State Department IG: Employees Not Preserving Enough Email

White House Photo / Pete Souza
White House Photo / Pete Souza

A report released Wednesday by the State Department’s Inspector General concludes that the department’s employees are not saving enough of their emails for “official records.”

In a review of the State Department’s systems that took place in Washington, D.C. during the first three months of 2014, the IG found that State Department employees “have not received adequate training or guidance on their responsibilities for using those systems to preserve ‘record emails.’”

The report comes as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is under scrutiny for using a personal email address and server during her time at Foggy Bottom. The report did not mention Clinton.

The IG did highlight years Clinton was secretary of state, as an example of the lack of email preservation.

“In 2013, Department employees created 41,749 record emails,” the report reads. “These statistics are similar to numbers from 2011, when Department employees created 61,156 record emails out of more than a billion emails sent. (The OIG team did not review 2012 figures.) Department officials have noted that many emails that qualify as records are not being saved as record emails.”

The IG explained that, although the State Department upgraded its system in 2009 in order to keep emails for records use, there is not enough oversight of the function, there is a lack of understanding about what should be saved as official records, and some employees are not keen on leaving a record trail.

“Some employees do not create record emails because they do not want to make the email available in searches or fear that this availability would inhibit debate about pending decisions,” the report reads.

According to the report the IG made seven recommendations to improve the department’s preservation of email records like annual reviews of record email, training to identify official records emails, guidance about employees’ records keeping responsibilities, and the creation of a body to advise on the matter.


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