Press Releases

Washington, DC – The Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill approved by the Senate today includes a new public-private partnership established by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to begin addressing the Smithsonian Institution’s $2.5 billion facilities maintenance backlog.

The new “Legacy Fund,” included in the Interior Appropriations budget, provides $14.766 million in new federal funding that will only become available after the Smithsonian has raised $30 million in private donations.  These funds must be dedicated solely to facilities maintenance and revitalization projects. 

“The Legacy Fund will provide $15 million of new federal funding to the Smithsonian if the Board of Regents can raise $30 million in private funds,” Senator Feinstein said. “It is meant to be an incentive to the Smithsonian Board of Regents to plunge into what is becoming an enormous problem, and that is the backlog of maintenance.  I hope the Regents will agree that it is partnerships like these that are necessary to take care of the rapidly deteriorating facilities that are jeopardizing this beloved institution.”

The following is a summary of the Smithsonian Institution’s enacted budget for 2007, and the budget that has been included in the Omnibus Appropriations bill for 2008:

2007 Enacted   2008 Omnibus  
Salaries & Expenses:  $536.3 million Salaries & Expenses: $562.434 million 
Facilities Capital:   $98.6 million Facilities Capital: $105.429 million
Total:   $634.9 million Legacy Fund  $14.766 million
    Total: $682.629 million

Senator Feinstein is chairman of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which is responsible for Smithsonian public funding.  In addition, Senator Feinstein is chairman of the Rules and Administration Committee, which has oversight responsibilities for the Smithsonian Institution. 

In September 2007, the Government Accountability Office released a report detailing the continued maintenance and security issues at Smithsonian Institution facilities, and other problems resulting from its budget crisis.   The report estimated that the Institution’s facilities maintenance backlog will cost more than $2.5 billion to repair.

As Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, Senator Feinstein has repeatedly stressed that the Smithsonian can not rely on the federal government for this magnitude of funding.  She has encouraged the Board to explore creative partnerships and alternative strategies to raise private funds.