Lawmakers seek agency policies on email surveillance

Shutterstock.com

Top congressional Republicans are pushing the Office of Management and Budget to investigate electronic monitoring policies across all federal agencies.

In a March 5 letter to OMB acting Director Jeffrey Zients, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Oversight Committee chairman and Judiciary Committee ranking member, respectively, called for the Obama administration to look into electronic surveillance in the federal workforce.

“We request that OMB conduct a comprehensive survey of all federal agencies to determine agencies’ policies with respect to monitoring federal employees’ personal email accounts,” Issa and Grassley wrote.

They are seeking information regarding whether every agency has an official policy for monitoring employee email, whether the policy allows for employees to access personal accounts on government computers without fear of being monitored, and how the policy defines disclosures to Congress and the Office of Special Counsel.

The letter was prompted by details that recently surfaced regarding Food and Drug Administration whistleblowers who sent warnings concerning agency approval of faulty medical devices to OSC and congressional representatives, including Grassley’s office.

FDA employees sent the emails from their personal accounts using government computers. A government probe suggested FDA officials had monitored the correspondence to later harass or fire the employees.

OMB is reviewing the letter, according to spokeswoman Moira Mack.

“The Obama administration strongly supports whistleblower protections and has sought to deliver a more open and transparent government to make it more accountable to the American people,” Mack said.

(Image via Yellowj/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.