F A C I L I T I E S , AND S E R V I C E S
I S S U E B R I E F NUMBER I B 8 0 0 9 0
T H E L I B R A R Y OF C O N G R E S S
CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
MAJOR I S S U E S S Y S T E M
D A T E O R I G I N A T E D 10/15/80
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CALL 287-5700
The Former Presidents Act (72 Stat. 838) of 1958 provides financial and
practical means to those who have served as President of the United States
and still retain certain implicit public duties.
In 1958, the cost of former
Presidents to the public was an estimated $64,000.
In FY84, approximately
$27 million will be spent on benefits to former Presidents and their widows.
Operation and maintenance of Presidential Libraries was approximately $14.9
million in FY83.
Increasing concern has been expressed by Congress and the
public as to the amounts and the types of expenditures that have been made.
BACKGROUND AND POLICY ANALYSIS
Prior to 1958, former Presidents and their spouses received no automatic
pension or other services. Many early former Presidents endured hardships
and indignities, some having died penniless.
The widows of former Presidents
faced a similar fate.
For these reasons, Congress decided to provide
pensions by special legislation.
BENEFITS TO FORMER PRESIDENTS
The legislative history of the Former Presidents Act shows that Sefore its
enactment, the President of the United States was virtually the only officer
or employee of' the Federal Government not covered by some. sort of retirement
At hearings held by the House Committee on Post Office and Civil
Service during the 85th Congress, the then-House Majority
McCormack, offered a rationale of retirement benefits for former Presidents:
(1) the office of the President is the most important in the world;
former President is considered a dedicated statesman, available for service
to the country; (3) the interest of the American people in the President does
not cease when his term of office has ended; and (4) a former President is
not expected to engage in any business or occupation that would demean the
office he once held.
The House committee stated in its report that the cost of such legislation
was "small, in consideration of the assurance it provides that former
Presidents of the United States Will not want either for a matter of
subsistence or for the necessary clerical employees to answer the letters of
the public seeking their advice
Provisions of the original legislation
provided each former President:
(1) a lifetime monetary allowance at the
rate of $25,000 per annum, payable monthly by the Secretary of the Treasury;
(2) staff assistance with the combined total compensation not to exceed
$50,000 per annum;
(3) suitable office space to be provided by
(4) use of the
Administrator of the General Services Administration; and
The Former Presidents Act also provided the widow of any
former President with a yearly pension of $10,000, payable monthly by the
Secretary of the Treasury.
Certain provisions of the Former Presidents Act have been amended since
its eate of enactment.
In 1970, pensions to former Presidents became equal
to the annual rate of basic pay of the head of an executive department
(Executive Level I), currently $80,100 (84 Stat. 1961).
in now authorized to hire an office staff of which
compensation shall not exceed $150,000 per annum (91 Stat.
1170) during the
first 30 months that staff assistance under the Former Presidents Act i s
authorized; the limit then reverts to $96,000 a year. Surviving spouses of
former Presidents were granted free use of the mail in 1973 (39 U.S.C. 4165).
In 1970, the yearly pension benefits to spouses of former Presidents were
increased to $20,000 (84 Stat.
Unless it is declined; Secret Service protection has been extended
former Presidents and their spouses during their
protection is provided to a surviving spouse of a former President until
remarriage and to minor children of .a former President until the age of 1 6
(82 Stat. 1198) .
The Presidential Libraries Act (69 Stat.
provides Federal assistance by the General Services Administration for the
maintenance of the libraries in the deposition and storage of Presidential
papers and documents.
The construction costs for the libraries are paid with
The papers of former Presidents Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry
Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Gerald Ford a r e
housed in libraries bearing their names.
The Carter Presidential Library is
under construction a t Emory University in Atlanta, Ga.
On Apr. 2 9 , 1983, it was announced that San Clemente, California had been
chosen by former President Richard Nixon a s the site for his library.
Richard M. Nixon Foundation will raise money for the library's construction
on a 13-acre site.
The San Clemente site was selected by the former President after the
University of California a t Irvine attached conditions to its housing
Nixon library on campus.
The former President would have been required to
relinquish all claims of control over his presidential
materials, and a
university committee would have overseen exhibits held at the library.
Congress must still pass legislation to allow former President N i x o n f s
official papers to be released to the library since his Presidential papers
and tapes are now in the custody of the National Archives, in Washington D.C.
