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Grassley Seeks Explanation for Agency Preference for Paper Over Email

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley is asking the Department of Homeland Security to explain an apparent preference for providing Congress with paper rather than electronic documents, an irony given the agency’s interest in boosting its cybersecurity funding and expertise.

“It’s ironic that the agency striving for expertise on cybersecurity is reluctant to send emails to Congress,” Grassley said.  “It would be like if CBO presented estimates to Congress with an abacus or if the transportation secretary rode around town in a horse and buggy. The purpose of the letter is to find out what’s behind the apparent preference for paper over email.”

Grassley, with Rep. Darrell Issa, wrote to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to ask why the agency tells members of Congress that it is unable to produce documents to Congress electronically.  The apparent preference for paper is in contrast with the President’s executive order asking agencies to use electronic documents when possible and the Administration’s interest in increasing funding for Department of Homeland Security cybersecurity programs by $300 million.

Grassley’s encounter with the Department of Homeland Security’s apparent preference for paper responses is related to his December 2011 request in the Operation Fast and Furious inquiry.  The agency is beginning to respond, and the responses are coming in paper form and will result in thousands of pages if the entire request is fulfilled.  Agency representatives have told Grassley’s office that the paper preference is a policy, and the Grassley-Issa letter seeks verification and details.

The text of Grassley’s December 2011 request to the agency is available here.  The text of the Grassley-Issa letter to the agency this week is available here.

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