County to establish first e-mail data policy

The Mille Lacs County commissioners received an overview of a data practices policy on which they will vote at an upcoming meeting. The county has had email service for 12 years, and information systems professional Mike Virnig said a policy to manage the resulting data has never been implemented.
Virnig said, “Some people still have emails from 12 years ago.”
He said the proposed data practices policy establishes an email retention schedule of six months. Staff members could delete the old messages themselves, but if they don’t, the system will do it automatically. Virnig anticipated an extender program to make a quick process for saving key emails and attachments and an automatic system that saves any data on a legal hold.
He said he had set his for six months’ retention as a trial run and has not noticed the difference. Virnig said he does not often need to look back that far.
“There’s always going to be initial pushback,” he said about how employees are likely to react to the new policy.
It will be a change in work habits, so people will regard it warily but probably find that it doesn’t make a huge difference or even that it is easier. The policy is necessary, the group said, because the data retention requires expensive storage space on a server and because a data policy helps the county be prepared to respond to any public information requests.