On Feb. 1 4 , 1984, officials of Stanford University announced that a museum
and library housing Ronald Reagan's Presidential papers will be located on
I t was announced by the White House that a President Reagan
Presidential Foundation will be created a t a future date
fund-raising for the library and museum.
During the 97th Congress, the Senate Committee held hearings on S.
entitled the ffForrnerPresidentsf Facilities and Services Reform Act of 1981."
T h e hearings focused on the proliferation
of benefits and the continuing
growth in the amount of Federal funds used to maintain
services a n d
facilities to former Presidents.
Testimony was heard from the Archivist of the United States,
from officials of G A O , and the U.S. Secret Service.
During the 98th Congress, on Feb. 2 3 , 1983, S. 563, the "Former Presidents
Facilities and Services Reform Act of 1983" was introduced.
This bill would
require the GSA Administrator to develop architectural
and design standards applicable to Presidential
provide the surviving spouse of a former President
with an allowance equal to two-thirds of the rate
payable to a former President (approximately $23,367
at the present time),;
establish specific guidelines for one suitable office
space for former Presidents, with restrictions on total
funds available; and
limit Secret Service protection for former Presidents,
spouses, widows, and children.
As envisioned by Senator Lawton Chiles in sponsoring S.
legislation would serve to insure stricter accountability in the use of
Federal funds by former Presidents, while a t the same time securing to each
former President and widow a dignified retired life composed of an annual
pension, adequate Secret Service protection, and staff and office space.
On Mar. 22, 1984, the Senate Governmental Affairs
On the House side, H.R. 2446 "Former Presidents Facilities and Services
Reform Act of 1983" was introduced by Representative Matthew Rinaldo on Apr.
On Oct. 2 7 , 1983, the House approved H.R.
(FY84 Treasury, Postal
Service and General Government Appropriations).
This bill would
allowances and office staff for former Presidents to $260,300.
This is a
reduction in funds f-rom the $1,171,000 which was provided for allowances and
office staff for fosmer Presidents by the Senate in S. 1646
Postal Service and General Government Appropriations).
S. 1646 did not come
to a final vote by the Senate before its Nov. 1 8 adjournment.
S. 563 (Chiles)
Former Presidents Facilities and Services Reform Act of 1983. Reforms the
laws relating to former Presidents in the areas of Presidential libraries,
pensions for spouses, and Secret Service protection.
Title I authorizes the Administrator of GSA, in C O n S ~ l t a t i ~with
Archivist and Commissioner of the Public Buildings
Service, to develop
architectural and design standards applicable to Presidential libraries.
These standards would insure that the structure could preserve Presidential
records transferred to the custody of the Archivist.
For each President or
former President, only one Presidential archival depository can be accepted.
It must be contained in one building not in excess of forty thousand square
feet in one geographic location, including museum space.
Prior to accepting
or establishing a Presidential archival depository, the GSA Administrator
must submit a detailed prospectus to the House Committee on Government
Operations and the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs.
Title I1 amends the Former Presidents Act
spouses, and office and staff allowances.
The spouse of a deceased former President would be entitled to a monetary
allowance at a per annum rate equal to two-thirds of the rate payable to a
former President which would terminate upon the spouse's remarriage o r death.
of GSA is authorized to provide for each former
President the following:
one suitable office with space not exceeding 4,000
sq. ft. in area, appropriately equipped; compensation of an office space
designated by the former President with no individual paid in excess of the
level I 1 Executive Schedule; payment of travel expenses and subsitence
allowance, including rental of Government or
communications services; and payment of expenses for necessary printing and
These funds would not be made available for partisan political
activities or income genera.ting activities.
This title provides
exception to be made for the preparation of Presidential memoirs, provided
that a former President signed an agreement with
the GSA Administrator to
have the memoirs printed and distributed by the Public Printer.
Expenditures of $750,000 are authorized for the fiscal year in which the
term of a former President expires; $300,000 for the next four fiscal years;
$250,000 for the subsequent four fiscal years; and $200,000 for each
succeeding fiscal year thereafter.
respect to any one Presidential
transition, $2 million would be authorized for the purpose of proviaing
services and facilities to the President-elect and Vice President-elect.
