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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - What is the state policy re email retention?

In 2012 the ILB had a number of posts on the Indiana Commission on Public Records project to create a statewide policy for retaining electronic records. This most recent post, from June 16, 2012, is particularly worth a read.*

Here is the Commission on Public Records' page on Electronic Records. It links to the Indiana Electronic Records Policy -- OCPR Policy 12-01 (Effective 9/19/2012). Some quotes [ILB emphasis]:

This Electronic Records Policy applies to electronic records of governmental entities, including, but not limited to: email, word-processing documents, spreadsheets, databases, websites, images, video, audio, multimedia, interactive documents, scanned/digitized documents, etc. It includes records created, sent or received by employees, appointees or elected officials of governmental entities, as well as contractors in the course of their interaction with governmental entities.

It is the governmental entity’s responsibility to ensure electronic records are maintained under the same public access laws and approved records retention schedules as physical records. This includes e-mail conducted on government devices, or through a government e-mail address, or for an official government purpose, which should be retained in accordance with the approved records retention schedule that covers the content of the message. However, accessing a personal e-mail account via the internet on a government device does not establish the personal e-mail or the personal account as a public record if no official government business is being conducted.

Not all public records must be retained under an approved retention schedule. Those defined as “transitory non-record materials” are not subject to retention; however, these materials cannot be destroyed to avoid an existing public records request filed with the governmental entity to which the records may be responsive under Indiana’s Access to Public Record Act. Transitory non-record materials are:

  • personal records as defined by IC 5-15-5.1-1
  • nonrecord materials as defined by IC 5-15-5.1-1
  • unsolicited advertising messages and "spam" e-mail
  • the recipient's copy of messages sent to a mass audience or from listservs
Employees of governmental entities should have no expectation of privacy for items considered public records.
The policy also provides:
Governmental entities should develop internal guidelines and procedures to control the creation, receipt, transmission, maintenance and disposition of records; all record creators and users should be made aware of their responsibility to comply with these procedures, and receive training appropriate to their role. * * *

Electronic records should be retained and disposed of in accordance with the retention schedule that covers the records’ informational content, as approved by the Indiana Oversight Committee on Public Records.

A slide show from May 14, 2014, titled "Electronic Records Management, Preservation, and Best Practices in Indiana Government," includes on slide 5:
Electronic Records Policy Scope:

This Electronic Records Policy applies to electronic records of governmental entities, including, but not limited to: email, word-processing documents, spreadsheets, databases, websites, images, video, audio, multimedia, interactive documents, scanned/digitized documents, etc. It includes records created, sent or received by employees, appointees or elected officials of governmental entities, as well as contractors in the course of their interaction with governmental entities.

Slide 6:
Electronic Records and Email are not records series. Retention of these items is based upon the content of the information and not the format.
  • ICPR is beginning the process to accept limited permanent electronic records for transfer to the State Archives.
  • Email Capstone Project. ICPR anticipates having departed/departing agency heads emails transferred in their entirety to the permanent electronic records repository. We would like your feedback on acceptable processes. Our plan…
Interestingly, until rescinded by the Sept. 19, 2012 policy, the Commission had a very detailed 7-page email policy, titled "E-mail Retention Policy and Guidelines For Agencies On Developing An Agency-Specific E-mail Retention Policy," which appears to have been adopted in 2005. A common feature at the time of departmental email policies approved by the Commission is found on p. 2 of the 18-page 2005 IDEM policy:
If an employee leaves service at IDEM it is the employee’s responsibility to review e-mail records, download those e-mail that need to be retained onto a disk, archive (printed and stored in the correct place) or delete all e-mail according to the established retention schedule prior to leaving. The employee’s manager is responsible to apply the schedule to any e-mail remaining after the employee leaves.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 3, 2015 09:45 AM
Posted to Indiana Government