WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley today wrote to six government agencies that may have had internal documents made public through the same government contractor used by the Food and Drug Administration, which is in the midst of an employee email monitoring scandal.
“Federal agencies have a responsibility to handle documents carefully,” Grassley said. “Agencies should know when they are releasing internal documents to the public and should do so deliberately, with appropriate protections for truly private information, rather than merely hiding details about the public’s business from the public. It’s not clear from this incident whether the agencies were looking for any sensitive materials before shipping files over for archiving and possibly inadvertent public distribution.”
A contractor called Quality Associates, Inc. housed and archived FDA documents that as of last Friday, were discovered to be publicly available, possibly inadvertently. Six other federal agencies apparently had documents housed through Quality Associates that were public until Quality Associates removed the public access — including 3,000 pages of internal documents and emails from the National Institutes of Health.
Grassley asked each agency to provide its contract with Quality Associates, describe whether it has protections in place to protect the public disclosure of any sensitive information, and whether it monitors any employee email accounts with software that captures keystrokes and screen shots. The FDA used such software to monitor the emails of a group of employees who were concerned about what they considered inappropriate agency approval of certain medical devices. The FDA monitored emails for contact with members of Congress, including Grassley, who has a longstanding relationship with whistleblowers trying to expose waste, fraud, abuse, or danger to public safety.
Grassley wrote to the six federal agencies in addition to the FDA that had documents housed through Quality Associates as of last week: the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Agriculture, the Internal Revenue Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Health, and the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
Click here for Grassley's letter to the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
Click here for Grassley's letter to the Department of Agriculture.
Click here for Grassley's letter to the Department of Homeland Security.
Click here for Grassley's letter to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Click here for Grassley's letter to the Internal Revenue Service.
Click here for Grassley's letter to the National Institutes of Health.