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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sorry Judge, It had no "Administrative Value" to ME

Throughout the United States, state and local governments are reassessing and restating (hopefully) their email archiving and retention policies due to the recent lawsuit filed by the North Carolina Press Association and several other news agencies against Governor Mike Easley and the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency in charge of record retention.

The lawsuit alleges the destruction of email records sent to and from the Governor's office in what appears to be a blatant disregard for the State's Open Records laws. As more is learned of the policies set forth by the Department of Cultural Resources a new excuse maybe developing for law breakers and cheating spouses around the country..."it had no administrative value".

"Officer, I robbed that bank because I thought the money had no 'administrative value' to the bank any more."

"Honey, pay no attention to the lipstick on my collar, it has no 'administrative value' to you."

All joking aside, governments will need to modify their vague 'administrative value' email retention and archiving policies. Perhaps they can look to businesses in highly regulated fields like finance and energy who have been actively archiving emails at the enterprise level for many years. These organizations have had an easier to remember (and much less arbitrary) policy that also goes by two words: Keep everything!

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