Congress

Oversight panel advances records preservation, transparency bills

U.S. Capitol (Photo by M DOGAN / Shutterstock) 

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved a slate of bills aimed at preserving electronic records, improving customer experience and posting more information online.

The Electronic Message Preservation Act, which Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) introduced in 2013, 2015 and 2017, made it out of committee for the first time.

The bill would empower the national archivist to issue rules requiring federal agencies to capture and preserve digitally created records and require those records to be "readily accessible" via electronic searches. Agencies would also be required to submit timelines to the National Archives and Records Administration to ensure the rules' timely implementation.

White House staffers have reportedly been using the Confide app to send encrypted messages that automatically delete after being read.

The committee also backed the Federal Agency Customer Experience Act, introduced by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), that would require agencies chosen by the Office of Management and Budget to solicit user feedback regarding government services.

Another Farenthold bill approved by the committee would make sure agencies make available records covered by the Freedom of Information Act to NARA's Office of Government Information Services upon request. OGIS is the Justice Department entity that generates governmentwide FOIA policy.

The Guidance Out of Darkness Act, introduced by Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), would require agencies to post all guidance documents on regulations.gov.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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