In the current case, Kennedy and McCormack said it was too soon to say whether a crime was committed. The searches may violate the federal Privacy Act, and Kennedy said he is consulting State Department lawyers.
The State Department inspector general's power is limited, because two of the employees are no longer working for the department. McCormack said it was premature to consider whether the FBI or Justice Department should be involved.
McCormack said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was informed of the breaches on Thursday.
The State Department conducts background checks of its contract employees who perform passport applications work, but does not ask about political affiliations, Kennedy said.