Sunshine Week Request to Governor Cuomo to Stop Automatically Deleting State Emails


Beta NYC • Citizens Union • Common Cause New York
 Environmental Advocates of New York 

Good Jobs New York • League of Women Voters of New York
 National Freedom of Information Coalition 

New York Civil Liberties Union • OpenPlans 

New York Public Interest Research Group • Reinvent Albany 

Pace Law Environmental Clinic • Participatory Politics Foundation Riverkeeper • Sunlight Foundation • Tri-State Transportation Campaign

For Immediate Release March 19, 2015

Transparency Groups Make Sunshine Week Request to Governor Cuomo: Stop Automatic Deletion of State Emails

Groups extremely concerned about likely destruction of public records; Replace automatic email deletion with automatically saving emails 
 for a minimum of 7 years.

This Sunshine Week, our groups urge Governor Andrew Cuomo to order an immediate stop to the automatic deletion of state emails.

Governor Cuomo’s policy of automatically deleting unarchived state emails after 90 days reduces the transparency and accountability of NY State government. It inevitably causes the destruction of emails that are considered public records under the Freedom of Information Law and undermines laws like the False Claims Act.

Last week, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ordered his office to stop au- tomatically deleting emails after 90 days. We urge Governor Cuomo to do the same for state emails.

The NY State Archive’s 2010 guidance to state agencies says: “Purging all emails after a defined time period is not an acceptable retention strategy.” It is now 2015, and an extensive study by the National Archives has further concluded that purging government emails is still a bad idea.

Our groups welcome the governor’s recent proposal to have a broader discussion about state government transparency. But we reject the notion that the Gover- nor should only stop automatically deleting state emails if the state legislature subjects itself to the Freedom of Information Law or the legislature, comptroller and attorney general adopt some kind of “uniform email retention policy. One is not contingent on the other, and if the legislature refuses, or other offices balk at a “uniform email retention policy,” that does not mean that Governor Cuomo has “permission” to continue automatically destroying state emails.

In a January 29, 2015 letter, our groups asked Governor Cuomo to end the poli- cy of automatically deleting emails, and instead match federal email trans- parency by saving the emails of state employees for at least seven years. This Sunshine Week, we again call on him to lead by example.

See for background information about a 7 year email policy. For additional comments, please contact:

Noel Hidalgo, BetaNYC, (937) 218-2422
Dick Dadey, Citizens Union, (212) 227-0342
Susan Lerner, Common Cause NY, (212) 691-6421
Peter Iwanowicz, Environmental Advocates of NY, (518) 462-5526
Elizabeth Bird, Good Jobs NY, 212-721-4865
Laura Ladd-Bierman, League of Women Voters NY, (518) 465-4162
Barbara Petersen, National Freedom of Information Coalition, (573) 882-4856 Robert Perry, New York Civil Liberties Union, (212) 607-3300
Gene Russianoff, NY Public Interest Research Group, (212) 349-6460
Frank Hebbert, OpenPlans, (917) 388-9033
Dan Estrin, Pace Law Environmental Clinic, (914) 422-4343
David Moore, Participatory Politics Foundation, (917) 753-3462
John Kaehny, Reinvent Albany, (917) 388-9087
Paul Gallay, Riverkeeper, (800) 21-RIVER
Emily Shaw, Sunlight Foundation, (202) 742-1520
Veronica Vanterpool, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, (212) 268-7474


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