EPA inspector general whitewashes Richard Windsor e-mail scandal — only interviewed EPA officials

The EPA IG concludes:

We found no evidence that the EPA used, promoted or encouraged the use of private “non-governmental” email accounts to circumvent records management responsibilities or reprimanded, counseled or took administrative actions against personnel for using private email or alias accounts for conducting official government business. EPA senior officials said they were aware of the agency records management policies and, based only on discussions with these senior officials, the OIG found no evidence that these individuals had used private email to circumvent federal recordkeeping responsibilities.

The previous EPA Administrator and the then Acting EPA Administrator who followed were issued two EPA email accounts. One account was made available to the public to communicate with the EPA Administrator and the other was used to communicate internally with EPA personnel. This was the common practice for previous Administrators. The practice is widely used within the agency and is not limited to senior EPA officials. These secondary EPA email accounts present risks to records management efforts if they are not searched to preserve federal records.

The agency recognizes it is not practical to completely eliminate the use of private email accounts. However, the agency had not provided guidance on preserving records from private email accounts. The EPA has not implemented oversight processes to ensure locations provide consistent and regular training on records management responsibilities, and employees complete available training on their delegated National Records Management Program duties. Inconsistencies in employee out-processing procedures pose risks that federal records are not identified and preserved before an employee departs the agency. EPA also lacks an automated tool to create federal records from its new email system.

Read the report…

5 thoughts on “EPA inspector general whitewashes Richard Windsor e-mail scandal — only interviewed EPA officials”

  1. I concur. It’d be no different from monitoring all phone conversations. On the other hand, creating and using email addresses under an assumed name is definitely a sign of something. A bit like walking into a bank with a ski mask on during the summer.

  2. “EPA also lacks an automated tool to create federal records from its new email system.”

    Appalling! Federal law requires such records and the lack of such should be a national scandal.

  3. e-mail accounts should not be open to easy discovery – to me, it violates the fifth amendment against forced self incrimination. It also costs a fortune. And it is too much like the snooping by the person who, in the Hank Williams tune “Mind Your Own Business” picks up the phone when it isn’t her ring.

  4. Meanwhile, if you break an environmental law you are guilty until you prove your innocence. Lack of knowledge of the law is not a valid defense.

  5. So…the private email accounts are a problem in that they can’t be managed in accordance with federal law. But the IRS is not going to stop using them and they have do not have adequate training on the relevant laws in regard to these email accounts. So nothing changes – everybody just pretends that there really isn’t a problem. Wonderful.

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