National Audit Office: Email

Treasury written question – answered on 12th July 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the National Audit Office have the power to access the private emails of either (1) civil servants, (2) special advisers, or (3) ministers, if these have been used for government business relating directly to their investigations.

Photo of Lord Agnew of Oulton Lord Agnew of Oulton Minister of State (HM Treasury), Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

Under the National Audit Act 1983, the Comptroller and Auditor General has a right of access to all documents in the custody or under the control of a department that he reasonably requires for carrying out National Audit Office value for money examinations. There is a similar provision in the Government Resources and Accounts Act 2000 in relation to examinations by the Comptroller and Auditor General of a documents relating to a department’s accounts.

The 2013 Cabinet Office Guidance to departments on the use private email is clear that the originator or recipient of a communication should consider whether the information contained in private emails amounts to substantive discussions or decisions generated in the course of conducting government business, and take steps to ensure the relevant information is accessible (e.g. by copying it to a government email address).

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