Republicans question extent of agencies' spying on federal employees

"FDA obtained e-mails not only from employees' work accounts, but also from their private, personal e-mail accounts," they wrote. "While such monitoring may be lawful for personal e-mails sent or received on government equipment, [the Office of Special Counsel] is investigating a fact pattern that leaves open the possibility that FDA obtained access to personal e-mails that may have been transmitted from home commuters or cell phones. In fact, FDA may have intercepted passwords to the personal e-mail accounts of its employees for the purpose of logging in to search for archived messages to and from Congress and OSC."

The letter requests that Zients conduct a "comprehensive survey of all federal agencies" to determine their policies regarding monitoring of employee communications.

Six current and former FDA employees sued the government in January alleging that the agency pried into their personal email accounts and retaliated against them after they shared with Congress concerns about the approval process for medical devices. At least one of the workers has been fired.