On Tuesday evening, the Federal Records Accountability Act, H.R. 5170, introduced by Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC), passed the House unanimously. The bipartisan legislation would strengthen existing enforcement mechanisms to ensure that federal agencies and employees adhere to federal record keeping laws.
The bill, introduced in July by Congressman Meadows and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), strengthens existing record keeping laws to address the Administration’s recent failures to archive official records. H.R. 5170 was introduced following an ongoing scandal involving former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner who was under investigation for the targeting of politically-conservative groups. It came to light that Lerner and numerous other IRS employees failed to preserve or destroyed emails and other official communications relevant to the investigation, in violation of record keeping laws.
“In an open and transparent government, a Lois Lerner situation should never take place. The Federal Records Accountability Act will put intensified pressure on federal agencies and employees to comply with record keeping law,” Congressman Meadows stated.
H.R. 5170 creates a process for firing Administration employees—after thorough investigation— who willfully and unlawfully destroy federal records. Additionally, the legislation bars federal employees from using personal e-mails and other electronic communications to conduct official business as a means of intentionally bypassing record keeping laws, as we have seen employees within the EPA and IRS do.
“I’m grateful to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee for its help in advancing this legislation. I hope the Senate will act swiftly on this important bill,” Meadows added.