Haley updates state records policy

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COLUMBIA — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s office is updating a decades-old policy on what records must be kept and what can be destroyed following criticism about deleted e-mails.

Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the office is working with the state Department of Archives and History to create a new record retention policy for governors. It’s expected to be finalized and released in January.

Haley has drawn fire after open records requests from media outlets raised questions about her office’s deletion of e-mails.

Godfrey says Haley’s office adopted the same policy of previous administrations, substituting her name in the title.

The policy on what her office must retain is believed to be a leftover from 1974, and predates e-mails and other technology – making references throughout to microfilm – and can be open to interpretation. But Godfrey says the governor’s office has followed the law.

The policy being drafted requires retaining all e-mails sent or received by the governor.

“To be clear, the office of the governor does not have a ‘deletion’ policy,” Godfrey said. “But now we’ll have a stronger and more specific retention schedule that we’ll have developed” with the archives agency.

Haley says it’s the right thing to do.

“We have retained thousands of records and correspondence that will be preserved for archiving at the end of the administration,” Haley said in a statement. “But we have also found room for strengthening the police – and, as we always do, when we see something that needs to be fixed, we fix it.”

Haley says she’ll also ask legislators to require that public records officers in all agencies undergo annual training from the archives department on records retention laws and guidelines.

The State newspaper reported last month that it discovered e-mails were being deleted after a Freedom of Information Act request. The Columbia newspaper was told that staffers delete e-mails because of limited storage space on servers and because the correspondence wasn’t considered important.

On a separate issue, The Post and Courier reported earlier this month that it received e-mails written by the governor and aides through a public records request to a panel overseen by the state’s Medicaid agency, which weren’t turned over during a nearly identical open records request to Haley’s office earlier this year.


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