VINCENT council is scrambling to try and recover thousands of staff emails which have been deleted in contravention of the State Records Act.
The gaping flaw in Vincent’s record keeping came to light four weeks ago and has been the subject of an internal investigation, says the council’s director of corporate services Kerryn Batten.
In an extraordinary admission to councillors at the last meeting, Ms Batten said only the disobedience of a staff member had prevented the loss from being even worse.
“We were fortunate that in the last couple of years one of our employees has taken it on himself to try to store some of the records despite being asked to delete them,” Ms Batten said.
The city wouldn’t provide clarification on who’d ordered the destruction or why they’d issued the directive.
Ms Batten said the situation arose because managers at the council hadn’t been checking whether email accounts were archived when staff left the organisation. Instead, it had been standard practice just to delete the accounts.
“At the moment, going back further than two years, it’s unlikely that we’ve kept records in compliance with the State Records Act.”
New CEO David MacLennon has been left to try and fix the mess.
“The city is conducting an investigation on whether these emails are recoverable from the city’s back-up and other servers,” Mr MacLennon said.
“It appears that the deletion of records was generally in good faith based on the city’s record-keeping plan.”
Three weeks ago the city’s audit committee called for new, more stringent controls over the handling of records.
The stuff-up could play havoc with Freedom of Information requests.
FOI requests have previously revealed how former CEO Len Kosova froze out a community organisation in retribution for one of its members, former councillor Dudley Maier, criticism of the council.
In Perth council, emails also exposed lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi’s troubling reactions to staff who referred on criticisms about a dingy hostel operating from a building she owns in the CEO.
by DAVID BELL