Using personal email makes public business private

Submitted by LDieringer on Tue, 01/22/2013 - 3:54pm

From The Deming Highlight:

(January 20, 2013) - Here in New Mexico we're very lucky to have excellent laws that guarantee your right to know what your government is up to. The Inspection of Public Records Act was designed to ensure, as it's authors wrote, "all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of public officers and employees." But IPRA dates from 1994, when only a small fraction of us had computers on our desks at work. How things have changed!
 
These days it seems almost everything we do is processed electronically at one point, and that includes most of the business conducted by public officials and employees. But when officials use their private accounts to conduct public business, that promise of transparency is clouded. That's because the rank-and-file employees charged with responding to public records requests, have no way of easily retrieving public records that might be lurking in their bosses' private accounts.
 
Devotees of open government in New Mexico have always known that public record is a public record no matter where it is physically located-whether a report sits in a filing cabinet in the office or in an employee's briefcase at home, for example.
 
[...]
 
Lately, folks have been asking us about the details of email and how it should be treated in terms of public records requests. So we sat down and agreed on some points:

New Mexico Foundation for Open Government is a member of NFOIC. Gwyneth Doland is the executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, an independent, nonpartisan,nonprofit member organization that has worked for more transparency in New Mexico since 1990.