Republicans have expressed concern over members and employees of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) using encrypted chat apps for their communication, which they say violates federal record-keeping requirements.
House Republicans Darin LaHood and Lamar Smith have sent a letter to the EPA's independent overseer, the Inspector General, asking for a thorough investigation into the matter. The letter comes after Politico recently reported that some US government employees, particularly at the EPA were using encrypted chat apps like Signal and that few conversations on these apps included dissent against President Donald Trump's policies.
"This group of career officials at the EPA are aiming to spread their goals covertly to avoid federal records requirements, while also aiming to circumvent the government's ability to monitor their communications," an excerpt from the letter reads.
The party members go on to say the secret chats are just the symptom of a larger problem with accountability. Failure to record these conversations will ultimately lead to non-compliance with records laws such as the Freedom of Information Act.
The record keeping issue is, however, not new to the EPAs as a report in December found that the agency was already unintentionally failing to document text messages related to government work.
The Inspector General has until 28 February to provide an answer, but it is not necessary that an investigation will be launched into the matter. A report in Axios recently claimed that members of the Trump administration and senior GOP operatives regularly use Confide, a chat app that not only encrypts chats but also deletes messages from devices and servers after they've been read.
Using personal devices and secret platforms for work related communications has come under publicised scrutiny after the massive leak of Hillary Clinton's e-mails.