White House Describes New Archiving System to Prevent Lost Emails

The White House’s recent settlement with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the National Security Archive (the Archive) over the Bush Administration’s missing emails required the Executive Office of the President (EOP) to provide a public description of the system it uses to manage and preserve its electronic records.

On January 15, the EOP sent a letter to CREW and the Archive, describing the current system in use to capture, back-up and preserve its electronic records. The EMC Corporation’s Email Xtender (EX) system has several important features, including:

  • Automatic capture, in near real-time, of all email messages sent or received on the EOP’s unclassified network, including those sent to or from Blackberries;
  • A searchable online archive with access controls and audit reporting;
  • Systematic back-ups of the system on disaster recovery tapes; and
  • The ability to segregate emails and differentiate between Presidential Records Act and Federal Records Act entities.

As noted by CREW and the Archive, the new system is a significant improvement over the one used by the Bush Administration, which lacked controls, reliable back-ups and advanced search capabilities. With its automatic back-ups, audits and controls against the unauthorized deletion of emails, the new system will preserve the Obama Administration’s emails and ensure against the disappearance of important electronic records.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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