Commissioner Sheehan has had some requests to communicate and/or do City business through Facebook. Since everything written pertaining to City business has to be stored and is subject to a Public Records Requests, Commissioner Sheehan has stated that she can not do any City business through Facebook (or other social media.) Everything pertaining to City business needs to be sent via email to the office or you may call the office.
Commissioner Sheehan did pursue this option with the City’s legal department. Please see the official response from the City’s Chief Assistant City Attorney, Amy Iennaco listed below.
As we discussed recently, you have had requests from neighborhood associations for you to contribute to their social media sites through having a “Commissioner’s Page” to include responding to posts from constituents on those pages. The City has dozens of its own social media outlets. Because of the Florida Public Records Act obligation to retain information on those City social media sites, the City hired a company to archive that information constantly due to the complexity of tracking all the posts on the myriad of topics. If you are asked in your capacity as the District Commissioner to post information on third party sites, the City does not have a mechanism for retaining that information and any constituent response posts or questions. The State of Florida promulgates a General Schedule for Public Records Retention for Local Governments that governs how long the City is obligated to retain different types of information. Excerpted below is what the state says about Electronic Communications. For the types of information that we discussed, it would likely fall under the category of general correspondence which has a three year retention schedule. Given the difficulty and complexity of working with multiple neighborhood associations from all over the City to coordinate and determine a reliable retention mechanism, I do not recommend that you or any of our elected officials use third party social media accounts for communication with their constituents. Even if we had a few associations that had members willing to attempt helping us with compliance, the reality is that they are volunteers whose responsibilities in those organizations frequently turn over. In my opinion, there is too great a risk of the social media accounts not being retained in accordance with the applicable state law records retention requirements.
It would be OK for you to provide text for a periodic column or email for your district associations to disseminate to their neighborhoods because you would retain a copy of what you wrote for the City’s records. Please let me know if you have any questions about this email.
Amy T. Iennaco
Chief Assistant City Attorney
City of Orlando
400 S. Orange Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801
There is no single retention period that applies to all electronic messages or communications, whether they are sent by email, instant messaging, text messaging (such as SMS, Blackberry PIN, etc.), multimedia messaging (such as MMS), chat messaging, social networking (such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.), voice mail/voice messaging (whether in audio, voice-over-internet protocol, or other format), or any other current or future electronic messaging technology or device. Retention periods are determined by the content, nature, and purpose of records, and are set based on their legal, fiscal, administrative, and historical values, regardless of the format in which they reside or the method by which they are transmitted. Electronic communications, as with records in other formats, can have a variety of purposes and relate to a variety of program functions and activities. The retention of any particular electronic message will generally be the same as the retention for records in any other format that document the same program function or activity. For instance, electronic communications might fall under a CORRESPONDENCE series, a BUDGET RECORDS series, or one of numerous other series, depending on the content, nature, and purpose of each message. Electronic communications that are created primarily to communicate information of short-term value, such as messages reminding employees about scheduled meetings or appointments, or most voice mail messages, might fall under the “TRANSITORY MESSAGES” series.