Many Tech Questions About Missing White House E-Mails

Susan Hall

Outlook Power magazine runs an interesting piece on recent hearings by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform into the missing White House e-mails. As many as 1,000 days of e-mails are estimated to be missing.

Author David Gewirtz finds much he considers appalling, from an IT professional's point of view. He wonders:

  • why White House e-mail is stored on PST files, many of which may already be corrupted.
  • why a migration from Lotus Notes to Outlook was undertaken during the build-up to the invasion of Iraq.
  • whether White House and certain members of Congress are mischaracterizing Lotus Notes to justify migration at that time.
  • why the cost of data recovery is being inflated. Could it be to dissuade Congress from pushing for recovery?
  • why no one at the White House "owns" the problem of e-mail sent on the Republican National Committee's system.
  • and why the RNC is allowed to say it won't restore e-mails sent from its servers, as this Washington Post story explains.

A White House computer expert called the e-mail set-up "primitive," one with a high risk that information would be lost, according to this Associated Press story in the Post. And a second AP story in the Post concludes:

The picture emerging from testimony and court filings is one of disregard for fundamental principles that well-run private companies adhere to routinely.

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