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 circumstances.

Q3: So, if a researcher requests something classified, FOIA is now required?

A3: When anyone requests something from the archives that has a classification issue, FOIA has always been required - there is nothing new about that.

Q4: So, can a researcher get anything from your archives without going through FOIA?

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 not changed.