In a fitting end to his legacy as a strong proponent of transparency and open government, former Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) announced earlier this month that he will include all of his Committee emails in the records sent to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The newly retired Senator is the first chairman to archive his committee emails.
Lieberman chaired the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee from January 2007 to January 2013, having also served as chairman of its predecessor, the Government Affairs Committee, when Democrats held the majority from June 2001 to January 2003.
In addition to the committee records held by NARA, Lieberman’s personal papers will be deposited at the Library of Congress, including approximately 1,500 boxes of Lieberman’s personal and professional papers, personal and staff emails, and other electronic files. The archive will span his service as a Connecticut State Senator (1970-1981), Attorney General for Connecticut (1983-1989), four-term U.S. Senator (1989-2013), and as the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2000.
Over the course of his tenure as committee chairman, Senator Lieberman demonstrated a strong commitment to increased access to government information. AALL worked closely with Lieberman’s staff on the E-Government Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-347), which added language to increase public access to court records in the Public Access to Courts Electronic Records (PACER) system and protect the privacy of individuals’ personal information contained in those records. In his annual letter to Senate Appropriators detailing the funding needed for government management, Lieberman raised concerns that not enough efforts have been made to provide no-fee access to PACER. Over several congresses, Lieberman also worked to introduce important legislation to provide the public with access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) publications online and open access to the results of federally funding research.
The Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress continues to work actively to promote a more complete documentation of the legislative process. We encourage other committee chairs to follow the lead of Senator Lieberman and his commitment to government transparency and increased access to government information.