In April 2013, my office received a complaint from Member of Provincial Parliament Peter Tabuns (MPP), alleging that Mr. Craig MacLennan, the former Chief of Staff to the former Minister of Energy, had a practice of routinely deleting all of his emails. The MPP took the position that this practice was inappropriate. Of particular concern was the fact that this former political staffer had been involved in discussions surrounding the cancellation of the gas plants which had attracted a great deal of media attention and was the subject of a review by the Legislature’s Standing Committee on Justice Policy. The review by the Standing Committee on Justice Policy stemmed from a 2012 motion by the Estimates Committee, and a subsequent Speaker’s ruling, for the production of documents related to the closure of the gas plants.Dit uitgebreid citaat komt uit de "Executive Summary" van het rapport Deleting Accountability: Record Management Practices of Political Staff van de Information and Privacy Officer van Ontario.
Upon receipt of this complaint, my office immediately launched an investigation. Of significant concern to both the complainant and my office was that, despite more than 56,500 pages of responsive records having been produced by the Ministry of Energy and the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), not one responsive record was produced by political staff in the Minister of Energy’s office.
During the course of the interviews we conducted as part of our investigation, we met with the Secretary of the Cabinet. During this interview, we learned that in early 2013, staff in the former Premier’s office had approached him, asking questions about how to permanently delete emails and other electronic documents. While the Secretary took steps to inform them of their obligations, I was very concerned with the prospect of inappropriate deletions of electronic records by political staff in the former Premier’s office. As a result, I decided to expand the scope of my investigation.
It is difficult to accept that the routine deletion of emails was not in fact an attempt by staff in the former Minister’s office to avoid transparency and accountability in relation to their work. Further, I have trouble accepting that this practice was simply part of a benign attempt to efficiently manage one’s email accounts.
While I cannot state with certainty that there was inappropriate deletion of emails by the former Premier’s staff as part of the transition to the new Premier in an effort to avoid transparency and accountability, I concluded that the email management practices of the former Premier’s office were in violation of the obligations set out in the ARA.
This failure to comply with the records retention requirements of the ARA, coupled with a culture of avoiding the creation of written and electronic records, assists in explaining the apparent paucity of documents relating to the gas plant closures produced by the offices of the former Minister of Energy and the former Premier.
Het rapport is het verslag van een "speciaal onderzoek" van de commissaris en het is interessant - en helaas zelfs herkenbaar - leesvoer.
Vooral de passages over de "mondelinge" cultuur vind ik verhelderend:
We were told by MacLennan and Livingston that while there were frequent in-person meetings with the various players involved on the gas plants file, the only information that would generally be captured in writing would be an email proposing a meeting. MacLennan explained that the Minister’s office was a “very verbal office.” He would encourage his staff to talk through an issue face-to-face, instead of using a form of written documentation. We were told that the former Minister’s office kept a particularly hectic pace and that staff were always trying to manage high-profile issues and “put out fires.” He candidly stated that records management would have been one of the last things on the minds of political staff. This verbal culture may have been prevalent within the former Premier’s office as well. Livingston stated that meetings were held every morning but no notes were ever taken. In his view, verbal communications were sufficient and there was no need to document the information exchanged.Maar lees vooral het hele rapport, want ook de passages over de pogingen om verwijderde e-mailberichten alsnog te redden zijn zeer informatief.
E-mail is toch geen archief?
Nog maar eens over e-mail en archief (en de Wob)
Plaatje: Is email dead? van Cambodia4kids