Issa seeks info on White House e-mail use

White House staff members' alleged use of Gmail and other personal e-mail accounts has the potential to jeopardize safekeeping of presidential records, the senior Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said today.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wrote to White House Counsel Gregory Craig to seek clarification by March 4 of policies on retention of e-mail messages that fall under the authority of the Presidential Records Act.

The previous two presidents have experienced problems in complying with the law, Issa wrote, and the Obama administration should clarify its policies concerning the management of staffers’ personal e-mail accounts from providers such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

Issa said he was responding to media reports of White House employees using Gmail accounts.

“The use of personal e-mail accounts, such as Gmail, to conduct official business raises the prospect that presidential records will not be captured by the White House e-mail archiving system,” Issa wrote.

“Unless White House officials forward copies of their e-mails to their government e-mail account or maintain printed copies of the e-mail, there is a risk records subject to the Presidential Records Act will not be retained as required by law. … Consequently, Gmail users on the President’s staff run the risk of incorrectly classifying their e-mails as nonrecords under the Act,” the letter states.

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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