The rumors about White House plans to replace archivist Robert M. Warner with former arms negotiator Richard F. Staar have been put to rest for the moment with Staar's return to his post as associate director of Stanford University's Hoover Institution for War, Revolution and Peace.
The rumors prompted a spate of protests from groups like the American Historical Association and the National Archives Advisory Council, which expressed concern that a traditionally scholarly, nonpolitical job would be politicized.
Among those who should be relieved by the decision are Warner and Gerald P. Carmen, adminstrator of the Archives' parent agency, the General Services Administration. One source suggested that Carmen, a New Hampshire organizer for the 1980 Reagan election campaign, might be relieved not to have a subordinate whose ties to the White House were as good as Carmen's. INDEPENDENCE . . . With the question of who's running the store put to rest, the ever-simmering issue of the Archives' independence continues to bubble. The Archives was established as an independent agency in 1934, but 15 years later, thanks to the recommendations of a panel reviewing governmental efficiency, it became part of the GSA.
This week Sens. Thomas F. Eagleton (D-Mo.) and Charles McC. Mathias Jr. (R-Md.) once again proposed legislation (co-sponsored by 13 other senators) to establish an independent National Archives and Records Administration. "We seek to deal with a long-standing, institutional problem," Eagleton said in a statement. " . . . In my judgment, however, the chronic problems...have reached crisis proportions in the past two years because of the damage inflicted . . . by deep and indiscriminate budget cuts."
While the senators try again to cut the Archives loose, an eight-member task force appointed by Carmen is conducting a comparative study of the organization and operations of the Archives and the quasi-governmental Smithsonian Institution.
Acting deputy archivist George N. Scaboo, who heads the study team, said a few weeks ago that the study was being conducted "with an eye toward the possibility that the Archives could have more autonomy within GSA."
As a quasi-governmental agency, the Smithsonian is controlled by trustees who select chief administrators and supervise private donations. The Archives does neither. Carmen said recently that he is not convinced that the Archives should be independent of GSA. "Let's see what they Scaboo's group come up with," he said. The group has not finished writing its report. DECLASSIFIED . . . The task force of 25 archivists reviewing and declassifying State Department records of the early 1950s has released several large batches of documents, covering U.S. relations with Central America (including the 1954 Guatemalan uprising that unseated a leftist government), Korea, Southeast Asia and Japan. The documents are in the custody of the Legislative and Diplomatic Branch. Not yet available are the records dealing with the Middle East, the Soviet Union and Iran, which had its own counterrevolution in 1953.
Aside from the State Department project, which is largely funded by State, declassification efforts still move far more slowly than before, due to staff cutbacks. In fiscal 1981 the Archives reviewed 14.2 million pages of classified documents and declassified 13.7 million. In fiscal 1982, 3.8 million classified pages were reviewed (most in response to direct requests under the Freedom of Information Act) and 3.4 million were opened to public scrutiny.