Storage costs acceptable price for transparency
Attorney General Kathleen Kane's investigation into why it took so long for her predecessor, Gov. Tom Corbett, to bring charges against pedophile Jerry Sandusky itself has been delayed by terrible public policy that should be rectified by lawmakers and state row officers.
The attorney general's office began its investigation of Mr. Sandusky in 2009 but he was not arrested until late in 2011.
Mr. Corbett resigned as attorney general to become governor in January 2011, when the Sandusky case still was an open investigation.
Under Mr. Corbett, the office retained email records for five years. A month after he left the office, interim Attorney General Bill Ryan, who had been Mr. Corbett's top assistant, changed the policy to keep emails only six months.
Mr. Ryan, who later was appointed by Mr. Corbett as chairman of the state Gaming Control Board, told the Tribune-Review of Pittsburgh that he "was not protecting anybody" but changed the policy to save on storage costs.
When she took office in January 2013, Mrs. Kane changed the policy to retain email records for two years, which also is too brief a time.
Several state senators of both parties should follow through on their suggestion to conduct a hearing into Mr. Ryan's decision, which would include an analysis of the cost difference between email storage for five years and six months.
Lawmakers also should pass a law requiring state agencies to retain email - public records - for a minimum of five years.
The attorney general, auditor general and treasurer would not be bound by that because they are independent agencies. But such a law would establish a good public standard. And lawmakers could make compliance with the standard an issue in the row offices' annual budget hearings.
That email deletion has slowed Mrs. Kane's inquiry into the Sandusky matter is the best evidence that the state needs a comprehensive minimum standard. Storage costs are an acceptable price for transparency.