Senate Finance Committee 10 February 2016 Hearing


On February 10, 2016, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen appeared before the Senate Finance Committee to address “The President’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget.  The record of that hearing is found at:

In response to the Committee’s invitation to do so, the following Statement for the Record was submitted on behalf of The Federation of Genealogical Societies. FGS Statement for Record SFC Hearing 10 Feb 2016 Final2

In commending the IRS for the effectiveness of the filters they have developed in an effort to thwart tax fraud by identity theft, perhaps the major point is that by so doing the IRS had already accomplished any possible benefit that might have been accomplished by the limitations on access to and content of the Death Master File provided by Section 203 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 even before it was signed in late December 2013.  All that remained was the burden placed upon legitimate users of this resource.

Executive Summary

“We add our commendations to those offered in the opening statement by Chairman Hatch by noting that the IRS has dramatically improved its ability to intercept tax fraud by identity theft (especially those using the SSNs of deceased individuals.) We ask Senators to revisit the wisdom of limiting access to and the content of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File. While commending the work of the Department of Commerce in crafting regulations implementing Section 203 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, as written, we suggest areas where changes in legislative language might enhance the ability to (1) achieve the stated goal of reducing the opportunities for identity theft, and (2) minimize the unintended adverse consequences of limiting access and content available to legitimate users. Further question whether these provisions belong in permanent legislation and suggest ways of assessing their effectiveness and the impact of more targeted measures. Preliminary results of an ongoing case study are presented.”


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Action needed for the Preserving the American Historical Record Act

Congressmen Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Chris Cannon (R-UT) have issued a “dear colleagues” letter to the members of the House of Representatives, inviting them to sign on as original sponsors to the “Preserving the American Historical Record” (PAHR) bill.

PAHR proposed to increase federal support for state and local archival records held by government agencies, historical societies, libraries, and related organizations. This initiative would establish a program of formula-based grants to states for re-grants and statewide services to support preservations and use of historical records. The program, to be administered by the National Archives, will provide a total of $50 million per year nationwide. Each state would receive a portion of these funds for redistribution to organizations within its borders. This program would be in addition to the existing national grants program within the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

How can you help?

Contact your Representative in Congress and urge them to sign on as an original sponsor of PAHR. Write a few sentences telling him or her how PAHR would help his or her constituents — you! (Tell them how vital it is to have records preserved and available to the public.) Also, spread the word about this action alert!

Time is critical. Deadline for action is Saturday, May 10.

Faxing your Representative is the preferred method of communication. The Humanities Advocacy Network maintains a website with all of the contact information for legislators:

Further information about PAHR, including the bill, background information, and the amount of funding for each state can be found at:

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Draft of NARA Digitizing Plan

From Jenny Heaps at NARA:

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is seeking public comment on its draft Plan for Digitizing Archival Materials for Public Access, 2007-2016. This draft plan outlines our planned strategies to digitize and make more accessible the historic holdings from the National Archives of the United States.

The plan can be found at:

Comments due: November 9, 2007

Send comments to: or by fax to 301-837-0319.

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NARA fee increases to go into effect

From the August 17, 2007 Federal Register:

“NARA [National Archives and Records Administration] is revising its fees for reproduction of records and other materials in the custody of the Archivist of the United States. This rule covers reproduction of Federal records created by other agencies that are in the National Archives of the United States, donated historical materials, Presidential records, Nixon Presidential historical materials, and records filed with the Office of the Federal Register. The fees are being changed to reflect current costs of providing the reproductions. This rule will affect the public and Federal agencies.”

Effective Date: October 1, 2007

The new fees will be:

Passenger arrival lists (NATF Form 81) – $25.00
Federal Census requests (NATF Form 82) – $25.00
Eastern Cherokee applications to the Court of Claims (NATF Form 83) – $25.00
Land entry records (NATF Form 84) – $40.00
Full pension file more than 75 years old (Civil War and after), up to and including 100
pages (NATF Form 85) – $75.00
Full pension file (pre-Civil War) (NATF Form 85) – $50.00
Pension documents packet (selected records) (NATF Form 85) – $25.00
Bounty land warrant application files (NATF Form 85) – $25.00
Military service files more than 75 years old (NATF Form 86) – $25.00

[NOTE: the fee for the full pension more than 75 years old (Civil War and after) ended up being $75, rather than the $125 which NARA had previously proposed. Genealogists working together can get results!]

Photocopy fees will be:

Paper-to-paper copy made by the customer on a NARA self-service copier in the Washington, DC area – $0.25
Paper-to-paper copy made by the customer on a NARA self-service copier outside the Washington, DC, area (regional archives and Presidential libraries) – $0.20
Paper-to-paper copy made by NARA – $0.75
Paper-to-paper copy made by NARA for full Civil War pension files (NATF Form 85) beyond the first 100 pages – $0.65
Microfilm-to-paper copy made by the customer on a NARA self-service copier – $0.50

The full edition of the entry in the Federal Register can be viewed here.

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