Department: Finance

Effective Date:    4/16/96

Supersedes:    N/A

Staff Contact:    Victoria Runkle

Approved by:    Jesse Tanner


To establish policy and procedures for use of the City e-mail system.

Electronic records, including e-mail messages, are public records under Washington State’s Public Disclosure Act (RCW 42.17) and the law governing preservation and destruction of public records (RCW 40.14). All employees are required to assure compliance with these laws in their use of the e-mail system.

Because the City owns its electronic computing system and all the records that are transmitted and maintained on it, all e-mail files are regarded as official City business records and none can be considered the private property of employees. All e-mail records are subject to review and disclosure by supervisory or other personnel, at any time and without prior notice, to assure compliance with State law and this policy. Consequently, the City’s e-mail system is not the appropriate forum for any discussion of confidential or personal issues.


All Departments/Divisions


RCW 42.17 and RCW 40.14


4.1    It is the policy of the City of Renton to encourage use of the e-mail system as a method of increasing employee productivity, thereby improving the overall capabilities of the City to serve its citizens.

4.2    The City of Renton encourages its employees to utilize the e-mail system, whenever practical, in lieu of using paper. This method is more efficient and less expensive, and helps conserve a natural resource.

4.3    All computerized records on PCs, including e-mail, are subject to public disclosure.

4.4    In order to keep the e-mail system operating at optimum capacity, non-business use of the system is discouraged.


5.1    Public Disclosure

All e-mail files are regarded as official City business records and not the personal property of employees. All computer records are not regarded as confidential or personal. They are subject to review and disclosure by supervisory or other personnel at any time without prior notification to employees. As such, there should be absolutely no discussion of personal issues via e-mail.

5.2    Electronic Records

Records stored or archived to a form that only a computer can process and the electronic transfer of information between staff, typically in the form of electronic notes and memoranda.

5.3    Frivolous Use of System

Frivolous use of the system is defined as that not connected with the daily business of the City, with the exception of specific circumstances listed below.

5.3.1    Circumstances Where Non-business Use of the System is Permissible

The following list indicates special circumstances where use by City employees of the e-mail system for other than strictly business is permissible:

·    Announcement of birth/adoption of a child

·    Employee recognition announcements

·    Announcement of death in family

·    Announcement of hospitalization/severe illness

5.3.2    Circumstances Where Non-business Use of the System is Not Permissible

Examples of circumstances where use by City employees of the e-mail system for other than strictly business is not permissible:

·    Solicitation of any kind

·    “Free to a good home” postings

·    “Have you seen my hat” postings

5.4    Public Records

Includes any writing containing information related to the conduct of government or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function prepared, owned, used, or retained by the City of Renton regardless of physical form or characteristics.

5.5    Retention Period

The length of time a record should be retained. The retention requirements for e-mail and other electronic records are the same as the retention requirements for similar paper records listed on records retention schedules approved by the State Local Records Committee. Questions of retention schedules should be forwarded to the City Clerk’s office. The Information Services staff is not responsible for ensuring the record is retained.

5.6    Appropriate Communication

E-mail is to be used for professional business communications. Use of language and subject matter should reflect business purposes. All use of E-mail must comply with the City’s practices regarding fair employment and sexual harassment policies.


As e-mail has become more popular within organizations such as the City of Renton, as well as across the Internet, some general rules of conduct have developed that can be considered etiquette or good manners:

·    Use forethought in composing e-mail messages--do not send messages with typos or misspellings

·    Use the recipient’s correct e-mail address

·    Do not send globally (to everyone on the system) messages meant for a particular individual or group

·    Be certain to qualify humor with a “:-)” lest it be misinterpreted

·    Do not type in ALL CAPS-it is considered shouting

·    Do not indulge in “flaming”-a term for confrontational e-mail exchange


7.1    To maintain optimum performance of the e-mail system, it is important that housekeeping of mailboxes be performed on a regular basis. Read messages promptly, do not retain large numbers of outdated messages, and delete unneeded read messages daily.

7.2    The e-mail system is an important factor in the City’s ability to serve its citizens to the best of its ability, and all employees are encouraged to utilize it strictly in an efficient, professional manner.