11.10.20

Senator Murray Tells Secretaries of Education, Labor and HHS to Preserve All Records

Senator Murray sends letters to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, and Secretary of HHS Alex Azar reminding them of their duty to preserve all records under the Federal Records Act

 

Senator Murray: “In light of the upcoming transition from President Donald Trump’s administration to President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, I am writing to remind you of the critical importance that records are preserved and managed appropriately under the Federal Records Act (FRA).”

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, sent letters to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, and Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar reminding them to comply with federal law and preserve all records as the end of the Trump Administration approaches. Under the Federal Records Act (FRA), agencies are required to preserve all records that document “the transaction of public business” or contain “informational value.”

 

“In light of the upcoming transition from President Donald Trump’s administration to President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, I am writing to remind you of the critical importance that records are preserved and managed appropriately under the Federal Records Act (FRA). These records are important to ensure a smooth transition between presidential administrations,” wrote Senator Murray.

 

In her letters, Senator Murray warned that, “Any agency employee who ‘willfully and unlawfully’ conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, destroys, or attempts any such action against a federal record, is subject to fine and/or imprisonment for up to three years.” She also stressed to the Secretaries that violating the FRA can disqualify them from future federal office and reminded them that they have an obligation to inform the Archivist of “any actual, impending, or threatened unlawful action against records at your agency.”

 

The letter to Secretary DeVos is HERE, the letter to Secretary Scalia is HERE, and the letter to Secretary Azar is HERE.

 

The full text of the letter is below.

 

November 7, 2020

 

The Honorable Alex M. Azar II

Secretary

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20201

 

Dear Secretary Azar,

 

In light of the upcoming transition from President Donald Trump’s administration to President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, I am writing to remind you of the critical importance that records are preserved and managed appropriately under the Federal Records Act (FRA).  These records are important to ensure a smooth transition between presidential administrations.

 

Pursuant to the FRA, the Department of Health and Human Services must preserve all records that document “the transaction of public business” or contain “informational value.” As Secretary, you are required to “make and preserve records containing adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions of the agency….”[1] These protections extend to all types of information, whether stored physically, digitally, or electronically.[2] 

 

Any agency employee who “willfully and unlawfully” conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, destroys, or attempts any such action against a federal record, is subject to fine and/or imprisonment for up to three years.[3] Any federal office holder convicted of violating the FRA can lose his or her position and can be disqualified from holding future federal office. You have the obligation to affirmatively inform the Archivist of any actual, impending, or threatened unlawful action against records at your agency.[4]

 

I appreciate your timely attention to this matter. 

 

Sincerely,

 

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[1]44 U.S.C. § 3301(a)(1)(A); 44 U.S.C. § 3101.

[2]44 U.S.C. § 3301(a)(2).

[3]18 U.S.C. § 2071(b).

[4]44 U.S.C. § 3106(b).