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news > Ruling on Preservation of White House E-Mails Awaited > White House E-mail Chronology

White House E-mail Chronology

January 20, 2001
Inauguration of President George W. Bush.
February 26, 2001
White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales informs White House staff they must preserve their e-mail because “[a]ny e-mail relating to official business ... qualifies as a Presidential record,” even if it is received on a personal e-mail account.
June 4, 2001 Bush announces plan to name a White House Chief Information Officer (CIO) to manage and monitor e-mail.

White House Office of Administration (OA) decides to move from a Lotus Notes e-mail system to a Microsoft Exchange system for the Executive Office of the President (EOP).  OA tries a new system to convert and format Microsoft Exchange e-mails into a format for Automated Records Management System (ARMS) processing and storage.  ARMS was the e-mail archiving system put in place by the Clinton Administration to archive all of its e-mails so that they would be preserved and searchable.  They eventually determine that they cannot continue to use ARMS but decide that the transition to Microsoft Exchange will occur with the existing ARMS while a new archiving project gets underway. 

2002 Between 2002 and 2003, Bush administration migrates White House e-mail from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange.
December 2002 - May 2003 ECRMS draft plan reviewed and approved by White House Office of Administration (OA) Counsel, White House Office of Records Management and White House Counsel.
January 3, 2003

Start date of period of missing e-mails.

January 24, 2003 The OA Office of the Chief Information Officer (“OCIO”) issues a memorandum to the OA seeking funding approval for the Electronic Communications Records Management System (ECRMS).  It writes “the ARMS system was implemented in 1994 to meet an urgent requirement for the capture and management of E-mail records within the EOP. The system was never intended to be the long-term strategic solution. Because of changes in technology, the increasing use of E-mail and other forms of electronic communication and other operational risk factors, it is becoming increasingly necessary to replace the system.”  “If not funded, existing issues with electronic mail record management will go unresolved.  This could open the door to additional legal proceeding [sic] for the EOP.” In the interim, EOP institutes process to manually label and archive each component’s Exchange .pst (Personal Storage Table) files every day—which former CIO Carlos Solari called a “temporary” and “short-term situation” for e-mail preservation.

March-April 2003

EOP, OA and National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) communicating about ECRMS concept. It appears that “BCC” information from backlogged e-mails may already be lost under the temporary solution. By April 29, 2003, approval for design, deployment and user training for ECRMS records management system. Contractor to be selected.

May 23, 2003 The earliest date on which data was written to White House disaster recover backup tapes that remained unrecycled as of May 2008.

October 17, 2003

EOP selects Booz Allen Hamilton to perform first stage of work on ECRMS, based on August 21 proposal.

October 2003 (unknown date)
White House CIO stops "recycling" backup tapes.
January 6, 2004 Meeting between EOP and NARA officials during which “[t]he NARA team emphasized that EOP was operating at risk by not capturing and storing messages outside the email system.”
February 2004 Microsoft writes a “post-mortem” analysis of the EOP’s efforts to find e-mails subpoenaed in January 2004 in connection with the investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame’s covert CIA status. The document identifies several problems encountered when searching for the requested e-mails, including the lack of a mechanism to transfer e-mail from Microsoft Exchange to the EOP’s Automated Records Management System (AMRS).
April - May 2004 Completed ECRMS solution design is presented to OA Counsel, White House Office of Records Management and White House Counsel for review/approval.
January 2005 - October 2005 ECRMS System configuration, testing, tuning.
July 28, 2005

Last day listed in November 2005 Report with either zero e-mail (“Red Days"), or suspiciously low e-mail tallies (“Yellow Days”) within the day’s e-mail archive.

October 2005
Office of Administration discovers that some e-mail may not have been archived properly. OA’s detailed analysis later revealed hundreds of days between January 3, 2003, and July 28, 2005, when e-mails were missing for one or more EOP components, totaling approximately 5 million. OA briefs White House Counsel Harriet Miers and Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald on the e-mail retention process.

