Managing public records and protecting city data

The public’s right to review city records is critical to government transparency and community trust. As such, we have very specific rules around what files to keep and for how long. From time to time we update these rules to reflect changing times and public expectations. In addition, policy frameworks relating to where we store city data also need to be updated.

The City Council recently approved an update to the city’s records retention policy. Consistent with Council’s actions I am issuing Administrative Order 88 – Information Systems Usage policy , which references the new records retention schedule and implements new policy to protect city data and systems. Please review both of these documents.

Following are some tips and previews of upcoming changes:

The new retention schedule for email is two years.

  • Effective Dec. 15, all emails older than two years will be permanently deleted.

  • Any emails (including attachments to emails) that need to be stored longer than two years should be manually saved outside of the email platform before Dec. 15.

  • Keep in mind that although you may store emails outside of the email platform, you may only keep emails longer than two years if they are exempt from the retention policy. For example, some emails need to be kept longer because of litigation or they belong in a project file.

  • If you have questions about these exceptions, please call Pat Downie at 760-602-2738.

  • Once emails are deleted Dec. 15, they cannot be recovered.

City data may only be stored on city devices, networks and systems.

  • Use of cloud based data storage systems such as Dropbox is prohibited unless authorized by IT. IT cannot control these services, and they are not an appropriate place to store city data.

  • Likewise, do not store city data on your personal devices.

  • If you have used these sites or have city data on a personal device, please move all to city-approved system by Dec. 15.

  • If you need assistance using the city’s existing systems to store data (primarily our city network, SharePoint and Teams), please contact IT.

All mobile telephone and data accounts are managed centrally by IT.

  • Do not set up your own cell phone or data account for city use or obtain a mobile hot spot through your department or division.

  • You may put in a ticket through ServiceNow to order a city phone, iPad or hot spot, based on need and with the approval of your department director.

As public employees, the data on any device used for work could be considered a public record.

  • This includes emails and Team chats, text messages and other communication.

  • These communications and devices could also be monitored and subject to discovery as a part of legal proceedings.

I’d like to thank the City Attorney’s Office, City Clerk’s Office and IT Department, which have been working on updating our records management and data storage practices and policies for more than a year. As we now move into implementation, every city employee is responsible for being a good custodian of public records and, by extension, the public’s trust in their local government.