House Oversight Committee Asks White House About E-Mail Preservation Policy

This week, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a letter it sent in February to White House Counsel Gregory Craig seeking an update on how the Obama administration is meeting its obligations to preserve e-mails under the Presidential Records Act (PRA) and White House policies on the preservation of e-mail records. The letter cited the problems involving the Bush administration’s apparent failure to preserve thousands of White House e-mails.

The Committee requested updated information on how new information technology systems were implemented in the closing months of the Bush administration and their status at the beginning of the Obama administration.

The Committee specifically requested answers to the following questions:

l. What is the status of the installation and migration to the new archiving system installed last year?

2. Whether the National Archives and PRA portfolio would be assigned to one associate White House counsel on a full-time basis?

3. What policies and procedures were put in place to ensure that official e-mails subject to the Presidential Records Act are captured and preserved by government information technology systems?

4 . What procedure exists for ensuring that all messages sent or received by White House staff on private, non-governmental e-mail accounts are properly categorized as presidential records or non-presidential records? What review process has been instituted to ensure that each e-mail is accurately categorized pursuant to law?