Throughout October 2005

E-mail traffic indicates that pst files are being manually generated and there are concerns that OA is falling behind in creating new pst files to store e-mail.  In addition, there are discussions about searching and moving pst files from the Office of the Vice President (OVP) in order to conduct searches under subpoenas issued in the investigation about the disclosure of Valerie Plame’s covert CIA status.  There appear to have been many concerns that the OVP pst files were not the right size, about unaccounted for movement of pst files, and that e-mails were missing. 

October 25, 2005 Discussion document regarding risk management for the email archive process. The document notes several problems with the current process, including that “[t]he email archive process depends on manual operations and monitoring,” “[s]tandard operating procedures for email management do not exist,” and “[t]here is no dedicated archive location[, so] [e]mails have been stored in various locations.”  
October 31, 2005
  • Oversight Team member states in an e-mail that he or she is “troubled that there seems to be a lot of dates for which there is little e-mail” and that e-mails from some days appear to be altogether missing.
  • Suggestion for an ECRMS refresher session to last about 15 minutes. Microsoft Handbook “Journaling with Exchange Server 2003” is circulated to the Message Store Team.
November 2005

Oversight Team compiles data showing 473 days on which EOP components reported no e-mails. In addition there are 229 days on which e-mail counts appear too low.

Findings 2005 Missing E-mail Report


Red Days

Yellow Days

White House Office



Office of the Vice Pres.



Office of Public Diplomacy



National Security Council



President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board



Council of Economic Advisors



Council on Environmental Quality



Office of Management and Budget



Office of National Drug Control Policy



Office of Science and Technology Policy



Office of the United States Trade Representative



Office of Administration






November 11, 2005 Final draft of Standard Operating Procedures for Exchange Archive circulated.
November 14, 2005 Steven McDevitt, then-Director of Architecture and Engineering for the White House Office of the Chief Information Officer sends memo to Acting CIO John Straub, warning that “the current process and lack of storage management limitations result in potential loss of emails.  Lost or misplaced email archives in turn result in an inability to meet statutory requirements.”
November 17, 2005 Emergency request to create a new e-mail file management system to allow for more effective monitoring of e-mail files.
January 23, 2006
Letter from Special Counsel Fitzgerald to Libby Defense Attorneys indicating “we have learned that not all e-mail of the Office of Vice President and the Executive Office of the President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system.”
February 2, 2006 NARA officials contact the White House Counsel, reminding them that NARA should be contacted prior to destruction of Presidential records. In a response on February 6, 2006, OA Counsel informs NARA that White House “believed that the emails existed and could be accounted for.”
May 2006
Theresa Payton begins tenure as White House CIO.
May 15, 2006 Someone in the OCIO states in an e-mail that ECRMS is “the most important system that we have implemented in a long time” and “our number 1 priority.”
August 1, 2006 EOP explains it needs a Microsoft Exchange Engineer to establish a recoverable email architecture. The writer notes, “The EOP has been unsuccessful in establishing recoverable email for well over a year.”

August 4, 2006

EOP hires an Exchange engineer from Middlesex Group to analyze the current message system and rework the system to support the mission and goals of EOP.
August 21, 2006

ECRMS ready to go live, pending approval of OA director and CIO Payton.

October 2006 Payton decides to not implement ECRMS, citing concern over the predicted 18-month “ingestion” of backlogged messages (although the ingestion would have been complete by the end of Pres. Bush’s second term,) and the inability for staff to distinguish records subject to the PRA and FRA from political or personal e-mail (despite the fact that OA Counsel had previously approved this aspect of the ECRMS system.)
February 6, 2007 NARA staff meet with CIO Payton and OA staff. OA tells NARA that it will not implement ECRMS, “and therefore emails are no longer being preserved in a formal electronic recordkeeping system. . . .  OA gives NARA no indication that there is a problem with any missing emails.”
March 2007 (approximately) EOP draft discussion document states that the ECRMS project was discontinued because of “concerns that the project would not fully meet records management and operational requirements.” The document states that the OA was reviewing “a new, fully compliant solution.”
April 2007 OCIO determines there were deficiencies with the software used in 2005 to gather date and component information about e-mail files. For some e-mails, the software did not provide the received date. The software was also incapable of providing counts greater than 32,767 messages per day, meaning the 2005 chart’s data might be incomplete. 
April 12, 2007 Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (“CREW”) releases report based on information from two confidential sources detailing loss of more than 5 million e-mails generated between March 2003 and October 2005.
April 13, 2007
White House spokesperson Dana Perino comments, "I wouldn't rule out that there were a potential 5 million emails lost."
April 16, 2007 Perino says, "[W]e are aware that there could have been some emails that were not automatically archived because of a technical issue."
April 25, 2007

