Kerry Orders Review of Recordkeeping 03/28 10:18
The State Department has ordered an internal audit of its recordkeeping,
part of a top-to-bottom look at the agency's practices in the aftermath of
revelations that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton used a
private email account and server during her tenure.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The State Department has ordered an internal audit of its
recordkeeping, part of a top-to-bottom look at the agency's practices in the
aftermath of revelations that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
used a private email account and server during her tenure.
The State Department released a letter Friday that Secretary of State John
Kerry sent to the department's inspector general earlier this week, asking for
the review and calling it critical to "preserve a full and complete record of
American foreign policy" and for the U.S. public to have access to that
information. Among the questions he outlined were how best to retain records in
light of changing technology, the agency's global presence and increasing
demands from Congress.
State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters Friday the review
would include the archiving of emails as well as Freedom of Information Act and
congressional inquiries. He said it was not specific to Clinton, a likely
presidential candidate who has been dogged by questions since it became clear
she didn't use a government email account while in office and only provided the
State Department with copies of work-related emails late last year.
The full trove of Clinton emails will be published on a website after they
are reviewed. She says they contain no classified information. The State
Department says emails pertaining to a congressional panel's examination of the
deadly 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, will be
released in advance of the others.
In the letter, Kerry said his department has undertaken significant efforts
to promote preservation and transparency, including through better technology
and training of staff. But he said the burden was significant, with more than
18,000 FOIA requests arriving each year that put a "significant strain" on
diplomats whose main job is the advancement of U.S. foreign policy. In
addition, he said, congressional investigations and requests have "greatly
Kerry also didn't mention Clinton specifically, but noted that officials
were "facing challenges regarding our integration of recordkeeping technologies
and the use of nongovernment systems by some department personnel to conduct
He asked Inspector General Steve Linick to make several recommendations.
They range from how to make improvements across more than 280 diplomatic posts
worldwide to ways to streamline efforts to preserve appropriate documents.
Kerry questioned whether the agency has even the resources and tools necessary
to meet its obligations.
The State Department has particularly struggled with the backlog of public
records requests. Some have languished for years without being met.
Earlier this month, The Associated Press sued to gain access to Clinton's
correspondence after repeated FOIA requests to the department went unfulfilled.
They included one request made five years ago.
An inspector general's report in 2012 criticized the State Department's
practices as "inefficient and ineffective," citing a heavy workload, small
staff and interagency problems.
Kerry asked if outside expertise might be advisable on how best to manage,
preserve and make transparent its documents. He asked the inspector general to
conduct "an expedited review of these issues."