Local Politics

Easley: State Employees Trusted to Handle E-Mail

Posted April 2, 2008

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— State employees must be trusted to decide which e-mails to save and which to delete on a daily basis, Gov. Mike Easley said Wednesday.

E-mails to state government have been at the center of controversy in recent weeks since a fired Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman said Easley's administration had an unofficial policy of deleting e-mail communications daily. Easley and members of his staff have denied the allegation.

Handwritten notes from two public information officers supported the fired worker's claim. The notes indicated the governor's press office told public information officers, during a May 29 meeting, to delete e-mails.

Easley has asked for a review of what was said at the May 29 meeting, and he has established a panel to review policies on how to handle e-mail correspondence.

"Delete can mean a lot of things," Easley said. "If you've got something of value, you move it to a folder and then delete it. If you need to print it, print it and then delete off your box."

The executive branch of North Carolina government receives about 900,000 e-mails each work day, he said, making it necessary to delete frivolous messages routinely.

"I trust our state employees," he said. "The same thing that makes them honest about keeping valuable information is the same character trait that keeps them from walking out of the office with (government) equipment.

"At some point, we have to trust them to make the right decisions."

Easley helped craft the state's public records law as attorney general in 1995. The law says every letter, note or e-mail that has "administrative value" must be saved.

"(Administrative value) is determined by the person who reads it. It's the only way you can maintain the law," he said.

Keeping millions of e-mails every year would be an administrative nightmare, he said.

"If I kept every bit of it, you then have to answer the question to the taxpayer, 'Hey, I make $8 an hour and pay taxes to the state of North Carolina. Why are you wasting my money on an invitation to a baby shower and junk spam?'" he said.


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  • lilwil Apr 3, 2008

    Looks like someone got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. I'm sure it's all going to be covered up real nicely.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Apr 3, 2008

    E-mail archiving appliances and the disk storage are relatively inexpensive. If private and public businesses are investing in this technology to save e-mails, why shouldn't the state be required to do the same.

  • davidgnews Apr 2, 2008

    Yes, enquiring minds want to know why the AG is MIA on this.

    Waiting his turn next election cycle, no doubt. Meanwhile, he's camping out on Myspace !

  • native son Apr 2, 2008

    Did he say trust? HA HA haaaaaaaaa

  • davidgnews Apr 2, 2008

    nosmo_king58 -exactly. You beat me to it !

    Easley is quite flippant (read:arrogant) about his role in government. One of the worst governors this state has ever seen.

    His motto should be "to seem, rather than to be!"

  • Just lil ole me Apr 2, 2008

    I can not believe that a state government does not have a records retention policy. This is absolutely critical in the event of a lawsuit.

    However, the state should really take note of what is taking place in Wisconsin, try this link for something interesting: http://www.waow.com/News/index.php?ID=23037

  • whatelseisnew Apr 2, 2008

    This is an obvious cover up. Why is the attorney general not investigating this business? Business entities have to keep these records on file for specific periods of time. If State Law does not have the same characteristics, then that needs to change. These are public records period.

  • nosmo_king58 Apr 2, 2008

    "Delete can mean a lot of things," Easley said. "If you've got something of value, you move it to a folder and then delete it. If you need to print it, print it and then delete off your box."

    What an idiot. Delete means delete. He must have advised Clinton on his famous "depends on what the definition of the word IS is." Also, if you move the e-mail, there is nothing to go back and delete.

  • Cahulawassee Apr 2, 2008

    True, smitty. Storage space is dirt cheap. Even if the employees delete the e-mails, they should be stored on the mail server for some set period of time (1 year, 2 years, etc.). Corporations do this as a "CYA" measure, the only reasonable motivation to not do so is in order to hide something.

  • smitty Apr 2, 2008

    Lies, lies, and more lies. If he were running a publicly traded company, he would have been indicted by now. Email must be archived. Don't pretend you are saving money by deleting everything.