Recently the government has actively changed the computers so one can not look at private email accounts at work. The ability to engage in criminal activities from government computers is very real. Privacy is a serious matter and Lois Lerners actions are criminal. Talking about individual information is a serious violation of privacy.
If we discuss a case, no names or data is exchanged. If I consult with a peer the attorney might look at the file to see if I missed something. In this case, the US associate attorney has a right to know and examine the entire record. In this case the identity is incidental to examining the legal record.
Example a US Citizen marries a woman from country X. He petitions for his wife and dies before the petition is handled. Note we have not stated a name, location of the country. We are discussing how to handle a case scenario. Once we add names and specifics this is still legal so long as it remains in private conversation between an officer and US attorney. In reality even between agencies sometimes we do talk about specific cases. These conversations are subject to strict disclosure rules and procedures.
Example: Person Y comes in for an immigration interview. In the course of the interview, the agency acquires
financial records. The FBI must go through a series of steps to get that information. The process also works in the reverse.
Lois Lerner abused her authority for specific partisan reasons. This is a major violation of ethics and deserves to be severely punished to the full extent of the law. She violated procedural guidelines by discussing cases at top levels with other agencies.
In reality within DHS the rules are different. The reason for this is the components of DHS are basically different divisions of the same agency. For the most part there is co-operation, but at times we disagree.
The actions of Lerner who used private emails to conduct official business violate ethics.
Now the government computers have been altered so I have to go to my cell phone for email. Thank you Lois Lerner and you porn surfers for your contributions to the work life of your peers.