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Cloud Services Could Save Government Documents (Take Note, Hillary)

April 08, 2015 by

Government documents and records must be accessible at all times, whether it's at the request of a federal official or the public. If information isn't saved correctly, there could be a plethora of problems for all involved. Cloud services and unified communications can ensure federal documents are catalogued to a secure server.

The Secrets of Personal Accounts

In today's society, Internet users are inundated by emails, anything from retail sales to school and work documents. With current technology, all emails, no matter what address they go to, can be forwarded to one account that is accessible from any device or even backed up to the cloud for safe keeping. This provides users with instant access to all their emails without having to sign in to multiple accounts.

However, not everyone uses this system - Hillary Clinton being one of them. Recently, the former U.S. secretary of state was accused of using a personal email address for government communications, The New York Times reported. While this may not seem too serious, her use of a non-federal account has placed her under scrutiny for her secret exchanges. Under the Freedom of Information Act, the public has access to government records. However, if communications were not made using a government email address, the FOIA can't compel Clinton to release her messages. Fortunately, she has handed over 50,000 emails.

The Electronic Code of Federal Regulations states that any government employee using a non-government email address must ensure any communications are saved to a federal record-keeping system. Yet Clinton didn't do this. She kept her personal email private and unrecorded. Cloud-based unified communications could have helped her archive any messages she sent or received.

Text Messaging Snafu

Clinton's emails aren't the only ones that could have benefited from cloud-based services. The Environmental Protection Agency lost a good portion of its text messages from top-ranking officials from government-issued devices, The Daily Caller reported. Nearly 5,000 messages have been deleted and omitted from federal records.

Under the EPA's records management policies, it is up to the employee to ensure any message relating to government responsibilities is transferred to the agency's records, according to a letter from the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. However, messages to and from EPA Chief Gina McCarthy didn't make it onto the server before they were lost.

The texts in question were requested by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which never received them. The EPA blamed a software update for the deletion of the texts, but if the agency had used a cloud service, all information would have been backed up and retrievable. Instead, any communications between McCarthy and her coworkers were gone.

Cloud-based communications might have saved both Clinton and the EPA from their current dilemmas by providing easy access and backups to government records.

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