Use of Email in City Government – Handling Employee Affairs
The use of email by government officials often becomes headline news. It is important that city officials and employees keep in mind that emails are like any other public record in that each one, outside of an exception found in KRS 61.878, can constitutes a public record subject to the Open Records Act and the Record Retention Schedule. Misuse of city email not only damages the reputation of the person misusing it, but also greatly damages the reputation of the city and its appointed and elected officials.
As such, cities should have a policy in place that informs employees of what is and is not acceptable. Policies at the least should:
- Advise that the Open Records Act as well as the Department of Libraries and Archives Record Retention Schedule is applicable to the city and its agencies;
- Notify employees that the city monitors email and internet usage, and that employees should have no expectation of privacy, as anything sent out over the communications or computer system could constitute an open record;
- Instruct employees about the proper use of its communications and computer systems (i.e. city use only or whether occasional personal use is permitted); and
- Have an acknowledgement form signed by all employees stating that they have read and understand all the city policies.
No better time than the present for cities to:
- Review, update and redistribute their policies regarding employee use of city e-mail and internet access;
- Remind employees that city resources should only be used for legitimate, business purposes;
- Consider blocking access to certain websites on city-provided computers and internet;
- Reiterate that employees have no expectation of privacy when it comes to their use of city electronic systems.
Also keep in mind that as city email should not be used for personal business, city officials should not use theirpersonal email accounts for city business, since again, they are subject to the Open Records Act as well as the Record Retention Schedule. For more information on this topic see the previous Use of Email in City Government article.
For sample personnel policies or more information on this or any other personnel matter, contact Andrea Shindlebower, Personnel Services Specialist, at email@example.com.