The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issues Bulletin 2008-05, which states that every government email system is supposed to “permit easy and timely retrieval,” and all work emails are supposed to be permanently preserved. Additionally, in the case of a cabinet secretary, permanent records are to be sent to the department’s Records Service Center “at the end of the Secretary’s tenure or sooner if necessary” for safekeeping. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)
Instead, an acting inspector with close ties to State Department leadership fills the role. An “inspector general” is an internal watchdog tasked with discovering mismanagement and corruption. The position goes vacant in January 2008. President Obama doesn’t nominate anyone to fill the position for more than four years, making it the longest time any department ever went without a permanent one.
Five months after Clinton leaves office, Obama nominates Steve Linick, who is confirmed as the new permanent inspector general three months later, on September 30, 2013.
In 2015, the Wall Street Journal will write, “The lack of a confirmed inspector general raises questions about oversight of the department under Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton. The department has been criticized for its failure to gather and archive the email records of Mrs. Clinton and other officials and for responses to public-record requests that lawmakers and advocacy groups say were insufficient… It isn’t clear whether Mrs. Clinton had any role in the lack of a nomination.”
The acting inspector general during Clinton’s term, Harold Geisel, is banned from taking the job permanently due to conflict of interest rules. Matthew Harris, a professor who researches inspectors general, will later comment, “It’s a convenient way to prevent oversight.” Acting inspectors general “don’t feel empowered; they don’t have the backing of their people. They’re in a position where they could be removed at any moment.”
Representative Ed Royce (R), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will later suggest, “A permanent IG [inspector general] would have objected to [Clinton’s] efforts to circumvent congressional oversight by keeping her emails off the books.”
The White House has yet to explain why it waited so long to nominate a replacement. (The Wall Street Journal, 3/24/2015)