Executive Director’s Message

From the Executive Director features news and reflections on the work of PHMC by its chief administrator.

With the passage of legisla­tion in 1981, the Common­wealth of Pennsylvania joined nearly three dozen states which have subscribed to the “sunset review process,” a careful and systematic evalua­tion of certain state agencies. Pennsylvania’s sunset legisla­tion created an ongoing proc­ess for the review of seventy­-six specific state agencies for a four year period, between 1983 and 1987. Unless found to be worthwhile, agencies will be terminated.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission is included in this critical review by impartial observers. In fact, many individuals and offices have lent their expertise and experience throughout the initial phases of the complex evaluation procedure. To help each agency’s staff determine the effectiveness and efficiency of its programs and services, a report, prepared by the Legis­lative Budget and Finance Committee, evaluates the agency’s management and performance. And every staff member is conscientiously examining his or her pro­grams, as well as the myriad ways in which they are carried out to serve our broad audi­ence.

Throughout the rigorous appraisal program, there are a number of questions which we must answer honestly and fully. Is the agency’s operation in the public interest? Is there a demonstrated need for the agency’s continued existence? Has the public participated in the agency’s decision-making process?

I am pleased to note that the public’s interest has always been treated first and fore­most, and that the agency strives daily to make our pub­lic services and outreach pro­grams as far-reaching and as effective as possible. It should come as no surprise that many historical and cultural organi­zations were contacted by the Legislative Budget and Fi­nance Committee during the audit of the Commission. To carry that further, many visi­tors to our historic sites and museums making up Pennsyl­vania’s “Trail of History” were also queried. Since we have always encouraged public participation in our multi­faceted programs, we welcome this crucial input.

The history of the Pennsyl­vania Historical and Museum Commission is illustrious, reaffirming the staffs, as well as the public’s, commitment to not only the accurate interpre­tation of more than three cen­turies of history and culture, but the generous sharing of that knowledge. As we take part in this sunset review process, we pause – even if only momentarily – to examine the various ways in which we have nurtured our diverse constituency. Since the crea­tion of the Pennsylvania His­torical Commission in 1913, to which the present-day Com­mission traces its origins, the Commonwealth’s heritage has been painstakingly preserved for future generations of teach­ers and professors, historians, students and scholars, archae­ologists, historical architects, genealogists, preservationists, city planners, archivists, cura­tors and, of course, the general public.

We are confident that, so long as the public requires our many outreach programs and services, we will be able to satisfy those needs in an effi­cient and effective manner. And we trust that, given the continuing support of govern­ment leaders and friends, the sun shall never set on the many public history programs offered to the people of Penn­sylvania.

Larry E. Tise
Executive Director