Mike De Souza
The Star: August 27, 2014
The Conservative government is telling public servants to delete emails with no “business value,” opening the door to the destruction of potentially valuable records, say critics.
Employees must still preserve information as required by law, a government spokeswoman says, but instructions obtained by the Star show that employees were being told to delete some reference materials related to their work, including memos and copies of departmental documents.
Several departments have issued the instructions in recent weeks to delete records as part of a new two-gigabyte limit imposed on email inboxes for all federal employees based on a new standard , introduced by the secretariat of Treasury Board President Tony Clement .
“Clean up your mailbox and delete everything of no business value,” said a recent message sent to Environment Canada employees this summer.
The Environment Canada message included a poster listing different categories of what could be deleted and what should be preserved.
Documents “approved by your manager” were among the records that the department told employees to save. But some business-related emails fell into a “transitory” category that also includes “messages from your friends” or an “invitation to a party.”
The Environment Canada poster described these as “transitory reference” materials — which could include memorandums, copies of government reports, or reference material for subsequent work. The poster, which identified memos with an image of a paper airplane, showed these types of “transitory” documents going into a trash can.
The NDP’s access to information critic, MP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay) , slammed the instructions, warning that they might erase evidence of political interference or mistakes by managers prior to decisions on federal policies.
“We’ve seen many times where draft reports may contain very vital political information that could be changed, either through political interference or an attempt to whitewash an issue,” Angus said in an interview.
(read the full article at The Star)
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