The City of Seattle’s IT department is dealing with the all-too-familiar feeling of giving out too much information — on an extreme scale. The department announced this afternoon that it accidentally released 54 days worth of emails to and from all city employees to one individual in response to a public records request.
“An inadvertent error resulted in the requester receiving more information than was intended to have been released,” the city said in a statement today announcing the accidental disclosure, which took place on Sept. 1.
The city says it worked with the person who made the public disclosure request to ensure that the emails were destroyed, and to confirm that he didn’t and wouldn’t share the information. The person was not identified publicly by the city. The emails released in the disclosure were messages sent between Jan. 1 and Feb. 17; and March 30 and April 4.
“The City of Seattle takes seriously its obligation to protect the privacy of City residents and employees while meeting its obligations under the Washington State Public Records Act,” the city’s statement says. “The City has initiated a project to assess its public disclosure and records management policies, and implement improvements that would prevent an issue like this from occurring in the future.”
The mistake comes just a few months after Crosscut published a critical investigation into Seattle Information Technology, titled “At City Hall, a massive department is mired in chaos.” The relatively young department, created by former Mayor Ed Murray in 2015, is still in the process of consolidating disparate IT departments across Seattle’s government into one unified organization.