Records accountability legislation clears House

The House approved a bill that would clear the way to fire federal employees who have intentionally destroyed official records, including messages sent on official email accounts. 

The Federal Records Accountability Act (H.R. 5170), sponsored by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), would establish a process for suspending and removing any employee a federal inspector general has determined has "willfully and unlawfully concealed, removed, mutilated, obliterated, falsified, or destroyed any record, book, or other thing in the custody of such employee ..."

The bill also would head off use of private electronic messaging accounts to bypass recordkeeping by prohibiting any federal agency official or employee, from the president on down, from creating or sending a record using a non-official account—unless that person also copies the message to his or her official account, identifies all recipients, and submits the message for archiving by the agency. 

The bill also would require each agency to designate by Nov. 15 a senior official charged with ensuring compliance with records management laws and regulations.

Meadows and co-sponsor Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, introduced the legislation in July after it was discovered that emails pertaining to an ongoing investigation involving former IRS official Lois Lerner had been not been preserved.

In a statement issued after the vote, Meadows said the new requirements would "put intensified pressure on federal agencies and employees to comply with recordkeeping law.”

“In an open and transparent government, a Lois Lerner situation should never take place," Meadows said. 

Reader comments

Thu, Sep 18, 2014

My boss sent me an e-mail about this proposed law, and now I worry what will happen if I delete it.

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Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
Mike Causey Columnist
Tom Fox VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service
Mathew B. Tully Legal Analyst

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