Washington, D.C. – Several Science, Space, and Technology Committee Republicans today sent a letter to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz requesting documents related to senior DOE officials’ use of personal e-mail to conduct official business.
It is unlawful for government employees to use personal email to conduct official business in order to avoid public records requirements, such as maintaining and preserving official records. The letter was sent by Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Energy Subcommittee Chairman Randy Weber (R-Texas), Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) and Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.).
“In light of recent reports that you [Secretary Moniz], as well as other top Department officials, have used private e-mail to conduct official work business, the Committee remains concerned that Department employees could be communicating with third party groups poised to influence Department policies,” the Members wrote.
A recent report from DOE’s Office of Inspector General, as well as recent media reports, indicates that the use of personal e-mail for official business within DOE may be widespread.
“The practice of using personal e-mail accounts to conduct official business raises serious questions about the Department’s posture with respect to safeguarding government records and information,” the letter states. “Given the Department’s work involving information that could be classified or otherwise sensitive, the potential exchange of such information through unsecured systems heightens the Committee’s concern that sensitive information could be subject to compromise or not captured in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) responses.”
The letter requests information and documents related to senior DOE officials’ email practices, as well as all e-mails exchanged over personal e-mail accounts for work purposes, including e-mails for senior officials located in the Office of the Secretary, Office of the Under Secretary for Science and Energy, Office of Science, Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis, and the Loan Program Office.
The full letter can be found HERE.