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Senators Express Concerns Over Trump Admin. Records Compliance

Gary Price at InfoDocket reports that Senators Claire McCaskill and Tom Carper from the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs sent a letter to David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States, "regarding concerns over compliance by President Donald Trump’s Administration with the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act."

The letter re-expresses concerns the Senators had already sent about reports that four senior Administration officials are maintaining active email accounts on a private email system, the President’s use of an unsecured smartphone, and White House officials’ use of social media platforms, such as Twitter, that may not comply with federal recordkeeping requirements.

The letter raises new concerns about the use by White House staff, including staff from the National Security Council and the Office of the Press Secretary, of the smartphone app known as Confide, which allows individuals to communicate digitally through messages that self-destruct, for work-related communications. The Senators say, "While our goal is not to encourage inappropriate leaks of presidential or federal records, prevention of any such leaks is not a recognized exception to federal recordkeeping requirements, nor does it outweigh statutory recordkeeping requirements."

The Senators ask the Archivist to respond to several questions about these reported activities including asking if NARA is aware of any instructions to Executive Office staff to avoid using email as a method of work-related communication.

Sourcebook of the United States Executive Agencies

GPO’s Government Book Talk blog posted an item yesterday about the Sourcebook of the United States Executive Agencies with links to the GPO online bookstore and a suggestion to search for hardcopies of the book in FDLP libraries, using WorldCat. The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt University has a digital copy (pdf) available online.

  • All the President’s Men and Women: Sourcebook of the US Executive Agencies, Government Printing Office, Government Book Talk blog (May 24, 2013).

    …a first-of-its-kind publication by the Administrative Conference of the United States.

    This first edition of the Sourcebook of the United States Executive Agencies was published in December 2012 to break down information and numbers by what they refer to as the “executive establishment,” which is the executive branch and all the other Federal agencies, offices, bureaus, and boards that serve the President that do not fall neatly under any of the three branches of the Federal government.


  • Sourcebook of United States Executive Agencies, [announcement] Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Vanderbilt University.
    • Sourcebook of the United States Executive Agencies, [pdf] David E. Lewis and Jennifer L. Selin, Administrative Conference of the United States, Vanderbilt University, First Edition, 2012.
    • ACUS Sourcebook Codebook/Appendix. [pdf] This document describes the data collected for theh ACUS Sourcebook of the United States Executive Agencies. It includes the codebook describing the variables and their coding and the statutory provisions justifying the coding.
    • ACUS Sourcebook Data. This Microsoft Excel spreadsheet includes data on 55 statutory characteristics for 10 agencies in the Executive Office of the President, 15 executive departments, and 81 independent agencies. The data was collected by a team of researchers during the summer of 2012. Data collection details are included in the accompanying Sourcebook Codebook and Appendix.

Smithsonian: the Vice Presidents that time forgot

For all you Presidential historians out there, the Smithsonian has a funny/sad/strange article about the history of the vice-presidency — a job that John Adams, the first vice-president, described as “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived” and John Nance Garner, the 32nd VP from 1933-1941, said “wasn’t worth a bucket of warm spit.” Read on. It may make you want to visit Huntington, Indiana and the Quayle Vice Presidential Learning Center (yes THAT Quayle :-)).

Read more:The Vice Presidents That History Forgot: The U.S. vice presidency has been filled by a rogues gallery of mediocrities, criminals and even corpses. Tony Horwitz. Smithsonian magazine, July-August 2012

The Constitution also failed to specify the powers and status of vice presidents who assumed the top office. In fact, the second job was such an afterthought that no provision was made for replacing VPs who died or departed before finishing their terms. As a result, the office has been vacant for almost 38 years in the nation’s history.

Until recently, no one much cared. When William R.D. King died in 1853, just 25 days after his swearing-in (last words: “Take the pillow from under my head”), President Pierce gave a speech addressing other matters before concluding “with a brief allusion” to the vice president’s death. Other number-twos were alive but absentee, preferring their own homes or pursuits to an inconsequential role in Washington, where most VPs lived in boardinghouses (they had no official residence until the 1970s). Thomas Jefferson regarded his vice presidency as a “tranquil and unoffending station,” and spent much of it at Monticello. George Dallas (who called his wife “Mrs. Vice”) maintained a lucrative law practice, writing of his official post: “Where is he to go? What has he to do?—no where, nothing.” Daniel Tompkins, a drunken embezzler described as a “degraded sot,” paid so little heed to his duties that Congress docked his salary.

[HT to BoingBoing!]

VP Records to be Preserved

This past Saturday, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered Dick Cheney to preserve all vice presidential records–huzzah! Read more about the case below:

Thanks again to Rebecca Blakeley to alerting me about this story!

In the News: Memorandum of Understanding Between the United States and Brazil to Advance Cooperation on Biofuels

Thanks to my colleague Shirl Kennedy at DocuTicker.com for posting direct links to this “in the news” document.

Memorandum of Understanding Between the United States and Brazil to Advance Cooperation on Biofuels

Also online is this DOS News Release.