White House Reprimands Deputy CTO for Improper E-mail

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Did officials learn nothing from Sarah Palin's e-mail woes during the 2008 presidential campaign? Apparently the federal government's deputy CTO didn't. InformationWeek reports Tuesday that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy officially reprimanded Andrew McLaughlin, a former Google executive, for using personal e-mail to send work-related missives and for using Google Buzz to keep in touch with employees at Google.


The reprimand follows a letter in which Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., asked McLaughlin to "clarify his compliance with the Presidential Records Act."


I've covered the Presidential Records Act extensively in the past, mostly in the context of President Obama's BlackBerry. At its core, the legislation requires all communications sent or received by or on behalf of the president in his official capacity should be maintained for posterity. That includes e-mail sent and received by White House staffers. So McLaughlin should have at least forwarded the work-related e-mails in his personal account to his OSTP account so they could be properly archived.


InformationWeek says the Google Buzz communications violated the president's ethics pledge, under which McLaughlin reportedly agreed not to discuss matters within the sphere of his official duties with Google personnel. But beyond that, the content of those messages should also be maintained for the presidential record. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs knows his Twitter posts are archived, right? Buzz is no different than Twitter.


In a statement, OSTP representatives did indicate that the Google Buzz posts were "incidental" with "no effect on policy decisions."