Issa wants White House staffers to keep records when telecommuting

The telework bill passed by the House Wednesday includes an amendment from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) that would require White House staff members to keep records of any e-mails or social networking interactions that involve official business while teleworking.

The Presidential Records Act requires White House staff members to keep records of any e-mails or other messages that involve official business for posterity. Issa offered an amendment that would require any presidential or vice presidential records created on non-official e-mail or social media accounts while teleworking be copied to official e-mail accounts.

The White House reprimandedDeputy Chief Technology officer Andrew McGlaughlin in May for discussing policy issues with his former Google colleagues using his personal e-mail account. Since then Issa has waged a campaign demanding more details on the incident and pressuring the White House to reveal how it ensures staff members don’t use personal e-mail accounts and smartphones to evade the law.

The New York Times reported last month that lobbyists routinely get messages from staff members’ personal e-mail accounts, which would also violate an ethics pledge instituted by President Obama upon taking office last year.

An aide said the teleworking amendment is a positive step towards updating the law to reflect the rapid advancements in communications technology and the increasing number of platforms and devices White House employees use to communicate.

The Bush administration was heavily criticized by privacy advocates for being unable to produce millions of missing internal e-mails. The Obama administration has pledged to do a better job of complying with the law even as it works through how to save messages posted to sites such as Twitter and Facebook.