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House Passes Cummings’ Bill to Modernize Federal Email Preservation

Jul 16, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (July 16, 2018)—Today, the House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass legislation authored by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to modernize the way the federal government preserves email records.   

This bill, H.R. 1376, the Electronic Message Preservation Act,  modernizes the Federal and Presidential Records Acts by ensuring email records from federal agencies and the White House are preserved.  It addition, it requires these records to be retrievable through electronic searches.  This legislation passed in the House in 2014 with bipartisan support, but has yet to pass the Senate.

Below are Ranking Member Cummings’ remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the House floor today:

 Floor Statement of Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings H.R. 1376, Electronic Message Preservation Act

Floor Statement of Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings

H.R. 1376, Electronic Message Preservation Act

July 16, 2018

I rise in support of the Electronic Message Preservation Act.  I introduced this bill with the goal of modernizing the Federal and Presidential Records Acts. 

This bill would require the Archivist of the United States to issue regulations mandating that all federal agencies manage and preserve their email records electronically.

This bill would help ensure that email records from federal agencies and the White House are preserved. 

According to an October 2017 report from the National Archives and Records Administration, approximately 46% of agencies continue to print and file paper copies of email messages. 

These records are more likely to get lost and are harder for agencies to retrieve during records searches under the Freedom of Information Act. 

This bill would put into statute what agencies are already required to do under a directive issued by the Archivist and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

In 2016, the National Archives issued a document for agency records officers titled, “Why Agencies Need to Move Towards Electronic Recordkeeping.”  The document identified a number of reasons, including long term cost savings, information security, and more efficient and effective implementation of the Freedom of Information Act.

This bill also would require the Archivist to establish standards for the preservation and management of email records that are presidential records and to certify annually that the White House has records management controls in place that meet those standards. 

Under this bill, the Archivist must report one year after a president leaves office on whether the controls used by that president met the required standards.

This legislation would provide accountability to encourage every president to have the controls in place that are necessary to preserve emails and other electronic records. 

This bill has been passed by the House with bipartisan support several times before.  I urge my colleagues to support the bill again today, and I hope the Senate will act on the bill and send it to the President’s desk before the end of the year. 

115th Congress