Biographical / Historical
Several pieces of federal legislation concerning archeological sites were adopted during the 1960s and 1970s. These included the Historical Preservation Act of 1966, National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Archeological and Historical Preservation Act of 1974, and the Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979. In addition, the president issued Executive Order 11593, dated May 13, 1971, insuring that federal agencies would record, preserve, and maintain cultural materials found on federal lands. In spite of these efforts, growing criticism developed among archeologists that the laws were not working well. A particular problem involved the New Melones Dam in California, a project whose start virtually coincided with the act of 1966. In May 1979, because of growing concern, the chairman of the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs requested the General Accounting Office (GAO) to conduct an investigation into whether archeological resources were being adequately protected, how well the lasws were working, where problems existed, and approaches to resolving problems. Requested was a specific report on the New Melones project and, in addition, a report on the general problem.
To carry out the investigation, a team was formed with GAO personnel of the Washington (D.C.), San Francisco, Denver, and Atlanta offices, with each office assigned specific responsibilities. Archeologist Charles R. McGimsey III served as consultant.
Most of the New Melones investigation was carried out of the San Franciso office. The general investigation involved the examination of the operations of historic preservation offices of the states of California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Georgia and some state's water and transportation authorities. In addition, insofar as they were involved in archeology, there were exmainations into federal agencies and projects including the Bureau of Land Management, Water and Power Resource Service, Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation, Corps of Engineers, Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Soil Conservation Service, Advisory Council on Preservation, Interagency Archeological Service, National Technical Information Service, Tennesse Valley Tellico Porject, and the National Register. Many federal archeologist and leaders of nonfederal archeological organizations were interviewed in connection with this investigation.