Emails and public documents on private computers

Topic Progress:

If email is used to conduct public business, the email is a public record even though a personal account is used. The person using the personal account is effectively using, creating, receiving, maintaining or holding the public record on behalf of the public body. The Attorney General’s Open Meetings Compliance Guide (8th Ed. 2015) (“AG IPRA Guide”) Commentary, p. 25


Not every email of a public official is considered a public record. The email must relate to public business and be maintained or held on behalf of a public body to be a public record. AG IPRA Guide, Commentary, p. 25


When a public official uses a private computer to conduct public business, all emails, documents and related records about public business are subject to IPRA and must be turned over pursuant to a public records request. Public officials should be strongly discouraged from using private email accounts for public business.