Developing a Policy for Managing Email
by Ann Marie Przybyla
View, download, or print the complete version of Publication 85 in:
#62 Managing Email Effectively
Table of Contents
Principles and Best Practices
Policy 1: Village of Hidden Valley
Policy 2: Town of Big Thunder
Policy 3: State Office of Administrative Support and Analysis
Appendix: The Legal Framework
Until now, most organizations have failed to include email in a formal management policy or program. This omission is no longer acceptable, because email can be a record and an information asset, email can be used as evidence in a court of law, and failure to control email can be very costly.
These guidelines are intended as a starting point for state agencies and local governments to use for writing policies and procedures that will guide a program for managing email. Agencies and governments should adapt the guidelines to meet their own needs and capabilities, and continue to update their policies on an as-needed basis.
Principles and best practices
- Some general principles and best practices for managing email are listed below and are discussed more fully in Section 2 of these guidelines.
- Understand email use, develop strategies that are selective, and focus resources where they are most needed.
- Manage centrally, reducing reliance on the end user.
- Manage electronically as much as possible, reducing reliance on users and manual management strategies.
- Ensure cooperation, coordination, and support; that is, ensure the cooperation of all users of the email system, the coordination of several key individuals throughout the organization, and management support.
- Address any backlog by developing a strategy that is based on solid reasoning and a rational disposition strategy and that is documented in an email management policy.
Components of a policy
Any policy that governs an email management program must address-but not necessarily be limited to-the following points (see Section 3 for more detail):
- Essential elements of the email management system: What are the system capabilities and functions? What information and records are in the system?
- Classifying email: Which emails are records? Which emails are not records for legal purposes? What are the required security levels, filing rules, and indexing fields?
- Access and retrieval: How do users find emails? How can users enhance access? To which emails do users have access? How will access be provided to the public? Under what circumstances is access denied to the public?
- E-discovery: What is the process of responding to impending litigation? Who initiates the response? How and when is the process initiated?
- Storage: What is the range of storage options used? How long will emails
remain on the server? When, if ever, are emails transferred to removable
- Retention and disposition:What are the retention periods for different
types of emails in the government or agency? How is retention managed?
When and how are obsolete emails destroyed?
- Preservation: How are long-term and permanent emails preserved?
What formats and media are used? How does the government or agency
track and manage migration? How does it ensure media integrity? How
and when does a state agency transfer archival emails to the State
- Information security:What technical and procedural measures are in
place to ensure information security?
- Appropriate use: How does the government or agency define the appropriate
use of email? How are these principles disseminated? How is
appropriate use monitored?What are the measures for addressing
- Staff training: How is staff trained on the email management policy?
What subject areas are addressed?
- Roles and responsibilities must be clearly assigned and defined for each
of the above components.
Included in Section 4 of the guidelines are three sample policies that reflect
the needs and capabilities of three sizes of government or agency. The sample policies illustrate how to use current best practices (Section 2) to integrate and address the above components (Section 3) in a policies and procedures document.