Committee wants University System faculty and staff to keep e-mails 5 years

Oct 30, 2014

The Legislature’s interim Information Technology Committee has endorsed a bill requiring that North Dakota University System faculty and staff keep e-mails for up to five years.

The action comes because of accusations that NDSU deleted a number of e-mails that were the subject of open records requests. Many dealt with correspondence between NDSU president Dean Breschani and Board of Higher Education members concerning former Chancellor Hamid Shirvani.

If you don't have a clear and concise policy, how is an employee supposed to know what's archiveable and what's not, what they should keep and what they shouldn't keep," said Rep. Roscoe Streyle (R-Minot), the author of the bill. "If it's a policy, it simplifies the process and protects the employee. It's a win-win for everybody, and assures transparency in government."

In a letter to the Committee, University System Chancellor Larry Skogen said the system was working on an overall policy for e-mail record retention – and would have it ready by the end of November. But Streyle says he wasn’t confident.

"They told us last year they were working on it, and would have something soon," Streyle told the Committee. "And there's nothing. I don't trust what they're going to do. It needs to be a legislative perogative, because they clearly don't have the ability to do it themselves."

The committee vote was unanimous. Student e-mails would not be included. The bill draft will now be considered by the Legislative Management Committee before it's introduced.