National Archives lost 2TB drive from Clinton years

"The nation's record keeper" - the National Archives and Record Administration - has lost a two-terabyte hard drive containing digital records from Bill Clinton's presidency. In a statement, NARA said that it "takes very seriously the loss of an external hard drive that contained copies of electronic storage tapes from the Executive Office of the President of the Clinton Administration.

"The nation's record keeper" - the National Archives and Record Administration - has lost a two-terabyte hard drive containing digital records from Bill Clinton's presidency.

In a statement, NARA said that it "takes very seriously the loss of an external hard drive that contained copies of electronic storage tapes from the Executive Office of the President of the Clinton Administration." The agency said that it has reviewed its internal information controls and improved its security processes. (InfoWeek)

It's not just Clinton's privacy that's affected. It contains names and SSNs of an untold number of visitors. It contains snapshots of the hard drives of departing administration officials, information that had been stored on 113 4mm tape cartridges.

Proof positive, it's fair to say, that NARA's security procedures are "fatally flawed," as a panel of records management folks told a House hearing today, reports NextGov.

"NARA's use of technology appears to be focused on making NARA a museum, rather than a lead agency on life-cycle management of records for public access and government accountability," said Patrice McDermott, director of OpenTheGovernment.org, a group advocating more transparency in government. "The issue of records management of e-mail is the iceberg below this tip. NARA's policy in this area is fatally flawed."

Meredith Fuchs, general counsel for The George Washington University's National Security Archives, said:

[NARA has] been passive [in] trying to update records management practices at most federal agencies. The result is that not much changes in federal records management until there is a scandal, such as the public exposure of the loss of millions of federal record e-mails at the White House.

All of which makes proposals for agencies to embrace social networking seem far distant. "That's a whole new level of complexity that I don't think we even had in the Bush administration," she said.