State plans electronic release of Clinton email

Questions remain about format as problems persist with the department's email system.

email

The State Department has launched a review of the 55,000 pages of email messages submitted as federal records by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with an eye to releasing them to the public.

The move comes as news organizations, including the Associated Press and Gawker Media, file suit against the department to gain access to Clinton's email messages, which were sent from and stored on a personal email server maintained by the Clinton family.

According to department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, the review adheres to Freedom of Information Act standards. Certain portions of messages that contain sensitive, classified or personally identifiable information will be redacted, though Clinton has stated that her messages contain no classified information.

In addition, any messages deemed to be purely personal will be withheld. That criterion is not part of FOIA review, and Clinton said in a news conference that her personal correspondence was deleted from her server.

The State Department plans to release the messages in electronic format, even though they were submitted in print. It is not clear whether State officials plan to obtain the messages in their original electronic format or release a PDF scan of the printed records. The agency did not reply to questions from FCW on this and related topics.

The National Archives and Records Administration, meanwhile, "has reached out to the State Department to gather information and monitor the current situation," a NARA spokesperson said. NARA told FCW that any request for Clinton's email messages in their original electronic format would properly come from a records officer at the State Department, which is responsible for transfer issues related to agency records.

Since February 2015, the State Department has been auto-archiving the email of certain principals as part of a push to prepare for governmentwide regulations on electronic retention of email records set to take effect at the end of 2016. That effort includes current Secretary of State John Kerry and the deputy secretary, undersecretaries and assistant secretaries.

"This has been a process that's been ongoing, and obviously, it's not only time-consuming and requires a lot of effort on the part of employees to do it in other ways, but they have long been planning to do this," Psaki said at a March 13 press briefing. "It's just something that it took some time to put in place."

Separately, the State Department is experiencing ongoing disruptions to its non-classified email and other computer systems connected to the Internet. Those systems went off-line on March 13 as part of a long-term plan to harden systems and ferret out intruders in the wake of an October 2014 cyberattack.

A contractor who works closely with the State Department told FCW that those systems were still down as of midday on March 16, leaving agency employees without inbound or outbound connectivity.

Psaki said some systems would be coming back online before March 17 and stressed that the current outage "isn't about a new intrusion in our system."

NEXT STORY: Federal 100: Catherine Marschner

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