CRS warns against destruction of Web pages, records

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CRS Report

The Bush administration might leave with a burst of rulemaking, executive orders and appointments, and document destruction, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

The flurry of activity that tends to accompany presidential transitions could include the possible loss of electronic government records, such as Web pages, e-mail messages and other documents created on government computers, the report states.

“Changes of presidential administrations prompt concerns that some government
records might be destroyed or removed during the transition,” the report released Oct. 23 states.

Administrations leaving office have been known to publish a larger-than-usual number of regulations and executive orders during the transition, make last-minute presidential appointments, and convert political appointees to career positions, the report states.

Recent administrations concluded with an increase in the number of rules that agencies issue, a process that has been called midnight rulemaking, the report states.

To reduce the chance of midnight rulemaking, White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten issued a memo in May to the heads of executive departments and agencies stating that the administration needed to resist the historical tendency to increase regulatory activity in its final months. The memo asked that, except in extraordinary circumstances, proposed regulations should be submitted by June 1, and final regulations should be submitted no later than Nov. 1.

The CRS report was posted on the Web by the Federation of American Scientists.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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