of record that you expect to have a similar request in time to at least produce an edition by the end of the term in accord with the intent of the law.
5) $30,000 SF. We concur. These are all Special Funds that are generated by the sales of existing stock.
6) $74,635 GF, $60,404 SF. We ask that you not concur. The General Fund cut would abolish the existing resources, including one filled research position, of the Slavery Commission, a legislative initiative supported by the Governor. The Special Funds are earned income allocated to a wide range of research projects at the Archives and represent in large measure gifts and matching grants for specific research purposes.
If you can see your way clear in these difficult budget times to not cut the Archives budget any further than what we have agreed to above and what has already been done to us by Budget and Management, you will be providing us with a maintenance only budget that in reality contains 0% real growth, yet provides us with sufficient staff to continue to seek alternative sources of funding (Special Funds) to address those vital archival issues for which there are no General Funds available.
I will be happy to answer any questions.