The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

Shaping National Preservation Policy

National Policy

Promoting historic preservation as a national policy

Consistent with its responsibility to advise the President and Congress on historic preservation matters and to recommend adoption of related policies, the ACHP has regularly prepared special reports and studies and provided ongoing review and testimony on legislation. The agency has also promoted executive action and public-private partnerships to advance preservation, and recommended policies governing its own and others’ work on matters ranging from preservation and affordable housing to treatment of human remains.

Congressional reports and advice requested by Members of Congress or through legislation or committee have focused on a broad range of issues. ACHP advice has included views on the national preservation program’s operation, the historic preservation review process and proposed legal waivers from environmental review procedures, mining in the national parks, historic preservation funding, preservation tax incentives, research and technical facility preservation, post office preservation, and disaster funding. The ACHP has also regularly provided its recommendations and input on a broad range of pending legislation, assisted in drafting legislation, and worked on follow-up studies.  In 1972, for example, the ACHP worked with the General Services Administration (GSA) and others on legislation for dealing with historic preservation and surplus federal property, resulting in passage of the Surplus Property Act (P.L. 92-362). The ACHP also assisted the Department of Transportation in 1975 on a special report on historic railroad station preservation under the AMTRAK Improvement Act of 1974, and worked again with GSA to identify suitable historic public buildings under the Public Buildings Cooperative Use Act of 1976. In 1983, the ACHP prepared a special report on “Federal Tax Law and Historic Preservation.”  This report helped influence the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which was a basis for today’s successful historic preservation tax credits.

As one of its original statutory responsibilities, the ACHP prepared and distributed “Guidelines for State Historic Preservation Legislation” in 1972. The same year, the ACHP assisted in drafting the World Heritage Convention that was adopted by UNESCO.  In 1975, the U.S. Senate requested a report on the status of historic preservation in the United States. The resulting product, “The National Historic Preservation Program Today,” was published in 1976 and provided a basis for amendments to the NHPA later that year.  In 1981, the ACHP’s views were requested on the cultural heritage consequences of a pending termination of the U.S. trusteeship of the Pacific Islands of Micronesia, which it provided in a special report, and the termination included provisions for continuing historic preservation support for the Pacific entities.

Such authoritative analyses and advice laid the groundwork for periodic ACHP assessments and expert examination of the national historic preservation program and implementation of the NHPA. The ACHP’s annual reports regularly reported on issues associated with national preservation policy and program implementation. In 1986, the ACHP prepared a special 20th anniversary report and accompanying staff assessment on the NHPA and its operation.  The assessment included a detailed look at roles and responsibilities in the law’s implementation; how historic resources were identified and considered in planning; the adequacy of federal programs, funding mechanisms, coordination, and program leadership; and participation by Indian tribes and other Native Americans. The assessment also looked briefly at public outreach as well as the U.S. role in international preservation activities.

Want to explore this topic further? Check out these original documents and interviews with key players from the ACHP archive!

John L. Berrey, former ACHP Member, Native American Representative (Chairman, Quapaw Tribe), 2008-2012

As the Chairman of the Quapaw Tribe with nearly 20 years of experiences both good and bad dealing with Section 106 of NHPA, I am extremely proud of the efforts of the ACHP to support and promote Native American interests regarding cultural preservation and the nexus with economic development. The ACHP are truly the greatest advocates for all Americans to protect and promote our grand history. Gun-Ney-Gay! (Thank you) Read More