WASHINGTON (CNN) – A California Republican congressman has called on President Obama to put in place a system that ensures all White House emails be preserved even if official business was done through private e- mail accounts.
Rep. Darrell Issa, the senior Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, made the request in a February 18 letter to White House Counsel Greg Craig.
Issa specifically mentioned the new administration’s brief use of Gmail accounts after Obama was sworn in last month, as they waited for the official White House e-mail accounts to become active.
Click here to read Issa's letter
“As you know, any e-mail sent or received by White House officials may be subject to retention under the Presidential Records Act (PRA),” Issa wrote Craig in the letter.
“The use of personal e-mail accounts, such as Gmail to conduct official business raises the prospect that presidential records will not be captured by the White House e-mail archiving system. Consequently Gmail users on the President’s staff run the risk of incorrectly classifying their e-mails as non-records under the [Presidential Records] Act.”
A White House spokesman told CNN Thursday that all staff were told to forward any official correspondence to their White House e-mail accounts, and added that private e-mail accounts are no longer being used.
“In order to ensure that they were accessible in the first hours and days of the administration, some staff members created email accounts from which to conduct official business before their government accounts were operational,” a spokesman for the White House said in an email to CNN.
“Those staff members were instructed to forward any presidential records that they established during that time period, including emails, to their government email accounts to ensure that they would be in compliance with the Presidential Records Act. Those temporary accounts are no longer being used.”
Issa also asked that the White House respond to a series of questions about the administration’s email archiving by March 4.
E-mail use by the new administration’s staff has been twice disrupted by problems with White House servers in the past month.
President Obama also uses e-mail to communicate with a small circle of his senior staff and close friends. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has said that the President’s e-mails are subject to preservation under the Presidential Records Act, but the law has an exception for personal communications.