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Cummings, Kelly Seek Subpoena for State Department Docs Withheld from Congress After Bipartisan Request

Aug 9, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (August 9, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Robin Kelly, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Information Technology, sent a letter to Chairman Trey Gowdy requesting that he issue a subpoena to the State Department for documents they have been withholding from the Committee for almost a year regarding the Department’s effort to shutter the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues (CCI). 

“The Department has not produced a single document in 2018 in response to our request,” the Ranking Members wrote. “As a result, we still do not have documents showing the basis of the Department’s decision to shutter CCI, planning for the reorganization of these functions, or any actions taken to implement the recommendations of an August 2017 Inspector General report warning that 77% of the Department’s reportable IT assets do not comply with the Federal Information Security Management Act.”

Last July, press accounts reported that the State Department was considering eliminating CCI’s critical role in responding to international cyber threats and shaping cyber policy.  In addition, then-Coordinator for Cyber Issues Chris Painter abruptly left his position after serving six-and-a-half years in that role.  Based on these reports, the members requested a briefing from the Department. 

During a staff briefing on August 24, 2017, Department officials refused to provide any details relating to the reorganization, and instead told staff that CCI’s functions remained a top priority and that they would provide additional information when it became available. Four days later, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to several congressional committees—but not Oversight— proposing the elimination of the CCI position and having its “functions and staff assumed by the Bureau of Economic & Business Affairs (EB).”

On September 21, 2017, Cummings, Gowdy, Kelly and Rep. Will Hurd sent a bipartisan letter asking the Department to produce eight categories of documents relating to who at the State Department would assume the responsibilities of maintaining CCI’s critical cyber functions and what resources would be dedicated to these areas if the office were closed.  Only 60 pages of documents were provided in response, omitting documents from multiple categories of the bipartisan request.  

Click here to read today’s letter. 

115th Congress