White House Counsel meets with “key members of NARA’s senior staff” to brief them on e-mail situation. NARA makes its first of several requests for a copy of the 2005 Report detailing missing/low e-mail days, and urges commencement of restoration program.

A week after this meeting, Allen Weinstein, Archivist of United States, sends a letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding, urging the White House to commence restoration of lost e-mail.
May 2, 2007
Senator Patrick Leahy subpoenas missing e-mail in US Attorney scandal.
May 21, 2007 NARA representatives met with several senior White House officials for a briefing on the White House e-mail problem. Associate White House Counsel Chris Oprison stated that “they believe the problem relates to gaps in emails on the EOP system from late 2003 to late 2005, but . . . could not assure that the problem does not extend beyond that timeframe, and even into the present.”
May 29, 2007 Deputy General Counsel of OA, Keith Roberts, informs staffers in House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Committee that low/missing days in 2005 Report correspond with period when .pst files were manually archived.

June 26, 2007

EOP decides to install EMC records management software to begin archiving e-mail. EOP says EMC was chosen in part because it was the easiest system to implement before the end of the Bush Administration on Jan. 20, 2009.

July 2007

OA and InfoReliance begin to communicate about a system to index and analyze messages in PST files which would eventually become Phase II of a three phase e-mail recovery process. 

August 2, 2007

Phase I of e-mail recovery process is started.  Its purpose was to “study the 2005 review and to recreate the inventory underlying that review, but with better technology.” Everett Decl. at 5.  Phase I was conducted at the PST file level.

Statement of Work issued for 2007 file search system improvement. SOW details specific technical problems with the current search tool, FindIt, which the contractor will be required to remedy.
August 10, 2007 OCIO awards contract for Phase II PST indexing to InfoReliance Corp., with a period of performance from Aug. 13, 2007 to Nov. 12, 2007 and at a cost of $81,000. Phase II was to be performed at the individual message level.
August 16, 2007 InfoReliance kicks off search and index project. Finish date for the project set for Nov. 12, 2007.

August 27, 2007

The Messaging Team discovers several missing pst files that were limited to emails in the Council of Economic Advisors and the Council of Environmental Quality from August 8th and 11th through 27th.  These missing files are attributed to “inadvertent deletion of electronic mail storage.” 

September 5, 2007

The National Security Archive sues White House defendants and NARA, seeking the recovery and preservation of more than 5 million e-mails under the Federal Records Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

In an internal NARA memo to Archivist Allen Weinstein, NARA General Counsel Gary Stern states that “we still know virtually nothing about the status of the alleged missing White House emails” and “it is vital that any needed backup restoration project begin as soon as possible, in order that it be completed before the end of the Administration.”

September 14, 2007 E-mail among EOP employees discussing why EOP rejected InfoReliance’s first invoice – one employee says the EOP has not received the portion of the contract value that they are being billed for. E-mail also states that InfoReliance is questioning EOP’s rejection of the invoice.
September 19, 2007 White House briefs House Oversight Committee staff, providing access to the 2005 Report with spreadsheet showing more than 700 days with low or no e-mail for at least one EOP component.
September 25, 2007 CREW files lawsuit nearly identical to that of the National Security Archive, seeking preservation of missing White House e-mails.

October 2007

Contract project put on hold because of a delay in required security clearance for InfoReliance staff.
October 10, 2007 Theresa Payton briefs House Oversight Committee staff and attempts to cast doubt on reliability of 2005 Report, noting that CIO staffers are unable to replicate report’s findings.
October 11, 2007 Meeting between NARA officials and White House CIO. White House staff informed NARA that its analysis of missing e-mails had been delayed again and would not be ready for six weeks. NARA warned the White House that they should begin planning for a restoration project, which would be necessary if doubt remained that all messages were preserved. NARA requested again to review the 2005 Report, but it was not made available.
October 26, 2007

The National Security Archive files a motion seeking expedited discovery against the Executive Office of the President to find out more about missing e-mails.

