On May 29, 2009, the National Archives and Records Administration announced a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the recovery of an external hard drive containing copies of backup tapes from the Executive Office of the President (EOP) of the Clinton Administration. NARA learned in late March 2009 that the hard drive was missing from a processing room at NARA’s College Park, Maryland facility.
The missing hard drive was last seen sometime between October 2008 and the first week of February and was discovered missing on or about March 24, 2009. According to NARA, on that date staff members began a comprehensive search for the missing hard drive. As soon as NARA staff confirmed in early April 2009 that the hard drive was missing, they reported it to NARA senior officials, including the Acting Archivist of the United States, the Inspector General (IG), and Senior Agency Official for Privacy/General Counsel.
The external drive was being used for routine recopying to ensure preservation of the records. NARA has stated that no original records have been lost because the agency has the original tapes and a backup hard drive. The 4mm tapes that were copied onto the hard drive generally comprised “snapshots” of the contents of hard drives of departing EOP employees, and therefore contain a mix of system and working files. The drive contains both federal and Presidential records, depending on which EOP office the files came from.
On May 19, NARA’s Inspector General briefed House Oversight and Government Reform Committee staff to update them on the status of a criminal investigation being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) into the loss of the hard drive.
According to a press release issued by House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA), the drive contains one terabyte of data derived from records from the Clinton presidency. The missing data includes more than 100,000 social security numbers, contact information (including addresses) for various Clinton administration officials, Secret Service and White House operating procedures, event logs, social gathering logs, political records and other “highly-sensitive information.”
Anyone who can provide information leading to the recovery of the external hard drive from the Clinton Administration should call the USSS Washington Field Office at 202-406-8800. This Hot Line is manned and operated by representatives of the United States Secret Service.