In an effort to comply with a lawsuit settlement and to show how the current White House plans to preserve its e-mails the Obama Administration last week released details of its e-mail archiving strategy.
The strategy has provisions for averting the problems that caused the loss of millions of e-mails during the George W. Bush administration.
Details of the plan came in a letter to the two parties in that suit, the National Security Archive and Citizens for Reform and Ethics in Washington. In December, the White House agreed to, among other things, catalog the White House's current e-mail archiving and backup systems, and provide a detailed description of controls that prevent unauthorized deletion of e-mail records.
Those organizations had sued the White House in 2007 after reports that millions of White House e-mail records had gone missing after the Bush Administration abandoned an e-mail records management system that had been installed during the Clinton Administration upon moving from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange.
According to the letter, the White House has been using EMC's EmailXtender e-mail management software since Obama's first day in office. The letter says the White House chose EMC's product because of its security, central management, ability to automatically and in near-real time capture messages sent even from Blackberries. It also cited the EMC system's ability to archive messages in their original formats and convert them to another format for transfer to NARA's e-records system, and its ability to provide a searchable online archive and audit reports, among other features.
The White House now fully and automatically backs up its e-mails to a secure off-site data center on the second Tuesday of each month, with incremental backups several times each week and "frequent" tape back-ups. Audits verify that only authorized individuals access the repositories and the EMC system alerts the White House if anyone tries to delete an e-mail without permission, the letter says.