BetaNYC • Citizens Union • Common Cause NY • EANY • NYPIRG Good Jobs NY • National Freedom of Information Coalition • NYCLU Pace Law Environmental Clinic • Reinvent Albany • Riverkeeper
Participatory Politics Foundation • Sunlight Foundation League of Women Voters NYS • Tri-State Transportation Campaign
For immediate release: May 21, 2015
Transparency Groups Urge Gov. Cuomo to Issue Executive Order Requiring Agencies to Keep Emails 7 Years
Stop the Automatic Deletion of Emails
Today, on the eve of the “Email Summit” our groups renew our call to Gover- nor Cuomo to stop the automatic deletion of state emails and instead to issue an executive order requiring state agencies to keep emails for 7 years, per the “Capstone” policy adopted by the federal government.
We are among the large of coalition of state and national transparency and watchdog groups that have repeatedly urged Governor Cuomo to stop deleting state emails.
Governor Cuomo’s policy of automatically deleting unarchived emails after 90 days reduces the transparency and accountability of New York State govern- ment. The governor’s policy inevitably results in the destruction of emails that are considered public records under the Freedom of Information Law, and it undermines accountability laws like the False Claims Act.
In this era, government runs on email, and public access to complete email records is a cornerstone of government transparency. The federal government has recognized this by establishing the “Capstone” policy. Capstone is the re- sult of extensive research and consultation. It requires agencies to keep the emails of federal employees for 7 years and of executive staff permanently. A model executive order based on Capstone is attached below.
We urge Governor Cuomo to issue this executive order and renew his stated commitment to open government:
Common Cause NY
Environmental Advocates of New York
Good Jobs NY
Laura Ladd Bierman
League of Women Voters NYS
National FOI Coalition
NY Civil Liberties Union
NY Public Interest Research Group
Pace Environmental Law Clinic
Participatory Politics Foundation
National Policy Manager
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
DRAFT EMAIL RETENTION EXECUTIVE ORDER
WHEREAS, the state’s freedom of information law, first enacted in 1974, has served as a critical vehicle under which the public has gained access to records of state and local governmental entities; and
WHEREAS, in this era, government runs on email, and access to email and electron- ic records is a cornerstone of public transparency; and
WHEREAS, advances in technology have made the retention, search, and retrieval of vast quantities of email more simple and more cost-effective than ever;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, [NAME], Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the State of New York, do hereby order as follows:
As used herein, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
1. “State Agency” is defined as any agency, department, division, board, bureau, of- fice, council, commission, authority, public benefit corporation, or other governmen- tal entity performing a governmental or proprietary function for the State of New York, except the judiciary or the state legislature.
2. “State Email” is defined as any electronic mail, including metadata, sent or re- ceived by any State Agency in pursuance of law or in connection with the transaction of public business of a State Agency, such as evidence of an agency’s organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities, or that is relevant and useful to the execution and implementation of ongoing agency work.
3. “Personal Email Account” is defined as any email address and accompanying ac- count on any computer network which is configured to send electronic mail, receive electronic mail, or both, except those provided to an employee of any State Agency by the State Agency which employs him or her.
4. “Official Email Account” is defined as the email address and accompanying ac- count on any computer network configured to send electronic mail, receive electron-
ic mail, or both, which is provided to an employee of any State Agency by the State Agency which employs him or her.
B. Retention of Email
1. Each State Agency shall retain all State Email for a minimum of seven years.
2. Nothing in this section shall require or permit any employee of any State Agency to delete an email which is the subject of a request for records under Article 6 of the Public Officers Law, the subject of any records retention schedule described in Title U of the Arts and Cultural Affairs Law, or the subject of any obligation to preserve records relating to anticipated or filed litigation.
C. Personal Email Use
1. Employees of any State Agency shall not create or maintain State Email through the use of any Personal Email Account.
2. In the event that any State Email is sent to any Personal Email Account belonging to any employee of any State Agency, that employee shall forward that State Email to his or her Official Email Account within five days.
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