The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today voted 8-4 to favorably report Colleen Shogan’s nomination to the full Senate to be the eleventh archivist for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Shogan’s nomination was previously deadlocked in the panel when the committee members voted 7-7 in September of last year – blocking Shogan’s progress to become the first permanent woman archivist for NARA.

President Biden hit the refresh button on her nomination in January, sending Shogan to another battling confirmation hearing before the committee late last month.

Republican senators expressed many of the same concerns in Shogan’s second confirmation hearing as they did in the first, which was held in September 2022.

The committee members continued to shower Shogan with concern about her “partisan views,” citing a requirement that the head of NARA must be appointed without regard to political affiliations and solely based on the professional qualifications required to perform the duties of the position.

During the hearings, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed agitation over the sheer number of the outstanding backlog of veterans’ records – to the tune of over 600,000 requests at its peak.

“I will have many hills to climb in this position,” Shogan said during her first confirmation hearing in September.

“NARA must do [its job] as technologies improve at a lightning speed,” she continued, adding, “Government is not always considered nimble when it comes to innovation, but the National Archives can serve as a leader in its transition to a primarily digital future.”

NARA has been without a permanent archivist since May 2022, when the tenth archivist of the U.S. – David Ferriero – retired and Debra Steidel Wall stepped up on an acting basis.

Panel Votes 8-4 for Merit Systems Protection Board Chair

In other legislative action today, the committee voted 8-4 to refer the nomination of Cathy Harris as chair of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to the full Senate.

Harris was confirmed by a 48-46 Senate vote as a member on the MSPB and was sworn in in June of last year. Biden designated her as the acting chair until the Senate confirms her as the permanent chair of the board.

Her confirmation as a member to MSPB last year marked the first time in over seven years that MSPB has had a full complement of three board members.

The MSPB is an independent, quasi-judicial agency in the executive branch that serves as the guardian of Federal merit systems to protect against partisan political and other prohibited personnel practices.

The board lacked a quorum since 2017 – and was completely devoid of members from March 2019 to March 2022 – which led to a considerable backlog of cases for the board to consider.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.