Email Management Policy: Tips and Ideas

Some of the consulting questions we receive revolve around the subject of how to manage email and email records. From those questions the matter becomes how should a government entity address the management of its email. The best way an entity can capture their practices and procedures for email management is to create a policy. So, what management components and considerations would be included in an email management policy? Let’s go over those elements.


Here we are providing advisable best practices and ideas to construct an email management policy. We are not mandating the exact components or language that will be used by your entity to create a policy. This will be an internal policy. If you do construct an email management policy, you do not need to send it to TSLAC for approval.

What is Email Management:

Essentially, email management is the application of techniques to the retention, capture, maintenance, and disposition of emails created and received in the transaction of public business. That “transaction” refers to emails that relate to correspondence, information, or action pertaining to the responsibilities and operations of the government entity.


In creating an email management policy for your entity, you will structure it in a similar format to the other policies made by your entity. The arrangement of the policy may include the following: scope, purpose/intent, authority, privacy/confidentiality, responsibility, retention, filing, maintenance, disposition, training, and an appendix with further resources. Certain of these elements may be combined into one section and others are recommended in determining the guidelines for managing email and use of the entity’s email system. The outline of what to include in an email management policy should be adapted to your entity’s functions and use. So, let’s break down each of the sections and what details to include within each of them:

  • Scope: This section goes over a preview of the policy, who the policy’s audience is, and what the policy applies to: email records and the maintenance of the information stored in them.
  • Purpose/Intent: This part provides the “why,” or reason the policy is needed, sets the goals, actions and what the standards are for email management.
  • Authority: This part includes the laws and rules – local, state, or federal – as well as any rules that pertain to records management, security, and use of email. For example, this would include for local governments Local Government Code Chapter 201, and for state agencies Government Code Chapter 441.
  • Privacy/Confidentiality: For this section, address what would constitute a confidential communication. Be sure to note that though they have this distinction, these records are still subject to open records laws, legal holds, audits, and may be needed for other administrative purposes. Consider adding a standardized sample of a confidentiality notice to use for emails with protected information.
  • Responsibility: In this section, set the roles and responsibilities of managing email, from the assignment of new accounts to the designation of who is the record custodian of the email based on the function and purpose of the email. Possibly include what the procedures are for email accounts when an employee separates from the governmental entity. For example, determine what the employee should do before leaving, such as sort emails for disposition, and spell out who holds the responsibility of the email account before final disposition, such as a supervisor, manager, director, or the records management officer.
  • Retention: Cover how to identify the retention requirements for email records based on their corresponding record series. Add examples of common email types that are received by your entity to their corresponding series with RSIN (local governments) or AIN (state agencies). Add links to reference the retention schedules to help in finding the record series and retention such as the Schedule GR: Records Common to All Local Governments for local governments and for state agencies, their custom retention schedule. Determine if there are any auto-deletion policies in your entity’s email system that would conflict retention periods of the emails in your employees’ inboxes and explain how employees should retain emails in that scenario.
  • Filing and Maintenance: In this section, offer suggestions as to how to set up a filing system in the email account. This could be a template of commonly created and received emails maintained by your entity or tips on streamline filing efficiency and best practices. Explain the format and method employees should use to retain emails in their email account or outside the email server within a network drive for purposes of retention for long-term preservation.
  • Disposition: Convey the rules of final disposition of email records in accordance with laws, statues, or administrative codes related to the disposition of records and information. Set out the procedures and chain of command for when it comes time for disposing of emails, such as checking the retention period of the emails, destruction authorizations, or approvals. Possibly include guidance on emails identified as transitory information with explanations to why they are not essential to agency business and add examples as to what they may be to help identifying them.
  • Training: Add any training information or links about email records or records management to aid your entity in the practice and importance of email management. Incorporate this training into onboarding of new employees and any annual training you might provide for your entity.
  • Appendix: This portion of the policy is where you add any additional resources and reference materials such as links to the laws and statutes. Create a definitions section for any terminology or entity jargon.

Additional Pointers:

After you have drafted the policy, distribute it to your entity’s stakeholders, such as IT, managers, etc., for them to review it for feedback to see what needs to be expounded on further, clarified, or removed.

Include an approval section by high-level administrator(s).

At the footer of the document add the effective date and the revised date after updates.

In drafting the policy, use clear, straightforward language based on positive actions that make it direct and easy to follow. Essentially, you do not have to use constant “Do Not” verbiage to inform the employees in guidance or administration.

In all, the policy itself assumes the active user of the email account will follow the policy and acknowledge that emails are records.

Final Thoughts:

To sum up, the guidance provided here contains tips and best practices on how to construct an email management policy for your entity, whether you are a local government or state agency. The information provided is adaptable to your entity’s practices and structure.

If you already have an email management policy, what other information and advice would you provide? Let us know in the comments.

For more recommendations on email management check out the blog article below:

One thought on “Email Management Policy: Tips and Ideas

  1. To send or not to send, that is the query:
    Whether ’tis nobler in the inbox to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous replies,
    Or to take arms against a sea of emails,
    And by deleting, end them? To unsubscribe, to archive—
    No more; and by unsubscribing to say we end
    The headache and the thousand natural distractions
    That email is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wished. To unsubscribe, to archive—
    To archive, perchance to find a clean inbox—ay, there’s the rub:
    For in that state of bliss, what new messages may come,
    When we have shuffled off this email overload,
    Must give us pause. There’s the respect
    That makes calamity of such long email threads.

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