Authority and Responsibilities

The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation was established by Public law 102-138, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993, signed by President Bush on October 28, 1991. Section 198 of P.L. 102-138 added a new Title IV to the Department of State's Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 USC 4351, et seq.). The statute sets the membership of the Committee at nine members drawn from among historians, political scientists, archivists, international lawyers, and other social scientists who are distinguished in the field of U.S. foreign relations. Six members represent the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the American Political Science Association, the Society of American Archivists, the American Society of International Law, and the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations; there are also three "at large" members. The members are granted all necessary security clearances. The legislation requires that the Committee meet four times a year. The Historian of the State Department serves as executive secretary of the Committee.

The Advisory Committee reviews records, advises, and makes recommendations to the Office of the Historian, Foreign Service Institute, concerning the Foreign Relations of the United States documentary series. The Committee monitors the overall compilation and editorial process of the series and advises on all aspects of the preparation and declassification of the series. Although the Committee does not review the contents of individual volumes, it does monitor the overall process and makes recommendations on particular problems that are brought to its attention.

The Committee also reviews the declassification procedures of the Department of State, all guidelines used in the declassification process, and, by random sampling, documents representative of all Department of State records that remain classified after 30 years. The Committee is required to submit an annual report to the Secretary of State setting forth its findings from this review.

If you are interested in attending a meeting of the Historical Advisory Committee, please email