Are EPA Employees Violating Federal Record Keeping Requirements?

A House Committee is asking for an IG analysis of reports of EPA employees using encrypted forms of communication which may be in violation of federal record keeping requirements.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology has asked the Environmental Protection Agency’s Inspector General to conduct an investigation into reports that federal employees at the agency are using an encrypted messaging app to communicate.

The Committee said in a letter to the IG that they were concerned about reports that federal employees within the EPA are using covert communication methods to formulate a strategy against attempts by new political appointees to undermine the agency’s mission. The House Committee is concerned that these reports, if true, are violating federal record keeping requirements.

The Congressmen wrote in their letter:

Over the past few years, we have seen several examples of federal officials’ circumventing Federal Records Act requirements and transparency generally. In this instance, the Committee is concerned that these encrypted and off-the-record communication practices, if true, run afoul of federal record keeping requirements, leaving information that could be responsive to future Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and congressional requests unattainable.

The Committee specifically cited reports of EPA employees using Signal, an encrypted messaging app, to communicate in a way that avoids being monitored by the government.

The letter ultimately requested an analysis of the reports to determine if a full scale investigation is warranted. “We request that your office analyze the recent allegations in the media to determine whether it is appropriate to launch a full scale review of the situation,” wrote the Committee Chairmen.

2017-02-14 Letter to EPA IG Re: Encrypted Communications

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.