ST. PAUL (AP) - Local governments around Minnesota are slimming email archives by setting strict limits on the length employees can keep messages.

Officials contend it's about efficiently managing data received or sent by thousands of workers. But government watchdogs say it's coming at the expense of transparency.

Automatic purges of old emails are occurring in Anoka County, Bloomington, Rochester and St. Paul. Others are considering similar steps.

St. Paul's policy took effect in August and resulted in a deletion of 40 percent of city government employee email archives. Now, email is automatically erased after six months.

Minnesota open records laws makes most government documents, from reports to budgets to the emails of public employees, available to anyone who requests them.