Responding to a request from agency leaders, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General suggested in a recent report that the agency put in place some new controls to crack down on media leaks.
The OIG said in the report released March 29 that it can be difficult to identify staffers who share confidential information, especially if the information has also gone out to advocates and others who don’t work for the feds. Employees can be disciplined, even fired, for leaking, the report said. But it’s hard to hold staff criminally responsible, if the information isn’t classified.
To help alleviate the leaking problem, the OIG recommended the department should clearly mark documents that are not intended for public release and regularly train employees on the protection of confidential information.
The department had specifically asked the OIG to investigate how reporters at the Washington Post got hold of the president’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal ahead of its release last May, and how reporters at Politico last June got access to internal documents that indicated the department may delay key higher education regulations.
Photo: Swikar Patel