House Passes Cummings Bill to Require Agencies and the White House to Preserve Email Records
Washington, D.C. (Mar. 13, 2019)—The House of Representatives passed without opposition H.R. 1582, the Electronic Message Preservation Act, authored by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, to modernize how the federal government preserves email records.
“I introduced this bill with the goal of modernizing the Federal and Presidential Records Acts and to help ensure that email records from federal agencies and the White House are preserved,” Chairman Cummings said. “This legislation would provide accountability to encourage every president to have the controls in place that are necessary to preserve emails and other electronic records. This bill has passed the House with bipartisan support several times before, including last Congress. I urge my colleagues to support the bill again today, and I hope the Senate will act on the bill and send it to the President’s desk before the end of the year.”
The Electronic Message Preservation Act would:
- Require the Archivist of the United States to issue regulations mandating that all federal agencies manage and preserve their email records electronically.
- Require the Archivist to establish standards for the preservation and management of email records that are presidential records and to certify annually that the White House has records management controls in place that meet those standards.
- Require a report from the Archivist one year after the president leaves office on whether the controls used by the president met the required standards.
The bill would put into statute what agencies are already required to do under a directive issued by the Archivist and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget in 2012.
According to a 2018 report from the National Archives and Records Administration, approximately 35% of federal agencies continue to print and file hard copies of e-mail messages making such records more likely to get lost and harder for agencies to retrieve during searches under the Freedom of Information Act.
Click here to read Chairman Cummings’ full statement as entered into the Congressional Record.