FAS Note: The following statement was issued in May 2007 by LANS and UC officials in response to press inquiries about researcher access to the Los Alamos National Laboratory archives.
"The misunderstanding about access to LANL archival materials stemmed from
the fact that the California Public Records Act (CPRA) no longer applied
to the lab. There were questions about how this change regarding CPRA would
affect the archives. It turns out the change doesnąt affect the archives.
The misunderstanding has been cleared up and the practices for requesting
approved for public release materials have reverted back to those in
practice for many years. University leadership engaged with the
laboratory to ensure that this misunderstanding was cleared up."
Response to Query
Reviewed - Approved by John Birely, Christine Chandler, and Roger Meade.
Q1: Has policy regarding the release of materials from the Archives
changed since LANS took over?
A1: There has been a lot of confusion and misunderstanding on this matter.
In terms of policy, the change occurred in September of 2006 when
Laboratory management reviewed and then removed a policy that essentially
implemented the California Public Records Act (CPRA) realizing that
because LANS is not a California Public Entity, CPRA no longer applies.
Q2: So is that why the Archives has blocked access to researchers?
A2: The archive has not blocked research. The actual practices at the
archives have not changed substantially due to this situation with CPRA.
The archive is not a lending library, it is a primarily a repository for
classified legacy materials.
For many years the practice at the
archives for dealing with requests for materials that clearly have a
classification issue, requires the use of the Freedom of Information Act -
this was the case with the recent Wellerstein request. However, the
archives does hold a small number of archived items that are clearly
marked "Approved for Public Release" and the practice is now and has been to go
ahead and release that material, unless there are mitigating
Q3: So, if a researcher requests something classified, FOIA is now
A3: When anyone requests something from the archives that has a
classification issue, FOIA has always been required - there is nothing new
Q4: So, can a researcher get anything from your archives without going
A4: Yes, items clearly marked "Approved for Public Release" may be
released by the Lab archives without a FOIA request - this, too, is not new and has