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Cuomo's Office Ends Email Deletion Policy

Server room

Torkild Retvedt, flickr

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Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration on Friday ended its practice of automatically deleting emails after 90 days after criticism that it was an affront to open government.
 
Instead, administration staffers will manually delete emails as they choose - though emails containing certain important records will be retained longer.
 
Cuomo will also seek to introduce legislation that would close a loophole in existing law that largely exempts the state Senate and Assembly from existing open records laws, according to Bill Mulrow, a top Cuomo aide.
 
The announcements came at a meeting Friday between the administration and representatives of the state comptroller and attorney general. The meeting was called by Cuomo's office to discuss the creation of a uniform email retention policy and open records policy for all state agencies.
 
Top lawmakers skipped the meeting, a decision that Mulrow said amounted to "essentially boycotting a meeting on transparency."
 
Of the loophole allowing the Legislature to ignore many records requirements, Mulrow said, "I find that simply outrageous and inexplicable."
 
Lawmakers had said Cuomo was trying to divert attention from his email policy by focusing on the Legislature's long-standing exemption, which is shared by many state legislatures around the country. They noted that Cuomo didn't need legislative input to change the retention policy.
 
"It is disappointing that the administration cannot fix their flawed email policy without some hastily arranged public relations stunt," Mike Murphy, spokesman for the Senate Democrats, said Thursday.
 
The governor's email policy dates back to Gov. Eliot Spitzer's administration, but Cuomo recently expanded it to cover most other state agencies, which previously operated under different policies. He instituted a similar purge policy in 2007 when he was attorney general. Current Attorney General Eric Schneiderman suspended the practice this year.
 
The comptroller's office has a separate system with no automatic deletions in which individuals can retain emails indefinitely.
 
Legislation that would require Cuomo's administration to keep emails for a certain period of time has been introduced in both the Senate and the Assembly.
 
Good-government groups have called on Cuomo to adopt the federal government's new policy of preserving emails for at least seven years.
 
by David Klepper/AP