New law clarifies agency staffers’ use of personal email
President Barack Obama signed a bill before the Thanksgiving holiday that requires agency employees who use a nonagency electronic messaging system for official business to forward copies of the correspondence to their official accounts.
That provision in the legislation, H.R. 1233, was added during a March 2013 mark up, a staffer from the bill sponsor’s office said on background, after news came out that former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson used a secondary EPA email account with the alias “Richard Windsor” for official business. It codifies a guidance the National Archives and Records Administration issued last year that made the same recommendation.
The law makes several other updates to existing federal data rules. For one, it amends the Federal Records Act to clearly include electronic records. It’s the first update to the definition set by the 1950 act, which established the framework for records management in federal agencies.
The legislation also confirms that federal electronic records would transfer to the National Archives in electronic form, grants the archivist of the United States final determination as to what constitutes a federal record, and allows the early transfer of permanent electronic federal and presidential records to the National Archives.
In a statement, Archivist of the United States David Ferriero commended lawmakers for “shining a spotlight on the challenges that so many federal agencies and presidential administrations have faced in managing their electronic records.”
A NARA spokeswoman said in an email that the agency will also be taking a close look at the new law, reviewing current regulations and revising accordingly.