Pierce County will retain employee e-mails for at least six years under a new policy announced today.
County Executive Pat McCarthy said the move makes information contained in county e-mails more accessible to the public.
“I ran (for executive) on open and transparent government,” McCarthy said. “This policy is in keeping with a philosophy of making sure we provide access to information for citizens.”
State law provides public access to most government records. As governments rely more on e-mail, databases and other electronic records, access to those records has become a big issue among open government advocates.
Under a previous policy established in 1999, county e-mails were automatically purged from the county’s computer system 14 days after employees deleted them from their in-box. To save them permanently, employees had to print and file them away.
Under the new policy, the county will electronically store most e-mail messages and attachments for at least six years. After that, they’re purged.
Some messages – like spam and draft e-mails that were never sent – will not be archived. Others will be retained for more than six years.
The county has new archiving software that will make the records easier to search as well as store.