On November 9, 2007, defendants file their opposition to the Archive’s discovery motion.

October 31, 2007 NARA officials given opportunity to review, although prohibited from copying, the 2005 Report.
November 2007 OCIO completes an analysis of the methods and results of the 2005 e-mail count chart. The analysis raises questions about the methods used to arrive at the results in the 2005 chart. For example, the document states that it’s unknown how the 2005 team decided on a specific threshold to determine whether there was an unusually low volume of e-mails on a particular day. 
November 12, 2007 Judge Henry Kennedy of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia consolidates the two cases separately filed by the National Security Archive and CREW and grants a Temporary Restraining Order, directing EOP to preserve all e-mail backup media in its possession.
November 29, 2007 The government files a motion to dismiss, arguing that plaintiffs’ claims are not reviewable and that plaintiffs lack standing.  On December 13, 2007, the Archive files its opposition to the motion to dismiss.  The government replies on December 26, 2007, and the Archive responds again on December 28, 2007.
December 2007 InfoReliance staff pass security clearance. Contract project resumes, a month after the project was estimated to be completed.
December 4, 2007 White House spokesman Scott Stanzel states, “We are aware that some e-mails may not have been automatically archived in the past, but they may be available on backup tapes. … The Office of Administration at the White House has been maintaining and preserving backup tapes for the official email system.”
December 14, 2007 EOP sends e-mail to InfoReliance stating several concerns with InfoReliance’s plans to revamp the search tool, namely InfoReliance’s lack of a sufficient quality assurance plan.
December 21, 2007 EOP grants InfoReliance’s request to extend the period of performance by 30 days to the end of January to allow InfoReliance to correct deficiencies in documents reporting to EOP.
January 8, 2008 Magistrate Judge Facciola orders the White House to answer questions about the missing e-mails, noting that the need for information on the missing e-mails is “time-sensitive” because of the risk that stored copies of the e-mails “are increasingly likely to be deleted or overridden with the passage of time.”
January 15, 2008 In response to Judge Facciola’s order, the White House, in a declaration by CIO Theresa Payton, refuses to acknowledge any missing e-mails but states that it “has undertaken an independent effort to determine whether there may be anomalies in Exchange e-mail counts” and discloses that it had recycled e-mail back-up tapes before October 2003.
January 17, 2008 White House spokesman Tony Fratto states in a press briefing that “we have no reason to believe than any e-mail at all are missing.” Fratto said the correctness of the data in the 2005 e-mail count chart could not be verified.
January 18, 2008
Responding toWhite House spokesman Tony Fratto's comments, Waxman sends a letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding, citing the nearly 500 days with zero e-mails archived identified in the 2005 Report.
February 14, 2008

Telephone briefing with Oversight Committee Staff and Theresa Payton and Emmett Flood.

Payton says CIO is using newer software tool to analyze e-mails/perform search and has recovered about 100 .pst files with names that do not correspond with their contents.

February 21, 2008 Former EOP IT staffer Steven McDevitt submits response to Oversight Committee’s interrogatories, revealing that he had identified and informed EOP officials about serious risks with post-ARMS e-mail archiving as early as 2003.
February 22, 2008

Telephone briefing with Oversight Committee Staff and Theresa Payton and Emmett Flood reports that 23 million previously uncounted e-mails were discovered.

Staff has “found” e-mail for at least some of the days that 2005 Report indicates had no e-mails preserved. Payton could not specifically quantify how many were found for these days. Some e-mails found for “all of the missing days for the White House Office, the Office of Policy Development, and the Office of Management and Budget. Similarly, some e-mails had been found for 5 of 16 missing days for the Office of the Vice President.” Findings described as “preliminary” and Payton cautions that analysis will not be complete until “sometime in March.”

