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State To Develop New Rules For E-Mail And Other Records

Government officials will decide which e-mails must be kept and which can be discarded under the new rule.

Indiana plans to approve a new statewide rule next week outlining which government emails have to be saved — and for how long. State public records law requires policy-related records to be saved for three years and contracts to be saved for ten years.

State archivist Jim Corridan says even in electronic form, saving every email creates storage problems — and is not always necessary. Still, he says the new rule will only last about six months.

“We want to make sure that there‘s not unintended consequences. And so once that timeframe is run, our expectation is that sometime around January, we‘ll actually introduce an administrative rule, which will have the same effect as law, and have the oversight committee on public records then make the modifications or corrections necessary,” Corriden says.

He says the rule will define which emails, such as personal messages or unsolicited pitch letters from vendors, are considered “transitory” and do not need to be saved. The new rule will include other electronic records for the first time, such as spreadsheets or digital photos.

A draft of that portion of the policy is already complete. And Corridan says the rule may include a directive that records need to be recopied to CD or DVD every three years or so. He notes disks begin to degrade in 2 to 5 years, so recopying may be necessary to ensure records really are preserved.

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