Post Process

Everything to do with E-discovery & ESI

To Delete or Not to Delete, if you work for the Government…

Posted by rjbiii on September 25, 2007

We’ve already posted once about the difficulty in deciding when it is appropriate to delete e-mails. But that article was written from the corporate perspective. Think, then, how much more difficult it can be for a state institution to comply with transparency rules:

An e-mail pops into your inbox. You scan over it. Now you’ve got a decision to make: Delete it, or keep it?

These decisions are made daily by hundreds of millions of people around the world, often without more than second of thought.

That may be fine if you’re reading a friend’s message or a consumer solicitation on your home computer. But if you are a public employee, a hasty deletion could be a crime. Really.

The AP writer is not likely familiar with compliance and discovery issues, or he wouldn’t express such surprise. Basically, the article details the difficulties on deciding when it’s okay to delete, and when it isn’t, and government units subjected to rules on openness and transparency use different templates than do businesses. So how is the fateful decision made? Same as it is in most corporations:

The responsibility essentially falls on each government employee sending and receiving an e-mail to judge whether it can be deleted or should be saved.

And ultimately, that will either have to change, or there will be consequences…

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