You Have Mail, but Who is Reading It? Issues of E-Mail in the Public Workplace

You Have Mail, but Who is Reading It? Issues of E-Mail in the Public Workplace

Charles L. Prysby (University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA) and Nicole D. Prysby (Attorney at Law, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-051-6.ch016
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The increasing use of electronic mail in the workplace has generated important legal questions for public organizations. The legal questions concerning e-mail in public institutions and agencies fall into two basic categories: (1) issues of employee privacy regarding e-mail messages, and (2) public access to e-mail under applicable freedom-of-information legislation. While the employer has broad legal grounds for reading workplace e-mail, at least if there is some legitimate business reason for doing so, employees frequently feel that such monitoring is an excessive invasion of their privacy, and the result sometimes is organizational conflict over these privacy issues. These privacy concerns have generated demands for greater protection of employee privacy in this area, and some states have responded with legislation that covers e-mail in the workplace. Government organizations also must treat at least some of their e-mail as part of the public record, making it open to public access, but this also can lead to conflict between public administrators, who may feel that much of their e-mail represents thoughts that were not intended for public disclosure, and external groups, such as the press, who feel that all such information belongs in the public domain. State laws vary considerably in terms of how they define the types of e-mail messages that are part of the public record, some being far more inclusive than others. Given the uncertainty and confusion that frequently exist regarding these legal questions, it is essential that public organizations develop and publicize an e-mail policy that both clarifies what privacy expectations employees should have regarding their e-mail and specifies what record-keeping requirements for e-mail should be followed to appropriately retain public records.

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
G. David Garson
Chapter 1
Alana Northrop
This chapter first points out the continued need for a reader on information technology by reviewing the early importance given to computing... Sample PDF
Lip Service? How PA Journals and Textbooks View Information Technology
Chapter 2
Stephen H. Holden
Federal agencies rely extensively on information technology to perform basic missions. Arguably, public administration should be driving the theory... Sample PDF
The Evolution of Federal Information Technology Management Literature: Does IT Finally Matter?
Chapter 3
Bruce Rocheleau
This chapter provides examples of the politics of managing information in public organizations by studying both its internal and external aspects.... Sample PDF
Politics, Accountability, and Information Management
Chapter 4
George T. Duncan, Stephen F. Roehrig
Government agencies collect and disseminate data that bear on the most important issues of public interest. Advances in information technology... Sample PDF
Reconciling Information Privacy and Information Access in a Globalized Technology Society
Chapter 5
Chris C. Demchak, Kurt D. Fenstermacher
This chapter explores the roles of names and name equivalents in social tracking and control, reviews the amount of privacy-sensitive databases... Sample PDF
Privacy-Sensitive Tracking of Behavior with Public Information Systems: Moving Beyond Names in a Globalizing Mass Society
Chapter 6
E-Government: An Overview  (pages 110-126)
Shannon Howle Schelin
Information technology has fundamentally altered many aspects of daily life, including interactions with the government. The role of the Internet... Sample PDF
E-Government: An Overview
Chapter 7
E-Participation Models  (pages 127-142)
Suzanne Beaumaster
Participation is the cornerstone of our governance process and has manifested in a variety of constructs since the inception of our government. As... Sample PDF
E-Participation Models
Chapter 8
Christopher G. Reddick
This chapter examines the relationship between e-government and the creation of a more citizen-centric government. This study provides a conceptual... Sample PDF
E-Government and Creating a Citizen-Centric Government: A Study of Federal Government CIOs
Chapter 9
Stuart W. Shulman
A large interagency group led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has worked diligently to set up a centralized docket system for all U.S.... Sample PDF
The Federal Docket Management System and the Prospect for Digital Democracy in U S Rulemaking
Chapter 10
Charles C. Hinnant, John A. O’Looney
We examine the adoption of information technology within local governments in the United States. The social and technical factors that impact the... Sample PDF
IT Innovation in Local Government: Theory, Issues, and Strategies
Chapter 11
James E. Swiss
The most widely accepted normative model of good public and nonprofit management is often called results-based management. It encourages planning... Sample PDF
Information Technology as a Facilitator of Results-Based Management
Chapter 12
Deborah J. Armstrong, Margaret F. Reid, Myria W. Allen, Cynthia K. Riemenschneider
IT employees are critical to the successful functioning of contemporary governmental agencies. Researchers and practitioners have long sought to... Sample PDF
Managing IT Employee Retention: Challenges for State Governments
Chapter 13
Carl Grafton, Anne Permaloff
Almost any public-sector task employing a computer can be accomplished more efficiently with a variety of tools rather than any single one. Basic... Sample PDF
Computer Tools for Public-Sector Management
Chapter 14
Michael L. Vasu, Ellen Storey Vasu, Al O. Ozturk
The integration of social survey methods into public-administration research and practice is the focus of this chapter. Coverage applies to other... Sample PDF
Computers and Social Survey Research for Public Administration
Chapter 15
Douglas A. Carr, T. R. Carr
Geographic information systems emerged in the 1970s and have become a significant decision-making tool as their capabilities have been enhanced.... Sample PDF
Geographic Information System Applications in the Public Sector
Chapter 16
Charles L. Prysby, Nicole D. Prysby
The increasing use of electronic mail in the workplace has generated important legal questions for public organizations. The legal questions... Sample PDF
You Have Mail, but Who is Reading It? Issues of E-Mail in the Public Workplace
Chapter 17
Carmine Scavo, Jody Baumgartner
The World Wide Web has been widely adopted by local governments as a way to interact with local residents. The promise and reality of Web... Sample PDF
World Wide Web Site Design and Use in U S Local Government Public Management
Chapter 18
G. David Garson
Research questions are outlined, forming the dimensions of a research agenda for the study of information technology in public administration. The... Sample PDF
An Information Technology Research Agenda for Public Administration
About the Authors