On Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry requested that the State Department’s Inspector General review the way in which the agency preserves its emails.
“We are also facing challenges regarding our integration of record keeping technologies and the use of non-government systems by some Department personnel to conduct official business,” Kerry wrote in his letter.
Though Hillary Clinton claimed she sent emails to State Department employees from her personal account to their government accounts so that they can be preserved, the agency’s Inspector General recently announced that “of the 1 billion emails sent by State Department employees in 2011, just over 61,000 were kept.”
Clinton, who has come under fire for using a private email account and server while she was a secretary of state, admitted that she deleted more than 30,000 emails that she deemed to be “personal” and not “work-related.” Clinton also reportedly communicated with at least three of her top State Department aides on their private email accounts regarding official business.
As ABC News noted, the timing of Kerry’s letter “has many asking if this push for reform is connected to former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s recent scandal involving her use of a private email server, rather than a State Department account,” but State Department Spokesperson Jeff Rathke reportedly “denied this had anything to do with Clinton, citing instead the State Department’s need to better manage the overwhelming number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and requests for information from Congress.”
Kerry’s letter, though, “specifically mentions the use of personal email” and “many of his questions to the Inspector General relate directly to Clinton’s email scandal.” Kerry asked the Inspector General for an “expedited review” of his inquiries.
The Associated Press has sued the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for Clinton’s emails and the National Archives has demanded that the State Department explain why Clinton’s work-related emails were preserved on her private account. Kerry’s first inquiry asks the Inspector General, “How are the changes in technology and the way the State Department personnel work challenging existing preservation and transparency technologies and policies, especially with respect to email? Does the Department have the resources and tools it needs to meet NARA guidance on preservation and the concomitant resources to meet its obligations to disclose information pursuant to FOIA and other requests?”
The third asks, “How can the Department improve and streamline individual employees’ efforts to preserve official documents, both during their tenure and upon their departure? Are current training and instructions on preservation and responding to requests adequate and easy to follow?”
The fourth asks, “How can the Department improve its tools and methods for complying with the FOIA and other requests to search for and produce documents from both current and former employees?”
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who chairs the House Select Benghazi Committee, has subpoenaed Clinton’s emails, and Kerry’s fifth inquiry asks, “Congressional investigations and requests from multiple committees have greatly increased, and the Department has had difficulty responding in a timely way. While new technology is being tested, what further steps can be taken to respond more effectively to Congressional inquiries and what funding is necessary to accomplish this goal?”
Gowdy announced on Friday that Clinton did not turn over a single new document or her private email server, which Gowdy said Clinton “wiped clean.”