SAA Supports NARA Inquiry into Ross’ Use of Private Email to Conduct Government Business

October 29, 2019—The Society of American Archivists (SAA) supports the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) inquiry into Wilbur Ross' alleged misuse of private email to conduct government business.[1] Title 44, Chapters 21, 29, and 31, of the United States Code identifies NARA as the institution that is officially responsible for federal records management and invests in them the authority to investigate violations of records law and propose remedies when violations are confirmed. As more reports of elected and appointed officials failing to meet their recordkeeping obligations come to light, SAA applauds and encourages NARA's active oversight and investigation.

Misuse of private mail and other communication platforms is an ongoing problem for officials at all levels of government, despite public records laws and regulations that govern the creation and management of official records. SAA once again calls on all elected and appointed government officials to be familiar with—and to comply with—all local, state, and federal recordkeeping laws and requirements. Managing email is just one part of a comprehensive government archives and records program that facilitates efficient conduct of government programs and services, ensures effective management of government information, and provides appropriate documentation of government activities. Use of unofficial, non-government email accounts rather than official government accounts violates the transparency and openness that the public requires from its government, makes it difficult to hold public officials accountable, unnecessarily mixes government and personal records, and ultimately jeopardizes the accessibility of the archival record by the American people.

Read the recently revised Joint Statement on Conducting Public Business in Non-governmental Email Accounts: https://www2.archivists.org/statements/joint-statement-on-conducting-public-business-in-non-government-email-accounts

Read NARA's letter to the Department of Commerce:  https://www.archives.gov/files/records-mgmt/resources/ud-2020-0001-doc-open-letter.pdf



[1] National Archives probes Wilbur Ross' use of private email, https://www.politico.com/news/2019/10/24/wilbur-ross-private-email-national-archives-056287