“Too often over the past several years, our investigations have revealed weaknesses in government preservation of e-mail that could leave substantial gaps as future historians examine White House and agency decision-making,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the committee's chairman and one of the bill’s sponsors, in announcing the legislation.
In a related development, preliminary findings from the Government Accountability Office released today summarized a survey of recordkeeping processes at four agencies. Although the agencies generally met NARA's statutory requirements, its policies were not always followed, GAO auditors said.
“The loss of documents and information through indifference should be viewed with as much alarm as their loss through a system breach,” said Patrice McDermott, director of OpenTheGovernment.org, in her opening statement for a hearing set for today by a subcommittee that deals with federal information policies and issues. After a series of votes delayed lawmakers, the session was postponed indefinitely.
Little progress has been made in electronic records management across the federal government, McDermott said, and “we repeatedly have to relearn the lesson, apparently, that servers and backup tapes are not appropriate records management systems.”
It is unclear whether we need to relearn that lesson or whether the Bush White House chose not to learn that lesson.