Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may have violated federal records laws by using a personal email account for all of her work messages, the New York Times reported on Monday.
By using a private email account Clinton violated three main concerns of the US government. Use of a private email account skirted security issues and opened up possible leaks of information. It also created a situation where there was a lack of transparency. When you use a personal account instead of the federally mandated account it can look like something was being covered up. Also, you lose the ability to have historical records of transactions preserved over time.
There are systems and beliefs in place for a reason and when as a leader of an organization you purposefully violate the systems, the standards, and the beliefs then you are, by example, telling everyone that works for you that they can do the same thing.
Accountability is keeping your commitments to people. There are both spoken and unspoken commitments. What are the spoken and unspoken commitments she made to the American people? What are the spoken and unspoken commitments that all elected and appointed officials make to the American people?
I believe that government officials make an unspoken commitment to the people that they will have integrity. Violating the well-known email policy shows a lack of integrity. If government officials would go out of their way to always do the right thing we would have a different government and a different relationship between government and the American people.
There is a lack of confidence in government because there is a lack of an understanding of accountability. It’s no wonder that people frequently talk about just electing the new person because they don’t trust the incumbent. When it comes to accountability we expect our elected and appointed officials to do the right thing and we continuously get disappointed.
Accountability is to people. It is keeping your commitments to people. It is not about reports, projects and things. Accountability is not the same as responsibility. There is a responsibility that comes with accountability but it’s not the same thing.
We need our government to get back to focusing on people, not just the spoken commitments they’ve made but the unspoken commitments that we all understand and relate to. If you are truly serving people, keeping your commitments to people – being accountable to people, then you will act different and the people you serve will feel different. It’s about time that the people that government is supposed to serve come first in the thoughts and actions of everyone in office.