ObamaCare office may have lost emails sought in Oversight probe

The federal agency in charge of ObamaCare acknowledged this week that its chief may have deleted some emails that are now being sought by congressional Republicans.

A records management official with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) alerted the National Archives of the potential breach in a letter dated Wednesday.

First reported by MSNBC, the letter said that "most, but not all" of CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner's emails were saved in agency records as required by law.

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Tavenner maintains a public email address that receives thousands of messages per month. She usually, but not always, forwarded the emails to staff prior to deleting them, according to the agency.

"While we have not identified any specific emails that we will be unable to retrieve, it is possible that some emails may not be available to [the CMS], and we are therefore filing this memorandum," CMS records official Kathleen Cantwell wrote.

The notice is a response to the House Oversight Committee's investigation into the problems that plagued ObamaCare's rollout last fall.

While the letter does not confirm wrongdoing on Tavenner's part, it could hand ammunition to GOP lawmakers who have tangled with the administration over record-keeping in other inquiries.

House Republicans have suggested that former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner intentionally wiped her computer hard drive in order to avoid scrutiny over the agency's targeting of conservative groups.

The IRS says the hard drive crashed on its own, resulting in a loss of the data.

CMS officials said the agency has turned over nearly 135,000 documents to Oversight Committee Republicans and that staffers are working successfully to reconstruct Tavenner's email history.

"An initial analysis gives us confidence that the vast majority of Administrator Tavenner’s email records are retrievable," CMS spokesman Aaron Albright said.

"To date, we have identified more than 71,000 emails which include Administrator Tavenner that contain search terms agreed upon with the committee. There are no significant chronological gaps, and we are working to compile the most complete email record for her as possible."