EBCitizen posted an interesting piece the other day about Fremont’s email retention policy which came under fire by Alameda County’s Grand Jury. Excerpt:
An Alameda County grand jury report released Monday strongly faulted the City of Fremont for an email retention policy that subverts state transparency laws by deleting government emails after just 30 days. It also called for the city to completely overhaul its email policy.
Cities in the state must abide by a government code requiring emails to be retained at least two years. However, in Fremont, city officials and staff are allowed to label all unsaved emails as “preliminary drafts.” In addition, they are allowed to pick and choose which emails are saved or purged. If no designation is given, according to the grand jury report, they are automatically purged after 30 days.
As a reminder, this policy by Fremont was one that the City of Alameda was relying on a few years ago to justify not producing emails during a standard public records request.
Remember when then City Attorney Teresa Highsmith was telling everyone this:
The City’s other email system is the internal Groupwise system, and each Councilmember (including the Mayor) does has a City email address. Unlike the off-site Alameda Access system, the City of Alameda does not have the server space to retain the emails. Accordingly, the emails within the City’s Groupwise system are systematically and automatically purged by IT every 30 days; therefore, they are considered “drafts” and are exempt from disclosure pursuant to Govt. Code Section 6254(a).
At least now those of us were were saying “wow, that policy seems awfully lame” back then now have a definitive answer from the Grand Jury regarding a 30 day retention policy. Although had I known that this was a topic the Grand Jury would have been willing to tackle I would have put in a complaint five years ago.
I’ll just add, one of these days I would love to be a part of a Grand Jury like this. Not that I have the time, knowledge, or bandwidth right now, but it is one of my dorky dreams to do so. Like when I retire or something.