FAQ: How Long Do I Keep Email?

A long time ago (relative to our blog’s history), we published the first of many frequently-asked-question articles about retention of email. The answer we give today when people ask how long to keep email is still the same (“it depends!”), but we have since published many more articles dissecting the topic. Today, we’ve compiled a list of pertinent blog posts about email, as well as a downloadable flow chart that you can use and share in your office.

Read more about managing email



We polished up a simple flowchart that walks through the so-called “3-Step Drill” for managing email, which we teach in our classes. The basic premise is this:

  • Ask yourself if the email qualifies as a government record as defined in the Local Government Records Act or the State Records Management Laws. Does the contents of the email conduct government business? Immediately delete spam, advertisements, or emails of a personal nature.
  • Then consider whether or not the content in the email is part of your responsibility as a government employee. Is the business being discussed requiring you to take action? If not, it might just be a convenience copy for you. Forward to the right person, if necessary, or delete.
  • And then ask yourself if you are the custodian obligated to retain the email for the full retention period. Are you the designated person at your organization responsible for maintaining records related to the subject? Many times, but not always, the sender is the custodian. You aren’t obligated to retain emails originating from top level executives announcing program changes. With that example, for you it’s just a convenience copy; they will keep the original.

Feel free to download and share in your office! Flowchart – How long do I keep my email 2018-11

2 thoughts on “FAQ: How Long Do I Keep Email?

  1. My question is, how long do you keep the emails of an employee that is no longer with the City?

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