WASHINGTON (AP) — Some of President Barack Obama's political appointees are using internal government email accounts that are separate from their external accounts to conduct official business, The Associated Press found.
The practice could complicate agencies' legal responsibilities to find and turn over emails under public records requests and congressional inquiries.
The AP asked for such addresses following last year's disclosures that former chiefs at the Environmental Protection Agency had used separate email accounts at work. The practice is separate from officials who use personal, nongovernment email accounts for work, which generally is discouraged due to laws requiring that most federal records be preserved.
Having separate accounts could put an agency in a difficult spot when it is compelled to search for and release emails as part of congressional or internal investigations, civil lawsuits and public records requests. That's because employees assigned to compile such responses would necessarily need to know about the accounts to search them. Secret accounts also drive perceptions that government officials try to hide actions or decisions.