November 15, 2007
Still more on "The Purge"

Elise Hu continues doing good work on what she calls "The Purge", about the email retention policy of Governor Perry's office and how it relates to Texas' open record laws. Turns out that at least one state office hasn't had any of the issues that Perry has claimed as justification for keeping its mail servers so clean:

[T]he Texas Department of Transportation, TXDOT -- is doing what the Governor's office says cannot be done. The open-records-crusader, John Washburn, pointed me to TXDOT's testimonial on the website of its consultant, Messaging Architects. Not only does TXDOT keep its emails, it can electronically search and sort them from its archives.

As a state agency, TxDOT needs to be compliant to the Texas Public Information Act, which was designed to provide access to public information, including email messages and other electronically delivered documents. To fulfill this requirement in the most cost-effective way, TxDOT needed an enterprise-class solution capable of processing over 11,000 GroupWise mailboxes while also providing quick and easy access to the contents of archived mailboxes. In addition, given the scope of the project, access to expert-level GroupWise technical support in the deployment phase was seen as a priority.

It seems even TXDOT -- an agency roundly criticized for its secrecy -- has found a permanent home for its emails in order to comply with the TPIA.

Groupwise, huh? If that's standard for the government as a whole, then what I wrote before about Exchange deleted email retention isn't operative. I claim no expertise on Groupwise, though I'd still bet that the claim of "wiping clean the server after seven days" is at the least way too broad. My suggestion for the next angle to pursue in this story is to track down whoever the email administrator is for the Governor's office and ask him or her 1) what exactly the Governor's policy means in technical terms, and 2) why exactly their claimed lack of server space is an issue for them but apparently not for other agencies. I'll help translate the geekspeak if you need me to.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 15, 2007 to Show Business for Ugly People

The Legislature (and I'm pretty sure the Gov's office) moved to Outlook a couple years ago from Groupwise. I'm pretty sure TxDOT did the same. HHSC did the same and has used Outlook for at least a couple years. Both HHSC and the Lege's Outlook will delete emails after, I think, 60 days if you don't archive them. Nonetheless, I'm pretty sure it's not that hard to OR those emails, people are just hesitant to adjust to change and openness.

Posted by: joe on November 16, 2007 12:11 AM