Politics

Issa plans showdown over White House e-mail and tech lapses

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Jonathan Strong
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      Jonathan Strong

      Jonathan Strong, 27, is a reporter for the Daily Caller covering Congress. Previously, he was a reporter for Inside EPA where he wrote about environmental regulation in great detail, and before that a staffer for Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA). Strong graduated from Wheaton College (IL) with a degree in political science in 2006. He is a huge fan of and season ticket holder to the Washington Capitals hockey team. Strong and his wife reside in Arlington.

With the administration under fire for a range of ethical lapses from some of its top technology officials, a key Obama aide is scheduled to appear before a congressional oversight panel June 24 to discuss the tricky privacy and security issues new technologies present the federal government.

The hearing is poised to become a showdown over a mounting number of technology-related ethics and legal problems facing an administration that vowed to be the most transparent in history and end “politics as usual” in Washington.

“You can bet we’ll be asking some pointed questions,” said a spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, a top GOP oversight official and President Obama’s chief congressional tormentor.

Monday, key watchdog groups called on the White House to investigate a Daily Caller report that a top Obama aide sought special discounts from technology vendors.

House oversight committee Chairman Edolphus Towns, New York Democrat, on Friday sent notice to Issa’s staff of a hearing scheduled for June 24 to discuss “federal agency use of Web 2.0 technologies, such as open data, sharable content, user-centered design and social networking/media,” and “the privacy and security issues that agencies face in using Web 2.0 applications,” the notice said.

Invited witnesses include Mary Beth Noveck, a key Obama aide in the same office as Andrew McLaughlin, the former Google lobbyist turned administration official whose e-mails, made public under a Freedom of Information Act request by Consumer Watchdog, revealed he was e-mailing his prior employer on official business with a personal account, in violation of the president’s ethics pledge and federal law.

The White House officially reprimanded McLaughlin in May following an internal investigation.

At the time, a spokesman said the lapses were isolated incidents, but a Daily Caller investigation revealed a cavalier attitude in the White House towards safeguards designed to prevent abuses of the Presidential Records Act and other laws.

Noveck is deputy chief technology officer for the Open Government division of the Office of Science and Technology Policy OSTP. McLaughlin is deputy for the entire OSTP office.

Other invited witnesses include Gregory Wilshusen, director of information security issues at the Government Accountability Office and David Ferriero, the archivist of the United States, National Archives and Records Administration.