Billings is poised to take a real step forward in digital transparency. At its meeting next week, the Yellowstone County Commission will consider a policy that would require county government to archive all its emails and make those messages easier to search and retrieve, the Billings Gazette writes.
Emails are already considered public documents in Montana and have been so considered for at least a decade.
The proposed policy calls for keeping all emails received or created by county employees. The emails shall be considered public documents and may be released to the public, subject to state law that allows for limits on information deemed confidential under the Criminal Justice Information Act, where individual privacy outweighs the public’s right to know and where public or individual safety may be at risk.
Elected officials and department heads will be trained on the new system and right-to-know law and will be required to train their employees, Schwarz said. Each department will be able to release its own emails without seeking approval from the county attorney, but can call if there is a question, he said.
The software-based system would replace a tape backup system that makes searching laborious and expensive, the Gazette reported.