Following Pressure from Senator Murray & Local Tribes, OMB Withdraws Planned Closure of Seattle Archives

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), applauded the decision by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to withdraw approval of the sale of the Federal Archives and Records Center in Seattle. The decision comes after months of opposition and action from Senator Murray, other Northwest lawmakers, local Tribes, and stakeholders from across the Pacific Northwest.

“While this process never should have begun in the first place without Tribal and local consultation, I’m glad that OMB has listened to local Tribes and reversed their decision to approve the sale of the Seattle Archive building,” Senator Murray said. “I want to thank everyone who made their voice heard throughout this process, and be clear I will continue working to ensure the generations of artifacts and history stored in the Seattle facility will remain accessible to stakeholders across the Pacific Northwest.”

Since the announcement last year that the OMB had accepted a recommendation from the Public Buildings Reform Board (PBRB) to close the NARA facility in Seattle and relocate its contents, Senator Murray has been vocal in her support of efforts to maintain local and regional access to Seattle’s Federal Archives, and in her opposition to the opaque process to close the facility.

In March, Senator Murray introduced the ARCHIVES Act, which would amend the Federal Assets Sale Transfer Act (FASTA) to add a requirement that properties cannot be sold or transferred unless the relevant agency has consulted with all affected Tribal governments if the sale would harm access to federal agency services by a federally recognized Tribe. This targeted legislation would only affect facilities that provide services to Tribal members, such as the federal archives facility in Seattle. Also in March, Senator Murray sent a letter to OMB requesting that they take immediate action to reverse their prior approval of the sale of the NARA facility in Seattle. Senator Murray has also previously secured important provisions related to maintaining access to records through the federal appropriations process.

The Federal Archives and Records Center in Seattle houses records from Washington state, Alaska, Oregon, and Idaho, as well as tribes throughout the Pacific Northwest, that are vital to agencies, universities, researchers, scientists, tribal members, and students. The facility is also open to the public during the week for archival research.