“Well, we have reviewed Secretary Clinton’s official personnel file and administrative files and do not have any record of her signing the OF-109,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday.
“I think we’re fairly certain she did not. We don’t have record of it,” she added later.
This admission came one day after Psaki told reporters, “I don’t think former secretaries are standard employees.”
The OF-109 form is a document that every State Department employee (supposedly) must sign when they leave the agency, certifying that they have “surrendered to responsible officials” all classified, unclassified and other work-related documents in their possession.
Departing employees also must certify that they “understand the criminal penalties relating to U.S. Government records,” including the concealment, removal, or mutilation of those records.
Psaki said Clinton isn’t alone in not signing the OF-109: “In addition, after looking into their official personnel files, we did not locate any record of either of her immediate predecessors signing this form. It’s not clear that this form is used as part of a standard part of check out across this whole of government, or even at the State Department. So, we’re certainly looking into that.”
Asked if all employees are “required” to sign the form, Psaki said, “‘Required’ is not the accurate term. It’s — we’re looking into how standard this is across the federal government, and certainly at the State Department. But there’s no — we’re not aware of any penalty for not signing it.”
Pressed on that question, Psaki later said the failure to sign is “not a violation of any rule, no.”
A reporter asked Psaki if it’s “common practice” for lower-ranking employees to sign the separation agreement:
“Well, I just don’t want to characterize how common practice it is,” Psaki responded. “Certainly, I understand there’s been a focus on this form. We’ve answered the question on whether or not Secretary Clinton signed the form, and we’ll see if there’s more statistics we can provide about how common it is.”
Psaki also told reporters, “There are differences between regulations and certainly recommendations. And I’m just getting at — there’s a difference between also secretaries of state or former secretaries and staff at lower levels. I just don’t want to speak to how common practice it is. And that’s something if we can give more information on, we certainly will.”
Matt Lee of the Associated Press told Psaki the form “exists for a reason. It doesn’t exist simply because someone thought, ‘hey, let’s have a form that someone has to sign.’ It exists for a reason, and probably a very good reason, right?”
Psaki replied, “Well, there are probably hundreds of forms in the federal government that exist–thousands, tens of thousands of forms that exist. So, I don’t know that I would over-emphasize the existence of a form.”
Psaki said she hopes the case is now closed.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Tuesday, “there is a lot of paperwork” involved when staffers leave the White House, but he also said he guesses
“that’s going to vary by agency.”
“My understanding at the White House is that that applies to everybody who serves at the White House. I don’t know whether it applies to the president and the vice president, I guess, but in terms of staff who work here, I do know that they have to sign those kinds of agreements.”