Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton isn’t the only one who used a personal email account to conduct government business, with sole discretion over which emails she kept or deleted.
Department of Energy employees routinely use private email accounts for public business and decide on their own which emails to keep or delete, according to the DOE Office of Inspector General. The government employs more than 13,000 people at the department.
“Department officials noted that guidelines within which employees could send or receive work-related email from their personal accounts had not been established, making archival and retrieval of potential records difficult or impossible,” the IG said in a special report made public Wednesday.
The department’s email applications also “did not meet federal requirements for records management because they relied solely on the use for identification and did not prevent the modification and deletion of records.”
Many employees didn’t know better. “In most cases, users were unaware that they were even responsible for identifying which emails should be retained as records,” the IG said.
Investigators found widespread ignorance about how to identify and archive emails, including among “senior department officials” in the National Nuclear Security Administration. Less than half of employees interviewed said they manually archive emails, as DOE recommended.
The Office of Management and Budget told all federal agencies to use automated software for retaining emails in 2012, but only one DOE office now does so. There is a government-wide 2016 deadline for implementing the automated system.
Energy officials have been dinged on the email issue repeatedly in the past. As far back as 2005, federal investigators said DOE wasn’t maintaining records properly.
“Despite recent concerns regarding email records retention, effective records management had not been treated as a priority,” the IG said.
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