Formed in 1981, the Presidency Research Group represents some 430 professional scholars specializing in the study of the presidency. Its membership crosses disciplines, including history, communications, and economics, but its primary base of membership is among political scientists. The PRG has a long-standing professional interest in the activities of the National Archives. And as regular users of the Archives, we are concerned with its leadership. The members of our organization have given substantial thought to the issues to be dealt with by the Archivist of the United States and to the nomination of Governor John Carlin to fill that position. In addition, the Presidency Research Group is an active sponsor in PRESIDENT, a public/private partnership working to bring the materials of the presidential libraries system onto the Internet. As such, the Presidency Research Group has both a philosophical and pragmatic interest in the conduct of the National Archives and in the selection of its director, the Archivist of the United States.
In February, with the position of Archivist still to be nominated, the officers and board members of the Presidency Research Group developed and refined resolutions to underscore the importance of selecting a person with suitable experience for the position. We believe such experience includes: managing a large government executive or large private organization, promoting the proper treatment of government records, direct familiarity with both legislators and chief executives, understanding of the National Archives and Records Administration operations and its scholarly research role, and a proven record suggesting such a person would administer the Archives in a nonpartisan manner. In addition, we outlined public policy areas of particular concern to us, including the development of electronic access to governmental records and expanded participation by users on advisory boards considering policies of accessing information. These resolutions were used to develop interview questions to direct to candidates for the Archivist position. Two of our officers, Professors Terry Sullivan and Martha Kumar, interviewed Governor Carlin and reported back to the membership. An electronic cross-country dialog continued with the purpose of applying the consensual resolutions to the consideration of Governor Carlin, who by that time was the President's nominee.
At the conclusion of an intensive exchange of views, the board members determined that Governor Carlin has a background suitable to be Archivist of the United States.