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Briefs: Controversial E-Mail Policy, Oklahoma Begins CIO Era, Maine Boosts Health IT

Oklahoma's new CIO faces challenges ahead; Maine expands health IT efforts.

A new Tulare County, Calif., e-mail policy is being challenged by two open-government watchdog groups, citing state law that requires counties keep records, including e-mails, a minimum of two years.

The policy, which set a 60-day limit for storing government e-mails, is intended to enhance county data protection and discourage personal and inappropriate use of county computers by employees, officials told the Visalia Times-Delta newspaper. The provision to the county's Information Technology Security Program Policies was approved April 6 by the Board of Supervisors.

But according to the California Public Records Act, there is a two-year period minimum for county records to be retained, which includes e-mails. Exceptions are built into the law, such as county employees using work computers to e-mail their friends or family.

But e-mails in which work-related issues are discussed or that include correspondences on county matters, likely would count as a government record, California First Amendment Coalition Executive Director Peter Scheer said.

Source: Visalia Times-Delta


Oklahoma's First CIO Starts Work

Oklahoma's first CIO started work Monday, April 5, in a public appearance in which he outlined the state's IT-related challenges. Alex Pettit told a state legislative committee that the state has made a "tremendous investment" in computers and technology that can be the backbone of a consolidated service network for residents to stay informed about state government issues.

"Our national search attracted some great people, but I felt Alex Pettit was best suited to take on this challenging and important task," said Gov. Brad Henry in March after announcing the hire. "With his experience in the public and private sectors, I think he will be ready to hit the ground running."

Pettit, a technology consultant based in Denton, Texas, is currently a project manager for Brown University. He also served as the chief technology officer for the city of Denton for 10 years.

The state CIO position was created in 2009 through legislation.


Maine Expands Health IT Efforts

Maine's governor recently established two entities responsible for expanding and coordinating health IT throughout the state. Gov. John E. Baldacci also learned Friday, April 9, that HealthInfoNet, the state's health information exchange, was awarded $4.7 million in federal Recovery Act funds -- money which will be used to provide support for health-care providers who adopt health IT in their practice.

These funds are on top of $6.5 million the state received in February to develop and implement a statewide health IT plan. The governor also created a position for a health IT coordinator, an appointment required by the federal Recovery Act. The Office of the State Coordinator for Health IT will operate from within the Governor's Office of Health Policy and Finance.

The Recovery Act funding will allow the expansion of Maine's health information exchange, HealthInfoNet, to eventually reach all health-care providers in the state.

Source: Gov Monitor