It’s 10 p.m. Do You Know Where Your E-mail Is?

E-mail Practices in the News.

Although we often hear complaints of “too much e-mail” (a topic perhaps for another day), in the news this week, the topic of e-mail was in the headlines after it was revealed that White House officials under President Bush may have improperly used their Republican National Committee (RNC) e-mail accounts to conduct official government business.

Why is this a problem?  After all, many people think nothing of using their personal Gmail or Hotmail e-mail accounts for work-related purposes.

They should think again.

Knowledge workers who use personal e-mail accounts for company business are possibly violating their company’s usage policies but are also placing valuable knowledge in a container that will not be accessible to anyone months down the road.

By using non-governmental e-mail for government business, some communications that are required to be preserved under federal law may have been lost – a fact the White House acknowledged yesterday.

Deputy Press Secretary Scott Stanzel advised that the administration has begun its own inquiry and that the policy governing the use of RNC and other political e-mail accounts was somewhat vague.  He also acknowledged that the White House had not been aggressive enough in monitoring the use of such e-mail systems and that some people who had RNC accounts did not follow official policy close enough.

“Some official emails have potentially been lost,” said Stanzel, although he added that the president had instructed the White House counsel’s office to attempt to retrieve lost e-mail messages.

Basex has had a very clear e-mail usage policy for well over a decade.  One tenet of the policy is that only Basex e-mail is to be used for Basex business.  We view e-mail messages as a treasure, a resource that holds knowledge that may very well need to be retrieved years later.  Our policy predates the current trend of retaining e-mail for governance and compliance purposes.  It was just common sense back then and it remains so today.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

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