DIVISION: Administration and Finance
DEPARTMENT: Information Technology Services
SUBJECT: Electronic Mail
OBJECTIVE & PURPOSE: To define guidelines on the use of electronic mail and the retention of electronic mail documents.
AUTHORITY: None. This document is published as a supplement to the policy entitled Network Acceptable Use Policy and is for informational purposes only. It does not supersede or modify existing University policies and regulations.
Electronic mail (email) is an efficient and convenient means of communication and Information Technology Services (ITS) supports a number of different packages. However, despite it's convenience, there are a number of aspects of its use that may not be readily apparent. This document outlines these aspects and provides guidelines for dealing with them.
Information Technology Services (ITS) backs up the contents of all email notelogs, mailbooks, and folders (referred to generally as "logs") once daily, usually in the evening. Exact times of these backups vary. These backups remain on file for up to twelve months. Consequently, if you send and log (usually the default) a piece of email during the day, it will be backed up that evening unless you take action to delete it from your log prior to backup. Even then, it will be backed up if all the recipients to whom you have sent the email do not delete it prior to backup.
Depending on content, an email is most likely a matter of public record and subject to the retention periods assigned to public records. Exceptions to this would include transitory messages with no retention value.
Back-up procedures are performed for disaster recovery purposes only and are not designed to support compliance with the public records law. Therefore, it is the responsibility of each unit manager to define internal procedures for retaining public records generated in email format.
While the technical methods for reviewing, storing, printing, and deleting email vary somewhat from system to system, there are two ways to satisfy public records retention requirements:
Questions about retention periods for various classes of public records should be directed to the Office of the General Counsel.
By its nature, email is easily forwarded to other individuals. When composing and sending email, always keep in mind that what you are writing could be seen by other individuals in addition to those to whom you addressed the email.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ):
How do I know if an e-mail is a public record and, if it is, its retention schedule?
Consult the Office of the General Counsel.
What do I do if I inadvertently delete an e-mail that I want or need to retain?
Call the Information Technology Services (ITS) Help Desk or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you deleted the e-mail on the same day you sent it, it is unlikely that it is recoverable. Otherwise, if the e-mail was sent within the last twelve months, there is a high probability that it can be recovered from back-up. However, as pointed out, back-ups should not be relied upon for public record retention purposes.
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