February 26, 2008 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on White House E-mail situation.
March 2008

Phase I of e-mail recovery process appears to be complete by March 2008.  OA claims “(1) that the ‘zero’ message component –day count had dropped from 473 to 293; and (2) that the total message count for the electronic inventory had increased from approximately 81 million counted in the 2005 review to a new total of approximately 94 million.”  Everett Decl. at 6.  Also determined that 14 million e-mails could not be assigned to a component based on their PST file name.  Everett Decl. at 7.

March 6, 2008 CREW files Show Cause Motion, seeking contempt/sanctions against Payton in response to apparent contradictions between the Feb. 26 Oversight Comm. Hearing and January 15 declaration.
March 11, 2008 National Security Archive files Emergency Motion to Extend TRO/Preservation Order and seek depositions.
March 14, 2008 Government files oppositions to the Archive’s Emergency Motion to Extend TRO/Preservation Order and CREW’s Motion for Contempt and Sanctions.
March 18, 2008 Magistrate Judge Facciola orders EOP to show cause why it should not be required to make forensic copies of all computer hard drives and other storage media in White House system, including costs and burden of the copying process.
March 21, 2008 Government files opposition to “Forensic Copy” order, accompanied by a second declaration of Theresa Payton. Declaration reveals (1) most computers from contested period have been replaced or--if still in service--would be difficult to track down; (2) White House standard procedure included wiping out or destroying information on hard drives prior to decommissioning them or re-issuing them to new staff.
March 25, 2008 National Security Archive files response to “Forensic Copy” order.
April 17, 2008 EOP defendants file consent motion for clarification of the preservation order, inquiring whether EOP may continue to use back-up tapes to recover data for its customers despite risks to data from such restoration projects. The National Security Archive later learns this was necessary because of a secret effort to restore backup tapes because of missing e-mail.
April 24, 2008 Magistrate Judge Facciola orders EOP to supplement its March 21 response with more precise information about the costs of forensic copying to preserve e-mails, and recommends that the court order EOP to remotely copy and preserve e-mails from workstations and to collect and preserve all portable media held by EOP employees that may contain e-mails.
May 5, 2008 The White House files a response to Magistrate Judge Facciola’s April 24, 2008 First Report and Recommendation and Third Declaration of CIO Theresa Payton, admitting that it has no computer back-up tapes with data written before May 23, 2003 and that it cannot track the history of individual hard drives within the White House system that may contain missing e-mails.
May 8, 2008 The Archive files a response to the April 24, 2008 Report and Recommendation, objecting in part to Judge Facciola’s denial of court-supervised depositions and reiterating concerns about whether missing e-mails are in fact preserved on back-up tapes held by the White House.
May 12, 2008 EOP defendants file objections to Magistrate Judge Facciola’s First Report and Recommendation, claiming that the existing preservation order is sufficient to provide the relief requested because the White House has maintained its disaster recovery tapes since May 2003.
May 19, 2008

The Archive files a brief in opposition to government objections to the Report and Recommendation, arguing that further action by the court is necessary to preserve e-mails that may remain on backup tapes and other media. CREW also files its opposition to defendants’ objections.

Defendants file a response to the Archive’s limited objection to the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation denying the Archive’s require for depositions.

May 30, 2008

Government files a reply brief in support of its request for reconsideration of the Magistrate Judge’s report, reiterating its argument that the November 12 preservation order is sufficient to ensure that the court will be able to grant relief, because OA has preserved approximately 60,000 disaster recovery back-up tapes that should contain any missing White House e-mails.

June 2008

  • OCIO begins to utilize the PIVIT tool in Phase II of the Data Restoration Project to “more precisely allocate all of the messages in all of the .pst files in the e-mail message archive” for the period of “missing” emails.  Everett Decl. at 7-9
  • The new tool is purported to “recognize messages by message header” which provides “more accurate allocation of messages to the appropriate EOP component.”  The reports generated by Phase II are to be used to initiate discussions with NARA about which days may require restoration in Phase III.
  • The Government later claims that the results of Phase II actually revealed that there were only 7 zero message days as opposed to 293 zero days as counted in Phase I.  Everett Decl. at 7-9.
June 16, 2008

In a separate case brought by CREW under FOIA, seeking records from the Office of Administration about missing White House e-mails, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly rules that the Office of Administration “is not an agency subject to the FOIA” and grants the government’s motion to dismiss CREW’s case.

