Responding to a reporter's question about an Associated Press report that a number of senior administration officials possess secret email addresses, Carney said setting up such accounts is "a very reasonable thing to do" to so the officials' email in boxes are not flooded with spam and other unofficial communications.
"And all I'm suggesting is that the issue here is, are these accounts, these work accounts, secret? And the answer is no, because they are subject to FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requests and they are subject to congressional inquiry, just like their public addresses," Carney said.
When told the AP reported it got no response to its FOIA request for a list of the email accounts three months ago, Carney deferred to the agencies to which the requests were made.
"What I can say is that this administration has made significant strides in improving FOIA practices, compared with all of our predecessors," the White House spokesman said.
"Agencies have improved their processes for administering the FOIA, disclosed more information, invoked FOIA exemptions less frequently, and answered more requests.
"Agencies are also increasingly disclosing information without waiting for a specific FOIA request. And I've got a ton of data here to back up those statements.
"And so, I think our record on FOIA is -- compares favorably to every previous administration, and it reflects our efforts to be more transparent and to provide more information."
Carney said the Obama administration's practice has been consistent with prior administrations of both parties and "any FOIA request or congressional inquiry includes a search in all of the email accounts used by any political appointee" and "all of this information is provided."
"Having alternate email addresses for Cabinet secretaries and other high-profile official makes eminent sense, as much as it does for columnists for example, of major publications who provide email addresses for their readers, but have alternative work email addresses so that the -- if they are inundated in one account with either public emails, or spam or the like, that they can continue to use their other account for normal work," he said.