CBRM em­ploy­ees learn about writ­ing emails

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY CHRIS SHAN­NON CAPE BRE­TON POST cshan­non@cb­post.com

SYD­NEY — The art of writ­ing an email is get­ting an over­haul by the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s tech­nol­ogy depart­ment.

The CBRM has never had a for­mal email pol­icy even though there has been an in­ten­tion to im­ple­ment one since mu­nic­i­pal amal­ga­ma­tion in 1995.

“ Tech­nol­ogy changed so much. By the time we got the pol­icy writ­ten and ready, the (email sys­tem) was al­most ob­so­lete,” said Bob McNeil, the CBRM’s di­rec­tor of tech­nol­ogy.

The pol­icy is di­rected at new em­ploy­ees who may not be aware that emails they send and re­ceive can be re­trieved by any­one through the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion and Pro­tec­tion of Pri­vacy Act, also known as FOIPOP. McNeil said there have also been cases of mu­nic­i­pal emails be­ing sub­poe­naed in court cases.

Cur­rent em­ploy­ees will be ex­pected to sign the form as well, declar­ing their un­der­stand­ing of the pol­icy, McNeil said.

“If you can’t post it on a bul­letin board, then you shouldn’t send it in an email,” he said.

The pol­icy, which in­cludes tips on how to write “well-struc­tured” emails, states senders shouldn’t write us­ing cap­i­tals and only mark emails as im­por­tant “if they are re­ally im­por­tant.”

And it em­pha­sizes that a staff mem­ber should never send an email “while in a height­ened emo­tional state.”

“ Take the time to calm your­self and think about what it is you are try­ing to con­vey. Once an email has been sent and read, it can­not be re­tracted,” the pol­icy stated.

Those who break the rules face los­ing their email priv­i­leges. But McNeil said it’s im­pos­si­ble to po­lice the sys­tem, so email ac­counts will only be mon­i­tored if an is­sue is brought to the at­ten­tion of a su­per­vi­sor.

McNeil said the pol­icy is di­rected at some 800 CBRM staff mem­bers, but not specif­i­cally to­ward coun­cil­lors and the mayor.

The coun­cil is cov­ered by its own code of con­duct, he added.

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