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City Law Department Automatically Deletes Workers' Emails After 90 Days

By James Fanelli | March 12, 2015 7:19am
 The city Law Department has a policy in place which emails in employees' inbox and sent folders are deleted after the 90 days.
The city Law Department has a policy in place which emails in employees' inbox and sent folders are deleted after the 90 days.
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NEW YORK CITY — The city Law Department has had an email-deletion policy in place since 2009, DNAinfo New York has learned.

Under the policy, emails in agency employees' inbox and sent folders are automatically purged after 90 days, according to sources.

The revelation contradicts information a City Hall official provided DNAinfo New York earlier this week for a story about Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration working on a policy in its final two years that would have automatically deleted the emails of employees in 14 city agencies, including the Law Department.

The Bloomberg-era policy was supposed to go into effect in 2013, after all 14 agencies had migrated over to servers hosted by the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, according to a Law Department document obtained by DNAinfo.

But City Hall spokeswoman Christina Levin told DNAinfo on Friday that the policy was scrapped and that there was no citywide auto-delete policy.

After DNAinfo learned through sources that the Law Department does have an auto-delete policy in place, Levin said in a statement Tuesday night that City Hall's previous response was specifically in regard to the 2012 policy.

She said the Law Department — which represents city agencies, workers and elected officials in civil litigation — implemented the policy in 2009 to increase efficiency and cut costs.

Levin added that City Hall was not aware of any other agencies with auto-delete policies.

The Law Department has more than 1,400 lawyers and support professionals. Under the agency's policy, employees can move important emails to protected folders so they're not deleted during the automatic purges. Those emails are kept for a certain length of time set by an agency retention schedule.

The email of top brass at the Law Department is not subject to the purges and is retained and archived, according to Levin.

Government retention of emails has become a hot topic in recent weeks.

Capital New York reported on Feb. 25 that Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration had recently implemented a policy that automatically deletes the emails of rank-and-file state workers after 90 days, drawing the ire of good government groups who warn of the loss of key records.

Hillary Clinton has also been heavily criticized in the past two weeks for using her private email to conduct government business while she served as Secretary of State.