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Government Affairs Update

Donald Forsyth Craib

Forum at Annual Meeting--The Government Affairs Committee is sponsoring a forum Friday, April 12 "Washington Politics and Archaeology: What The Heck Is Going on and What Can We Do about It?" The session will include an overview of archaeology and politics, a review of current political events and the effects on archaeology, and the role of SAA and its members in the national historic preservation political strategy. The speakers have extensive and varied experience in government affairs; they will review the legislative and regulatory processes and discuss how to be an effective advocate for archaeology. A packet of information will be provided summarizing key political information, contacts for all members of Congress, and examples of effective communication methods.

Government Affairs on SAAweb--Information about the SAA government affairs program and committee can now be found on SAAweb (http://www.saa.org). This site will provide updates on legislative and regulatory issues, information about the Government Affairs Committee, a form to join the Government Affairs Network, a piece on lobbying and advocacy techniques, and links to government and political news sites. If you have any suggestions for improving the site, please contact me.

Looting during Government Shutdown--SAA sent a letter to National Park Service Director Roger Kennedy after learning that during the November government shutdown, extensive looting occurred at a historic archaeological site resulting in serious damage. While it was no doubt difficult to protect archaeological resources adequately during the shutdown, SAA wrote, the reduction in funding severely compromised the NPS's legal mandate to protect cultural resources. SAA urged NPS to adopt shutdown procedures that would ensure adequate staffing of parks in order to meet the agency's statutory obligation and protect archaeological resources.

Letter to Speaker Gingrich--SAA President Bill Lipe fired off a letter to the Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich protesting the use of federal government employees as hostages in a partisan political contest between congressional Republicans and the Clinton administration. Lipe stated that "a number of the members of the Society for American Archaeology are employed by federal agencies....They are hard-working public servants who have dedicated their careers to helping preserve and interpret this nation's archaeology and history. They do not wish to be idled, even with pay, while the work they care about piles up. They do not deserve to be treated with the contempt that the continued shutdown implies." He summed up by urging the Speaker to "live up to the responsibilities of your leadership position and bring about an immediate reopening of the government."

Presidents Meet at Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) Meeting--Bill Lipe along with Donna Seifert (past-president, SHA) and Steve Dyson (president, Archaeological Institute of America) met during the SHA's annual meeting in January to discuss issues of mutual concern. One prioritized issue was government affairs and how the three organizations could work together to further the agenda of the profession. The three presidents decided to meet this spring along with their respective government affairs chairs in Washington, D.C., to discuss legislative and regulatory issues of importance to the archaeological community and to meet with legislators, officials from the administration, and colleagues in the historic preservation community. Further opportunities to cooperate in government affairs are being explored.

Lawyers Meeting in New Orleans--Several members who are lawyers have asked how they can contribute to the efforts of the society and archaeology. As a result of this interest, I am holding a meeting in New Orleans with those member/lawyers who might be interested in forming an advisory group. If you would like to participate, please contact me at SAA headquarters.

Government Affairs Network--SAA continues its efforts to expand and broaden member participation in its government affairs program. One effective way that you can become involved in this effort is by joining the Government Affairs Network (GAN). By participating in GAN, you become an advocate for archaeology and cultural resource preservation by communicating directly with your elected representatives in Washington, D.C. The continued success of the program depends on your involvement! If you would like a GAN membership form, please write to me or you can locate a copy on the government affairs page on SAAweb. You can reach me at SAA headquarters: 900 Second St., NE #12, Washington, D.C. 20002-3557, (202) 789-8200, fax (202) 789-0284, email donald_craib@saa.org.

NSF Update--The government shutdown in December and January has not had a major impact on the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Archaeology Program, according to NSF staff. While the shutdown has caused slight delays in the review process, the overall effect is not that serious. NSF's funding under the current continuing resolution is at a level that will not have major impacts on awards.

Donald Forsyth Craib is manager of government affairs and counsel of SAA.


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