EPA Didn’t Use Alias E-Mails to Evade Rules: Auditor

Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency didn’t use private or alias e-mail addresses to circumvent public scrutiny, the agency’s watchdog said today.

The EPA’s Office of Inspector General found there is “no evidence” the agency used or promoted use of these e-mail accounts as a way to get around federal record-keeping rules. The auditors, however, urged the agency to enhance rules and training so that e-mails using secondary addresses or private accounts will be official records.

The auditors report was done in response to a request by lawmakers following the disclosure that former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, now a vice president at Apple Inc., used the e-mail account Windsor.Richard@epa.gov to communicate with White House officials and her top aides. Jackson says she created the secondary address because her official account received more than 1 million messages a year.

“EPA had not created records management policies and procedures for private e-mail account usage,” the inspector general said in a report today. “The EPA also risks the possibility that agency personnel are not capturing potential records needed to document agency decisions.”

Republicans in Congress such as House Oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa argued that Jackson and other officials failed to appropriately manage those records, allowing the agency to have communications or make decisions out of the public eye. In response to Freedom of Information Act requests, the agency has been searching through and releasing those Richard Windsor e-mails.

In its response to the audit, agency officials said they would “perform corrective actions” recommended by the inspector general.

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