Software System Used By City Allows Archiving, Retention -- Or Deletion -- Of Public Record Emails As City Wishes...So Who Inside City Hall Allowed, Directed Or Knew Of Deleting These Public Record Emails?
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LBREPORT.com continues to follow-up below on our report and publisher's statement related to the City of Long Beach allowing the deletion of public record emails of high level City elected and management officials within 30 days of their retirement/exit from City positions,(April 13, 2017, 8:17 a.m.) -- LBREPORT.com has learned that a Microsoft software system, which the City contracted to license through with a third-party vendor, allows archiving and retention -- or deletion -- of public record emails and related documents in a manner decided by the user, in this case, by the City of Long Beach.
The MS 365 system's capabilities described by Microsoft (details below) indicate the City as licensed user had flexibility and control over its archiving, retention or deletion of emails and documents. As previously reported by LBREPORT.com, in 2006 the Long Beach City Council enacted an ordinance meant that prohibits the destruction of public records involving the Mayor, City Councilmembers, other elected officials and city department heads on their exits from City positions unless the City follows specific procedures and rules.
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The Microsoft MS 365 system (access to which the City licensed through a third party vendor in November 2013) describes the following capabilities within the the software's "Data governance" features:
[emphasis in original]...Archive
Use the Archive feature to enable or disable a user's archive mailbox, which provide users with an alternate storage location for historical messaging data. When you use the Content search feature in the Security & Compliance Center to search a user's mailbox, their archive mailbox will also be searched.
When archive mailboxes are enabled, an archive policy will automatically move messages from a userís primary mailbox to their archive mailbox after a specified period. And users can still access these messages in their archive mailbox. The default archive policy that is assigned to mailboxes moves messages to the archive mailbox two years after the date a message is delivered to the mailbox.
Office 365 also provides unlimited storage capacity for archive mailboxes when you enable the auto-expanding archiving feature. So when the storage quota in an archive mailbox is reached, Office 365 automatically increases the size of the archive. For more information, see Overview of unlimited archiving in Office 365.
Use the Retention feature to manage the lifecycle of email and documents by keeping the content you need and removing content after itís no longer required. While your organization may be required to retain content for a period of time because of compliance, legal, or other business requirements, keeping content longer than required might create unnecessary legal risk. These retention features let you manage how long your organization retains content.
Retention tags and policies Use to manage the email lifecycle by archiving or deleting messages that are older than a specified period. In Exchange, a default retention policy is assigned to a mailbox when itís created.
Document deletion policies Use to delete documents located in SharePoint site collections after a specific period of time. You can enforce a single mandatory policy on all site collections created from the same site collection template or you can allow site owners to choose from several policies that you centrally create and manage. You can also allow site owners to opt out altogether if they decide a policy doesnít apply to their content.
Preservation policies Use to preserve content in mailboxes, public folders, and sites in your organization. You can set up preservation policies to preserve the content indefinitely, until you remove the policy, or for a specific period of time. You can also specify a date range and keywords to narrow the content thatís preserved. Preserved content remains in-place, where it's currently located, so people can continue to work with it. If content is modified or deleted, a copy is saved to a secure location.
Microsoft says the MS365 system's capabilities include unlimited archiving and auto-expanding archiving:
In Office 365, archive mailboxes provide users with additional mailbox storage space. After a user's archive mailbox is enabled, up to 100 GB of additional storage is available. When the 100 GB storage quota is reached, organizations had to contact Microsoft to request additional storage space for an archive mailbox. That's no longer the case. The new unlimited archiving feature in Office 365 (called auto-expanding archiving) provides an unlimited amount of storage in archive mailboxes. Now, when the storage quota in the archive mailbox is reached, Office 365 automatically increases the size of the archive, which means that users won't run out of mailbox storage space and administrators won't have to request additional storage for archive mailboxes.
For step-by-step instructions for turning on auto-expanding archiving, see Enable unlimited archiving in Office 365 [text in this link omitted here.]
How auto-expanding archiving works
As previously explained, additional mailbox storage space is created when a user's archive mailbox is enabled. When auto-expanding archiving is enabled, Office 365 periodically checks the size of the archive mailbox. When an archive mailbox gets close to its storage limit, Office 365 automatically creates additional storage space to the archive. If the user runs out of this additional storage space, Office 365 adds more storage space to the user's archive. This process happens automatically, which means administrators don't have to request additional archive storage or manage auto-expanding archiving...
Here's a quick overview of the process.
