Having done record retention while I worked at the State Department, I can state that the system was just beginning to be digitized, and I was helping the Logistics Management group, and the Chief of Contracts begin that move. It wasn’t the branch office’s fault, specifications on what would be required to do the move were never fully provided because the set of credentials to meet the specifications were and are INCREDIBLY VAGUE. (I had a Unclassified but Sensitive Information Ban on me, if I seem vague, its because my Patriotism and Nationalism prevent me from possibly hurting the government, or getting in trouble with it. I love America, and I loved the State Department. At least my branch office, A/LM/OPS/TTM/TM. Shameless plug)
I spent a lot of time with old documents, because prior to the digitization policy, there wasn’t even a specified limitation on how long files must be retained. Some branches and administrations inside the State Department used 5 years, some 10, some didn’t even have an amount.
The reality is, it wouldn’t be unusual that the Secretary would have physical printouts of emails brought to her, or that she accessed her email off site. And sometimes, it would be even plausible that she used her private email, as some of the staff I worked with would do so when dealing with issues officially on days they were sick and could not telecommute. (due to State Department policy on what constituted telecommuting)
I see the fears and worries that perhaps her internet and priority or sensitive information could have been leaked. That being said, that’s a security dilemma across the agency as they begin this digitization switch because if they don’t possess the football, who does? All options have hazards of access.
Was she jeopardizing national security by doing this? Maybe, but I feel that this is a particularly murky area, and one that I spent 3 months doing for an entire office group. I’m sorry, but for once and maybe the last time in my life, I won’t give Hillary a whopping here. Why? The environment isn’t filled with IT or Computer Specialists, its accountants and bureaucrats. There were several policies that dealt with “10 things smart people don’t do with computers.”
I had to work with my boss for two months on figuring these things out. It was in the last month that I actually began the process of digitization, and that’s because the Obama administration did not create a clear set of definitions for the carryout of the process. It was vague, unsatisfying, and my boss who didn’t like unsafe technology, was especially worried and rightly so, about the security of the government information.
Is Secretary Clinton not guilty of accidental leaks and the wrong eyes seeing sensitive, priority, classified, and secret information? No…but at the same time, anyone in the State Department who wasn’t an IT expert to do the digitization carryover would be guilty of the same. The problem here is that the process showcased an endemic issue of bureaucracies: They are slow to change, slow to progress, and failing in optimization. Anyone who expected a different result when the Obama Administration released a set of vague guidelines would be insane. And anyone who thought the Administration could create a comprehensive set of guidelines to follow without an IT expert leading the change would also be insane.
Basically, Secretary Clinton may be guilty of a crime, but the crime was committed because there might have not been anyway to carry out the process without the crime occurring. Meaning, there would be a possibility of information being vulnerable during this process, even if she was in her office getting her own documents. I am not saying let it slide, but rather than crucifying the former State Secretary, why not use this as impetus to create a set of guidelines that make sense, and use corporate and internet standards, and then work with those companies to achieve the digitization policy.
Because I don’t have a Computer Science Degree, and I don’t have qualifications in System Administration or Security. But I acquired the experience of it because of this situation. At best, I had Information Technology experience, and I could help with computer software and standard Windows issues. I am actually a Subject Matter Expert on Information Retention and Security thanks to a 3-month Internship at A/LM/OPS/TTM/TM. That symbol, as the State Department calls it, stands for “Administration/Logistics Management/Operations/Transportation and Travel Management/and Travel Management.” Basically, we got cargo to and from places, and we took care of your cargo in case of problems. There were contractors, State Department employees, government agencies, and frustrations were rampant in the branch office because the branch office is the bad guy of the State Department. They were the “NO” department.