Human error caused e-mail loss, White House says

Human error caused e-mail loss, White House says

A contractor failed to configure server to back up messages, administration tells committee members

By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

E-mail messages within the Office of the Vice President were not backed up between March 1998 and early April 1999 because the technician who set up a new operating system did not configure the office's server to do so, the Clinton administration recently said.

In March 1998, a White House contractor migrated the server in Vice President Gore's office to Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 but failed to set the server's configuration to back up e-mail messages, said Steven F. Reich, senior associate counsel to the president, in a June 7 letter to the House Government Reform Committee.

The White House hand-delivered the letter to James C. Wilson, the committee's chief counsel. Last month Wilson inquired about the White House's failure to supply the Gore e-mail as ordered in a March 9 subpoena from the committee in its campaign finance investigation.

During the NT conversion, the contractor'whom the White House has not identified'created a new drive for e-mail files and labeled it the e: drive.

'Technical personnel neglected to add the new e: drive to the server backup schedule,' Reich wrote. 'While backups of the [vice president's] server continued as before, they no longer captured e-mail that had been transferred to the new e: drive.'

The White House Office of Administration's Information Systems and Technology Division discovered the mistake on April 2, 1999.

It then reconfigured the server to make backup copies of e-mail in the Gore office, Reich wrote.

The administration acknowledged at recent House Government Reform Committee hearings about missing White House e-mail that it knew there were problems with backup copies of some vice presidential staff messages.

In earlier information sent to the committee, the administration said it did not know the extent of the problem [GCN, April 3, Page 1].

Initially, the White House Counsel's Office had assumed the White House Automated Records Management System, used by the Executive Office of the President since 1994, also managed e-mail records for Gore's office, Reich said.

But that was not the case until recently. The vice president's office had set up its own system and was making its own backup copies of documents, Reich said.

By early last month, the White House had moved all vice presidential staff members'
e-mail accounts to a new server so ARMS could scan all messages and make backup copies, Reich said.

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