There’s a full explanation of this on Russ Kick’s blog. If I understand correctly, there a formal process in which federal agencies coordinate with the national archive to determine the status of public records. These requests are usually green lit by the National Archives & Records Administration, though they theoretically have the power to refuse them. This is how Russ Kick describes what is happening:
The Department of the Interior has sent NARA a massive Request for Records Disposition Authority.
Interior’s request involves documents about oil and gas leases, mining, dams, wells, timber sales, marine conservation, fishing, endangered species, non-endangered species, critical habitats, land acquisition, and lots more.
The request covers these categories of documents from every agency within the Interior Department, including the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and others.
The request covers already-existing documents going back more than 50 years. Thousands of cubic feet of paper documents. Gigabytes of digital documents. Besides existing documents, as usual the proposed schedule will also apply to all future documents created in these categories (whether on paper or born digital).
It’s hard not to wonder if this might be the start of requests by other agencies. For all the centrism running through the latest book by Michael Lewis, I still found it a powerful account of the institutional vandalism currently underway. People who don’t understand the federal agencies they have been appointed to are nonetheless committed to eviscerating them from the inside, undertaken with varying degrees of direct self-interest. In the context of these appointments, it would be naive to assume anything other than the worst in response to this request.