On June 17, the government filed a notice to inform the court about the decision in CREW v. Office of Administration.  The Archive filed its response about the decision on June 30. 

July 9, 2008 Request for offers issued for Phase III of the e-mail restoration process, which focused on restoring e-mails from days for which the message counts are considered to be deficient from disaster recovery tapes that require special handling because of their confidential nature.
July 29, 2008

Magistrate Judge Facciola issues his Second Report and Recommendation, denying EOP’s motion to reconsider and upholding previous recommendations that the court order EOP to search and preserve e-mails from individual workstations and portable media but declining to order forensic copying of all relevant workstations.      

August 2008 PST Inventory Verification and Investigation Tool (PIVIT) process is conducted.  The goal is to allocate messages to the appropriate EOP component by reading message header information.  Later in August OA discovered previously undetected PST files which had not been originally ingested into PIVIT.  PIVIT counted 94 million e-mail messages plus an additional 1 million “that were not accounted for in the e-mail message archives….”  Everett Decl. at 8.
August 2008

OA decides to conduct a statistical analysis to determine whether any days remain low after completion of PIVIT inventory process. Dr. Nancy J. Kirkendall is engaged to conduct the analysis.  Auto-Regressive Integrated Moving Average Model (“ARIMA”) modeling identifies 76 statistically lows component days. Everett Decl. at 9. Later documents reveal that there were three “passes” of the ARIMA analysis run on the PIVIT database, each yielding different counts.  The differences are attributed to the addition of additional pst files to the PIVIT database and different decisions about how to allocate the messages.

August 4, 2008
  • An Executive Summary for the EOP attributes the low message count days discovered in the 2005 Review “no intentional or malicious acts” but to several flaws in the 2005 Review process including the use of the 27 day rolling average to determine low days which “had no basis in any standard or recognized methodology,” the failure to account for over 9 million messages in the PST files searched, and the failure to search over 100 PST files that were “misplaced during data migrations and system upgrades.”  OAP00005430 at 5431.
  • Phase III of the Data Restoration Project “will provide resources to recover messages using disaster recovery backup tapes for days that are determined to require restoration.  The result will be the ability to transfer the complete inventory of Presidential email records to NARA.”  OAP00005430.
August 8, 2008 EOP awards Phase III contract to CACI, an information technology company headquartered in Arlington, Va.
August 18, 2008 CACI holds kick-off meeting for Email Data Restore Project (Phase III). CACI says it will begin tape restoration by Nov. 11, 2008, with the entire project ending by Feb. 10, 2009.
August 25, 2008 Native American Industrial Distributors releases its quality control report on the PIVIT Database. The report states there are some discrepancies between the e-mail counts in PIVIT and the counts on the source drive; it also lists possible technical explanations for these discrepancies.
August 29, 2008

- Cost for Email Phase III estimated at $10.4 million for a completion date of Dec. 1, 2008, or $9.5 million for a completion date of Dec. 15, 2008. Both estimates exceeded the $3.8 million in funds available at the time.

- E-mail sent from the director of Federal Records Management noting problems obtaining an independent review of the PST Inventory Verification & Investigation Tool (PIVIT) developed by InfoReliance. Although InfoReliance obtained a peer review of PIVIT before handing it off to OCIO, the sender states that no one they contacted to perform an independent review and verification of PIVIT was interested because “the potential notoriety in the media was likely more than they wanted to deal with.” The Native American Industrial Distributors ultimately performed a more limited “quality check” of a few “critical” aspects of PIVIT.
September 11, 2008 Timeline sets December 15, 2008, deadline for completion of Phase III.
September 20, 2008 E-mail estimates the cost of Phases I and II to be between $1.4 million and $1.7 million.
September 22, 2008

Stephen Everett becomes the new CIO for AO. 

October 2008

Disaster recovery backup tapes copied so that Phase III restoration can be conducted with the duplicates.  A catalogue of the entire set of duplicate tapes is created. 

