GOP Rep. says HHS may be trying to evade record-keeping laws

Whistleblowers have accused the Obama administration of using instant-messaging software to evade federal record-keeping rules, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) said Tuesday.

Boustany, who chairs the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, said the accusations pertain to officials in the Health and Human Services Department who are tasked with implementing parts of President Obama's signature healthcare law.

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"Recently, whistleblowers have alleged that political appointees within HHS have been using instant messaging software to communicate with career employees, ostensibly in an effort to circumvent federal law," Boustany wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Federal law requires agencies to preserve records related to their official business.

"Though these rules were written in the time of typewriters, they continue to apply in a time of modern electronic mail and instant messaging, improvements in technology that have offered government employees faster and more efficient methods of communication," Boustany wrote.

He said the same record-keeping rules apply to instant-messaging software and asked HHS to describe its policies for archiving electronic records.

A Ways and Means spokesperson could not elaborate on the whistleblowers' complaints.