Email Metadata

Matt Chapman filed this request with the Office of the Governor - Vermont of Vermont.


From: Matt Chapman

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Vermont Public Records Act, I hereby request the following records:

For all non-personal emails accounts in use by the governor and its staff, please provide me the following information for all emails sent and received between March 5 2018 and March 9, 2018.

1. From address
2. To address
3. bcc addresses
4. cc addresses
5. Time
6. Date

(Yes, this is a repeat from the last request, but judging by the actual documents sent to me, the cost should be dramatically different from the original estimate)

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 3 business days, as the statute requires.


Matt Chapman

From: Office of the Governor - Vermont

Hi Matt - I apologize for the delay in response. I am not certain why you assume the costs will be dramatically different. I do not believe you understand the mechanical difficulty in responding to a request of this type. The work of Senior IT staff required to do this electronically resulted in the original cost estimate. You seem to assume we have tools which can easily pull the requested information. I can assure you, after much trial and error, we do not. If you have tools you could suggest, I am happy to raise that with our Agency of Digital Services.

The production of the requested records for March 5, required the time of 5 interns (3 unpaid) who all worked 6 hours cutting and pasting the emails from paper copies. This also required staff time to collect and print the emails and review for the security concerns we indicated in an earlier email. The estimated cost, which was not charged to you, was conservatively, $412 for the record we produced:
2 paid interns for 6 hours(720 x .45) = $324
900 computer generated copies x .02 = $18
43 pages of photocopies x .05 = $2.15
2 hours of senior staff time x .57/minute = $68.4

In order to produce the remaining 3 days of records, in accordance with 1 VSA 316(c) we estimate a cost of $1200 and ask that all charges be paid, in whole or in part, prior to delivery of the copies.

Thank you, Jaye

Jaye Pershing Johnson
Legal Counsel
Office of Governor Philip B. Scott
[state seal]<>
State of Vermont
802-828-6410 (phone)<>
[facebook icon]<>[twitter icon]<>

From: Matt Chapman

My assumption is based on personal experiences from departments throughout the US who have made very similar claims that my request for metadata is not technically possible, but later agreed that the request required dramatically less time and effort than initially thought. Often times there's just a misunderstanding of the request, or there is a lack of in-depth technical skills (even within the IT department).

It makes more sense now why my request is deemed so expensive. Thank you for letting me know. Pragmatically speaking, the copying and pasting work can be done much more easily with the use of tools that your computer should already have (eg. excel). If that's not the case, then your IT department almost certainly has access to the tools needed.

With that said, based on the email headers of your response - specifically 'X-Ms-Office365-Filtering-Correlation-Id' - your department appears to be using Office 365 for email. If that's the case, then please run through the below steps. If anything is unclear, please let me know.

If your email server is NOT Office 365, or there are any reasons why this process won't work, please let me know. I am more than happy to write up similar documentation for the email service used by your department. If powershell is preferred, I can provide Microsoft-approved powershell scripts. If Excel is preferred, I can provide documentation explaining how to natively connect Excel to an external mail server.

Steps for exporting email metadata from Office 365:
0. Username must have access to search and export eDiscovery reports. If not, your IT department should have access to either grant the required permissions, or run through these steps themselves.
1. From Internet Explorer, log into
2. Navigate to "Search & Investigation" -> "eDiscovery" and create a new case.
3. Open the case, then create a new search through "Search" -> "New search"
4. Add a "Type" condition and select, "E-mail messages".
5. Under "Locations" -> "Specific locations" -> "Modify...".
6. Toggle the location that includes "Exchange email" and click "Save".
7. Click "Save & run" and give the search a name.
8. Navigate to "More" -> "Export results", then select the following options:
-Output options: "All items, excluding [...]"
-Export Exchange content as: "Individual messages"
9. Navigate to Export -> "[Name of export]_Export".
10. Click "Download results" and launch the "Unified Export Tool".
11. Paste the export page's "Export key" into the tool's key field.
12. Choose a save location and click "Start"
13. Open "results.csv" from the saved location.
14. Delete all columns that are not the requested metadata and save.

(Please note that depending on the size of the csv files, this may need to be done in batches through the use of a date or sender/receiver conditional within the search query. Similar can be said about filtering down to just your office's department's email addresses.)

Thank you for you understanding -
Matt Chapman

From: Matt Chapman

Hi - has there been any response from the IT department? I am worried now that your data retention policy might lead to a loss of the records responsive to this request.

From: Office of the Governor - Vermont

Hi Matt -
I have been working with our IT folks and may be able to extract to a spreadsheet to fulfill your request. Should be able to let you know tomorrow.
Thank you for following up with me.

From: Matt Chapman

Quick followup - has the IT department had any success?

Thanks again -
Matt Chapman

From: Office of the Governor - Vermont

Good Evening Matt and thank you for your patience.

There was a problem with our tool but we did fix it today. I'm running your query as well as four others as we speak. If it works that way I intend, we should be able to send you a spread sheet with the info you requested.

Let's touch base tomorrow morning.


From: Matt Chapman

Quick check in - any luck?

From: Office of the Governor - Vermont

Hi - this should be coming to you by COB. Thanks. Jaye

From: Office of the Governor - Vermont

Hi Matt -

With this email, please find all the remaining records responsive to your request attached.

Thank you and have a wonderful weekend.

From: Matt Chapman


Thanks so much for your help with this request! I really appreciate it.

Matt Chapman