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New state e-mail policy adopted

Critics say legislative action still needed to codify e-mail rules

Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The state of Alaska has announced it will begin requiring state employees to use only state e-mail systems to conduct state business, just days after its attorneys went to court to defend former Gov. Sarah Palin's use of a Yahoo e-mail account to avoid public scrutiny of her actions as governor.

The new policy was quietly implemented less than two weeks after former Gov. Sarah Palin left office on June 26. On Aug. 7, Annette Kreitzer, commissioner of the Department of Administration, imposed the new policy.

Alaska will now require use of state e-mail systems for all executive branch employees, and require that e-mails be archived so they can be retrieved.

"State business must be conducted through the state e-mail system whenever feasible," Kreitzer said in a Monday press release announcing the new policy.

Under the policy, "in any instance where private e-mail accounts are used, employees must send copies of e-mails to their state account."

The announcement of the new policy comes after the state Department of Law successfully blocked a summary judgment request from Palin watchdog Andrée McLeod in Anchorage Superior Court. She sued trying to require use of state e-mail for state business.

McLeod said Tuesday the policy announced by Kreitzer wasn't adequate and still could be evaded.

"This doesn't go far enough," she said.

McLeod said Palin used "Yahoo's shroud of secrecy" to conduct official business without public scrutiny.

In the Troopergate investigation of Palin's firing of former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, Palin's use of outside e-mail systems stymied investigators trying to document her actions.

Rep. Mike Doogan, D-Anchorage, has sponsored a bill to require use of state e-mail systems for state business.

He said Tuesday that the policy outlined by Kreitzer "would seem to solve the problem of state employees conducting state business on private e-mail accounts."

Doogan said his bill is still needed, despite the new policy.

"It's just a policy, which could be changed or abandoned at the whim of executive branch managers," he said.

Also on Tuesday, the state began phased implementation of a new e-mail archiving system expected to reduce response times and costs for the retrieval of archived e-mail. When Palin ran for vice-president, state officials quoted prices that ran into millions of dollars for searches of e-mails by people seeking information on Palin's activities as governor.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgeyat 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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