Retired Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., plans to turn over his committee emails to the National Archives, the committee announced Monday.
Lieberman is the first Senate committee chairman to voluntarily turn over his emails, which aren’t required to be archived under current law, Senate Archivist Karen Paul said. Access to the documents will be restricted by the Archives for a period between 20 years and 50 years depending on their contents, the announcement said.
Most executive branch records must be retained and archived but Congress is only required to turn over public documents such as the records of open congressional meetings, floor debates and bill texts.
Lieberman urged Senate colleagues to similarly turn over their emails in a statement accompanying Monday’s announcement, saying it is important to preserve the communications for future historians.
“I have long been a proponent of open government and transparency,” Lieberman said. “And because so much of our work is conducted electronically, it seemed logical for me to include my emails as part of my Senate archives. Presidential emails have been preserved since the Reagan administration. It’s time senators archive their emails as well, so the full, vibrant history of the Senate can continue to be written.”
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee oversees the National Archives among numerous other duties. Lieberman chaired the committee from 2001 until the expiration of the 112th Congress on Thursday, though the committee was known only as the Governmental Affairs Committee prior to 2004. His post will be filled in the 113th Congress by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.