Title I11 authorizes Secret Service protection for a former President for
an 8-year period, with any additional protection to be authorized by the
Secretary of the Treasury. The Secret Service would be authorized to protect
the spouse or minor child of any former President if it were incidental to
the protection of the former President, or if authorized by the Secretary of
the Treasury. A widow
widower of a former President would
protection for a 6-monQh
period, and additional protection
authorized by the Secretary of the Treasury.
An Advisory Panel on Secret
Service Protection would be established to review any request for extended
Secret Service protection.
Introduced Feb. 23,
This legislation would amend the Former President's Act (P.L.
provide that a former President receive monetary allowances only after
waiving any rights to receive any other annuity or pension
to which the
former President would otherwise be entitled under any other Federal law.
Introduced on Mar.
2, 1983; referred to the Committee on Post
Former Presidents Facilities and Services Reform Act of 1983.
bill, the GSA Administrator would submit to Congress a prospectus
establishment of a central Presidential library.
The number of square feet
U P D A T E - O ~ / ~
for archival and research space in the central library allotted for each
former President would be determined by numerical formula based on years i n
See S. 563 for summary of other provisions contained in this bill.
Introduced Apr. 7, 1983; referred jointly to the Committees on
Operations; House Administration;
Judiciary; and Post Office
Senate. Committee on Governmental Affairs.
Benefits to former Presidents.
Hearing, 97th Congress,
2d session. Sept. 22, 1982. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print.
Committee on Governmental Affairs.
Subcommittee on Civil Service and General Services. Oversight
on the former Presidents Act and the Presidential Transition
Hearing, 96th Congress, 1st session.
May 1 6 , 1979.
Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1979.
5 8 p.
Committee on Governmental Affairs and
Subcommittees of Committee on Appropriations.
Cost of former
Presidents to U.S. taxpayers.
Special hearing, 96th Congress,
Nov. 6-8, 1979. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print.
328 p .
REPORTS AND CONGRESSIONAL DOCUMENTS
Committee on Appropriations.
Postal Service, and General Government Appropriations Bill, 1981.
Washjngton, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1980.
(96th Congress, 2 6
Senate. Report no. 96-955)
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee approved S. 563.
It was announced that President Reagan's museum
and official papers will be housed at Stanford
Senate Governmental Affairs Committee held markup on
S. 563 HFormer Presidents Facilities and Services
Reform Act of 1983."
The House approved H.R. 4139 (FY84 Treasury, Postal
Service and General Government appropriations).
Former President Jimmy Carter's handmade hickory
chairs were auctioned off by Sotheby Parke Bernet.
Profits from the auction are to be donated to raise
funds for the Carter Presidential library and
Carter Center of Emory University in Rtlanta.
Former President Richard Nixon selects San Clemente,
Ca. as the location for his Presidential library.
H.R. 1788 is introduced and referred to the Committee
on Post Office and Civil Service.
Stanford University announced that White House officials
are holding informal discussions over the possibility
of locating a presidential library for Ronald Reagan at
Stanford after he leaves office.
S. 563 is introduced and referred to the Committee on
Hearings are held by the Senate Governmental
Affairs Committee on the cost of former Presidents
to the Federal Government.
ADDITIONAL REFERENCE SOURCES
An $800,000 yearly tab for Nixon, Ford. U.S.
report, v. 8 7 , Apr. 1 6 , 1979:
An $11 million tab to support 3 ex-Presidents.
report, v. 8 9 , June I, 1981:
The "imperial" life of our former Presidents.
world report, v. 9 4 , no. 17:
Jerry Ford, incorporated.
news and world
Newsweek, v-. 9 7 , May 1 1 , 1981:
Paying for National pyramids.
May 1 6 , 1983:
news and world
Time, v. 121, no. 20, May 2 0 ,
American heritage, v. 3 0 , June-July
Inquiry, Nov. 23, 1981:
General Accounting Office.
Report to the Comptroller General
of the United States. GSA approval of expenditures under the
Former Presidents Act has been reasonable.
Washington, Sept. 1 0 ,
1979. 14 p.
Library of Congress.
Congressional Research Service.
Benefits to former Presidents of the United States [by]
Stephanie Smith and Sharon S. Gressle.
[ ~ a s h i n g t o n ]1980.
CRS Report 80-211 GOV
Presidential transitions and the Presidential Transition Act of
1963 [by] Stephanie Smith.
[washington] 1980. 40 p.
CRS Report 80-214 GOV