1. Archiving is enabled for a user mailbox. An archive mailbox with 100 GB of storage space is created.
2. When the storage quota for the archive mailbox is reached, it's converted to an auto-expanding archive, and Office 365 adds storage space to the archive.
3. Office 365 automatically adds more storage space to the archive when necessary.
What gets moved to the additional archive storage space?
To make efficient use of auto-expanding archive storage, folders might get moved. Office 365 determines which folders get moved when additional storage is added to the archive. When a folder is moved, a subfolder is automatically created under the original folder in the archive portion of the folder list in Outlook. This new subfolder points to the items that were moved...
Auto-expanding archiving and other Office 365 compliance features
This section explains the functionality between auto-expanding archiving and other Office 365 compliance and data governance features.
Preservation When you put a mailbox on hold by using tools such as Litigation Hold in Exchange Online or eDiscovery case holds and preservation policies in the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center, content located in an auto-expanded archive is also placed on hold.
eDiscovery When you use an Office 365 eDiscovery tool, such as Content Search or In-Place eDiscovery, the additional storage areas in an auto-expanded archive are also searched.
Messaging records management (MRM) If you use MRM deletion policies in Exchange Online to permanently delete expired mailbox items, expired items located in the auto-expanded archive will also be deleted.
Import service You can use the Office 365 Import service to import PST files to a user's auto-expanded archive. Currently, you can import up to 100 GB of data from PST files to the user's archive mailbox. This limit will be increased soon.
The issue came to LBREPORT.com's attention when we requested emails (on an Airport related issue) from former Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske...and were told that "Schipske's electronic mailbox was deleted 30 days after her term ended." We brought this to the attention of the City Prosecutor's office for its handling and presumed it was an isolated matter.
We subsequently learned in March 2017 (from a brief mention near the end of a PressTelegram story on Queen Mary maintenance) that the City officials had indicated that "all communication [with the city's now-retired economic and property development director] was deleted one month after he retired in August ."
As previously reported by LBREPORT.com, Long Beach has a Municipal Code ordinance enacted in 2006 by the City Council to prevent the destruction of public records of elected city officials including the Mayor, Councilmembers, any other electeds and the heads of city departments unless the City follows certain specific procedures. (The ordinance was advanced by then-entering Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, who found 5th district Council records of her predecessor had been destroyed.)
LB Municipal Code Section 1.28.010 provides: "[title] Records survive transition of officials. [text] All documents prepared, received or maintained by the office of the Mayor, City Councilmembers, by any elected City official, and by the head of any City Department, are the property of the City. The originals of these documents shall be maintained consistent with State law and the records retention policies of the City as set forth in the City Charter, and by administrative regulation." [LBREPORT.com attaches the City's administrative regulation here for reference.]
In December 2016, LBREPORT.com requested certain emails from former Councilwoman Schipske regarding a LB Airport matter. In February 2017, the City's Records Coordinator informed us that "Schipske's electronic mailbox was deleted 30 days after her term ended." We brought this to the attention of the City Prosecutor's office for its handling and presumed it was an isolated matter.
We then subsequently learned in March 2017 (from a brief mention near the end of a PressTelegram story on Queen Mary maintenance) that City officials had indicated that "all communication [with the city's now-retired economic and property development director] was deleted one month after he retired in August ."
In an April 10 email response to LBREPORT.com's inquiries (Mar. 15, reiterated April 7), Assistant City Attorney Mike Mais stated:
[Ass't City Att'y Mais April 10 email] In 2014, the City of Long Beach migrated from the Lotus Notes system to MS365 (Outlook/Exchange) as its email solution. The City does not treat the MS365 email system as a records management system. Non-transitory items which are covered under the City's records retention policy require the user to transfer those documents from MS365 to either paper, or another online file store. During migration from the Lotus Notes system to MS365 (Outlook/Exchange) the City looked at industry best practices and standards for email storage of transitory (non-record) items, at which the City contracted with Microsoft for 30-days storage of email when someone leaves City service. If the City were to expand the window of email storage beyond 30 days, the City would incur additional on-going costs for the increase in storage. That said, the City will be reviewing its current policies in the near future to determine if changes are warranted or necessary.
The City follows all laws regarding access to public documents and takes its responsibilities to provide access to public records very seriously. The City has a number of policies in place with regards to records retention. Each individual employee is responsible for ensuring proper records are kept according to the City's policies. In addition, each department has an assigned individual who is responsible determining the records retention schedule of documents, in accordance with City policy. The City uses these policies to adhere to the Public Records Act, and provides thousands of pages of documents to requesting parties each year. Over the past year, for example, the City has responded to approximately 2,500 Public Records Requests.