“E-mail landmine for DC government”

Somehow I missed this op-ed in the Washington Post when it first came out in August:

An E-Mail Land Mine For D.C.’s Government.

It’s about a subject near and dear to the hearts of most modern-day FOIAers; namely, how do FOIAable agencies, cities, counties and school districts go about archiving and sorting their old e-mails?

Op-ed author John Chelen, associated with the World Educational Software Trust, is particularly writing about how and whether the city government of the District of Columbia (DC) will keep old e-mails. His suggestions are equally valid for any other city, county, school district, or state agency, though.

Chelen’s recommendations for e-mail archiving include:

  • Mandate that all D.C. government electronic communications will remain online and searchable until a reasonable period of time after the end of his administration; an off-line archive may be suitable thereafter.
  • Lead the way in developing government communications audit guidelines, modeled after Sarbanes-Oxley standards.
  • Implement systems and software that support these audit standards and reduce costs (e.g., eliminate redundant attachments while preserving the ability to reconstruct original e-mail).
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