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Preserving Records

A well maintained electronic record keeping system is critical for making government more open and accountable: it allows information from across the government to be understood in context and makes sure records are not lost or improperly erased. works with our partners, the Administration, and Congress to develop and advocate for legislative and regulatory reforms to improve electronic records management.


Twelve Open Government Groups Call For Archivist and State Department to Review Clinton Email Server and Ensure Preservation of Federal Records

Today and eleven other pro-transparency groups wrote to the Secretary of State and the Archivist of the United States, requesting that they independently verify the preservation of federal records among the emails in electronic form. The groups wrote, “the task of determining which emails constitute federal records should not be left solely to Mrs. Clinton’s personal aides.

FAQs: Federal Email Records Management

On March 2nd, the New York Times published a story reporting that Hillary Clinton had not used an official Department of State email account during her time as Secretary of State. Instead, Clinton and some staff members used a private email server. As OTG director Patrice McDermott told The Hill, “What she did was not technically illegal…[but] it was highly inappropriate and it was inappropriate for the State Department to let this happen.”

To clarify much some of the confusion surrounding the story and the federal government’s approach to managing and preserving email generally, we have rounded up a set of the records management policies in play—from the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) guidance on management of email, to the recent update of the Presidential and Federal Records Act. These resources provide answers to many frequently asked questions:

Groups to President Obama: Stop Ignoring the Torture Report

On January 28, and 8 other groups wrote to President Obama, asking his administration to stop ignoring the nearly 7000-page torture report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and reject Senator Richard Burr’s unprecedented request for the report’s return. The letter states in part:

SSCI Chairman to CIA: We'll Hide Your Documents if You Hide Ours

Shortly after he became chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in January, Senator Richard Burr told reporters in his home state that he had no intention of trying to rewrite the committee’s 6700-page, $40 million torture report. Burr said that despite his disagreements with the report, he wanted to “look forward and do oversight in real time.”

The CIA's Oversight Committee Doesn't Want It Deleting Emails Either--UPDATED

Last month, and 16 other civil society groups wrote to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to oppose a CIA request for additional authority to destroy emails.  This week, five members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) also raised alarm about the proposal, including Chairman Dianne Feinstein and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss.

Lame Duck Looking Not So Lame for OpenGov

The lame duck session of the 113th Congress has already acted on one open government priority-- sending a bill to the President for signature that will help speed up the release of historical White House Records -- and leaders in the Senate have taken steps to push forward legislation to reform the National Surveillance Agency's (NSA) surveillance programs and to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). 

Groups to National Archives: Don’t Let the CIA Destroy Its Emails and 16 other open government, civil liberties and human rights groups have asked the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to reject a CIA request for increased authority to destroy email records.

Presidential Federal Records Act Amendments Pass Senate

The Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014 sailed through the Senate on September 10th, passing by unanimous consent. The bill underwent some changes since its unanimous passage in the House in January. Those changes must be approved by the House before the bill heads to the President’s desk.

CREW Calls for Congressional Investigation of Federal Record-Keeping

Deficient record keeping laws are an impediment to congressional oversight, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said in a letter to Congress last week.

The Classified Section

Check out our new blog, The Classified Section, for analysis of national security secrecy.

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