The Obama administration should seriously consider investing in better back-up systems, as emails requested by Congressional Republicans keep disappearing into the cyber abyss.
After admitting to losing emails key to a congressional investigation of the Internal Revenue Service as well as a separate batch of emails at the Environmental Protection Agency, the administration said Thursday that some Obamacare emails also “might not be able to be retrievable.”
That’s what Health and Human Services officials told lawmakers in a letter sent on Thursday. The emails were requested by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), who has been leading a spate of congressional investigations into IRS targeting of conservative groups as well as into Obamacare’s rocky rollout.
CMS has spent the entire year under intense congressional scrutiny after Obamacare’s botched rollout last fall, and the latest missing emails could revive attacks from House Republicans.
Still, for now, there is no evidence that suggests Marilyn Tavenner, the chief of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - the agency responsible for overseeing Obamacare - intentionally deleted any records. The letter instead suggests there are problems with the agency’s record keeping.
According to the letter, Tavenner receives huge droves of emails each month - between 10,000 and 12,000 - so she regularly deletes emails and sometimes didn’t follow agency procedure to make sure those were archived.
That response won’t likely suffice for Republicans who are expected to continue investigating the situation and who could potentially see it as another political scandal similar to when Lois Lerner, former IRS official, allegedly tried to cover up the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups.
“The Obama administration has lost or destroyed emails for more than 20 witnesses, and in each case, the loss wasn’t disclosed to the National Archives or Congress for months or years, in violation of federal law,” Issa said.
A similar situation occurred over at the EPA, where the agency’s chief, Gina McCarthy, told Congress that several emails about employee misconduct could not be obtained and provided to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee due to a hard drive crash.
McCarthy told skeptical lawmakers that the EPA had submitted all the documents it had…but there were “some gaps.”
"What is it with bureaucrats and public employees … the hard drives crash?” Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) asked at a congressional hearing last month.
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