Government correspondence once left a paper trail, but increasingly e-mail has been the preferred format. Policies on e-mail retention can create problems in how the materials are stored and accessed. According to the Rapid City Journal, deleted e-mails in the South Dakota state government are flushed out of the system after 37 days, and e-mails from former employees are deleted after 30 days. Investigators into criminal dealings of Richard Benda found his e-mail account had been deleted. The Journal notes that South Dakota is in a minority of states that do not consider government e-mails to be public records.
The Rapid City Journal also shares information from Kristopher Stenson, an electronic-records archivist for the Illinois State Archive. Stenson stresses the importance of a good record-maintenance policy for e-mails, noting that other political papers have always been added to archives.
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