13 years worth of mailboxes from Almere administrators and officials have disappeared

Complete mailboxes of administrators and officials of the municipality of Almere have disappeared because archiving the mailboxes turned out to be too expensive for the municipality. This is apparent from email exchanges between the municipality and ICT supplier Fujitsu, owned by Omroep Flevoland.

The contents of the mailboxes of alderman Julius Lindenbergh and former mayor Annemarie Jorritsma from between 2006 and 2019 have disappeared, Omroep Flevoland writes. The mailboxes of former aldermen Jaap Lodders and Mark Pol and a former municipal secretary have also been removed. The mailboxes may still contain important messages about administrative matters or contracts, which must be preserved according to the Archives Act.

The reason for the disappearance of the mailboxes is that there are costs associated with archiving mailboxes and that Fujitsu, as an ICT supplier to the municipality, does not archive all mailboxes by default, can be read in the mail exchange. Fujitsu writes that in the past the municipality chose not to archive mailboxes by default because of these costs.

The municipality has asked Fujitsu to do everything in its power to retrieve the mailboxes, but according to the company, that is impossible. Only a snapshot of three months in 2020 was retrieved. Fujitsu writes: “Online mailboxes, such as Exchange Online, have also been searched and the retrieval of old mailbox archives has been looked at using powershell scripts, the end result is not available.” The e-mails from at least the above five people between 2006 and 2019 have disappeared, but they may have been those from more municipal employees.

The municipality was already called into question by the province in 2020 because of the municipality’s archive management. For example, archival documents would be destroyed without following rules and information that should have been preserved has disappeared. Almere has also been negligent in digitizing the paper archive, which has created a backlog and a digital and paper archive were used side by side.

Omroep Flevoland discovered the disappearance of the mailboxes two weeks ago after it submitted a request to the Public Administration Act regarding problems with the municipality during the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10. But the problem turns out to be bigger than initially thought and in addition, it appears to be the fault of the municipality itself, because it did not pay for archiving.