In 2017, if you plan to request emails as part of a data request from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, you better place the request within 30 days of when the emails may have been sent or received.
As of September 1, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office has a new policy that it will only retain emails for 30 days. The rest of the county will begin deleting emails after six months starting in 2017.
As reported by the Star Tribune:
“The Sheriff’s Office change serves to usher in a countywide policy, by administrative order starting in 2017, under which the remainder of Hennepin County e-mails will be automatically deleted after six months. From the county attorney’s office to the County Board, departments will gradually implement the new policy starting Jan. 1.
Up to now the county, which officials say has 210 million e-mails in its accounts and gets 6 million more every month, has also kept e-mails indefinitely.”
According to the Star Tribune report, the change was implemented due to the rising costs of storing email data and will save the county $2 million each year. The county claims that not all emails will be deleted; emails deemed necessary for the “official record” will be saved by county workers.
Government watchdogs are concerned by the changes made by Hennepin County and other government entities to their email retention policies.
“We really are afraid of what’s going on,” said Don Gemberling, spokesman for the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information. “It’s bad public policy. Across the country, when you give public employees the ability to [delete their own e-mails], they get rid of stuff that’s embarrassing.”
The coalition is pushing state lawmakers to expand the definition of official records in state statute to clarify that e-mails are indeed official records, which would force government agencies to preserve more of them. (Star Tribune)