House Hearing on Executive Branch Electronic Communications Preservation

April 25, 2008

The House Oversight and Government Reform?s Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives held a hearing yesterday to address the Electronic Communications Preservation Act (H.R. 5811), sponsored by Chairman of the Committee Henry Waxman (D-CA-30), Chairman of the Subcommittee Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO-1), and Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH-2). The bill directs the Archivist of the United States to establish standards for the capture, management, retrieval, and preservation of White House e-mails and other electronic communications. The Committee?s Press Release, summary of the bill, and full text of the bill is available here.  Transcripts from the hearing are posted here.

Under the Federal Records Act, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is responsible for assisting Federal agencies in maintaining adequate and proper documentation of federal records.  Given the increased use of electronic communications, federal agencies are potentially creating (and discarding) messages that have the status of federal records.  According to a new report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), when GAO reviewed the e-mail management practices of four senior agencies officials they found that, although the agencies? e-mail records management policies addressed the regulatory requirements, these requirements were not always met for the senior officials.


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