November 2008

125 additional PST files identified that were not included in the original PIVIT inventory.

November 10, 2008

Judge Kennedy denies EOP’s motion to dismiss, finding that the case may go forward under the Federal Records Act and that the Archive and CREW have standing to sue.

By November 26, 2008

Although the ARIMA model had identified 106 statistically low component days falling on 68 calendar days, OA provides to CACI a list of 48 components days falling on 21 calendar days to be restored from the disaster recovery backup tapes.  OA also request 40 sample days for restoration.       

December 4, 2008

CREW filed a renewed motion for expedited discovery, seeking discovery about the status of the White House e-mails as the transition approached.  The defendants opposed the motion and CREW replied.

January 8, 2009

The Archive files a motion to compel production of the administrative record, claiming that “Defendants’ attempt to evade their disclosure obligations comes on the eve of the presidential transition – where documents related to the administrative record as well as the emails at issue in this lawsuit may be transferred and/or otherwise made inaccessible.”

January 14, 2009

Judge Kennedy orders defendants EOP to “(1) search the workstations . . .  and to collect and preserve all e-mails sent or received between March 2003 and October 2005 and (2) issue a preservation notice to its employees directing them to surrender any media in their possession . . . that may contain e-mails sent or received between March 2003 and October 2005, and for EOP to collect and preserve all such media.”  The order granted the Archive’s March 11, 2008, Emergency Motion to Extent TRO/Preservation Order and adopted the April 24, 2008, and July 29, 2008, Reports and Recommendations of Magistrate Judge Facciola.

Magistrate Judge Facciola holds an emergency status conference.  The conference was scheduled in response to CREW’s request for a hearing to clarify the status of documents and e-mails relevant to the lawsuit in light of the upcoming transition and records transfer, but the EOP objected to the request, claiming it had already provided adequate assurances that the White House would follow the court’s orders during the transition.

January 15, 2009

In advance of the presidential transition on January 20, Magistrate Judge Facciola issues an order and opinion directing the White House to search all EOP workstations and portable media for missing e-mail after government lawyers at a hearing the previous day represented that they would only search EOP components that create federal records and not presidential records components. The order also directs EOP to provide to the Archivist of the United States and the court a full inventory of all backup tapes and portable media containing White House e-mail and to preserve and provide to the Archivist a full administrative record of the case.

January 21, 2009

On the first full day of the Obama administration, EOP files a motion to dismiss conceding that many days of e-mails written had been deleted from the EOP servers, that those deleted e-mails had to be restored from backup tapes, and that millions of e-mails had been mislabeled and miscategorized in the White House system. Continuing the legal strategy of the Bush administration, the motion argues that because the e-mails have been restored the issue is now moot and the judge should dismiss the case.

January 22, 2009

EOP files its second notice of compliance, providing the court with an inventory of 70,000 disaster recovery tapes and informing the court that it has transferred to NARA a 6 terabyte database containing a list of every file contained on 26,000 back up tapes that were copied as part of e-mail recovery efforts.

January 26, 2009

Judge Kennedy adopts Magistrate Judge Facciola’s January 15 order as a report and recommendation, making it binding on the government defendants.

February 20, 2009

The Archive files its response to the government’s motion to dismiss, arguing that the EOP defendants have not provided evidence to show that their restoration efforts were sufficient or that an adequate e-mail archiving system is in place.

March 31, 2009

Judge Kennedy orders the case be stayed after the plaintiffs and government defendants agree to pursue settlement negotiations to discuss whether the matter can be resolved outside of litigation.

Throughout Spring and Summer 2009

CACI performs work restoring 21 calendar days of e-mail and 40 sample days.

December 14, 2009

The parties settle the case, with EOP/OA agreeing to restore at least 33 additional calendar days identified by plaintiffs, complete its production of records relevant to the dispute, and provide a written description of the current EOP e-mail system that can be released to the public.  NARA agrees to maintain all restored e-mail days in separate collections of federal and presidential records that will be searched in response to records requests under existing law and procedures.  NARA also agrees to retain a set of the backup tapes for the period during which the e-mail problems existed for a period of 12 years. 


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