Are county emails public record?

So I’ve been asked if county emails are public record.

The PA Open Records Office says “They can be. The RTKL doesn’t distinguish between various types of records (e.g., printed letters and memos, electronic databases, emails). An email goes through the same analysis as any other record to determine whether it is a public record and subject to release.

So the next question – does Fayette County have a policy on “keeping emails”.
My response… “have a policy” and “follow a policy” are two different things with county government in Fayette County.

So the last question was – does Fayette County “delete emails”
My response was that county servers and county computers are not unlike servers & computers in the personal or business world all need upgraded from time to time, all need to be cleaned up from time to time, etc. I recall the last 2 administrations (vicites, zapotosky, zimmerlink) (ambrosini, zapotosky, zimmerlink) and the current administration (vicites, lohr, zimmerlink) that our computers often “froze” etc and the IT dept telling commissioners & all staff to delete unnecessary emails. “Unnecessary” was defined. I can tell you that I viewed from staff computers Hundreds yes Hundreds of emails that staff had in the Inbox unopened or in their “Deleted” box but never trashed. The directive was, pursuant to IT and in accordance with the county’s record retention policy, to delete/trash those emails permitted to be deleted/trashed. It was also said by IT that emails are never really deleted as they are saved on their server.

In addition, it was directed (although believe it ..not followed and still is not today) for county email to be used solely for county business (not weddings, parties, birthdays, auctions, political events, QVC, amazon etc)………

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