City E-Mails to Be Purged After 6 Months

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I wish I could do this!! It’s called CYA archive policy — you never know when that search for that old email will save you from the angry boss.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who uses three BlackBerrys and relies heavily on e-mails to communicate with top aides and residents, has decided that the majority of the city’s electronic messages should be destroyed after six months.

The pilot program, which will begin in January, is a response to the growing debate over how to handle government-generated e-mails. Fenty (D) issued the administrative policy July 5 without any fanfare, authorizing the Office of the Chief Technology Officer to eliminate most e-mails in what he described as a cost-saving measure. The order wasn’t made public until last week, when it was posted on the Web site of the Office of the Chief Technology Officer.

“All e-mail bearing a date older than six months . . . regardless of agency, sender, recipient or any other attribute — will be deleted automatically and permanently from the D.C. government e-mail system,” Fenty wrote in his order. “This deleted e-mail will not be retained on any media or log.”

I have one major pet-peeve: people who write an email, and expect an Instant Message back. If you need an instant reply, call me or send me an Instant Message. If you don’t have my phone number or Instant Message ID, its because I am NOT “instantly” available for you. Ahh…makes you long for the good old days of the pony express…

Which brings me to thoughts on corporate customer service. Consumers now days EXPECT to have some sort of support. If you are not planning on providing it, you must communicate it clearly and provide a self-help or user-generated alternative. Otherwise, your employees may find themselves overwhelmed by costumer support requests by resourceful high-demand users or customers.

You can do it the right way, or your staff may end up doing it anyway…the wrong way.

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