Litigation readiness is about being prepared. As state and federal agencies look at their priorities for records management, they need to keep in mind their requirements for litigation support capabilities. It's not just about keeping records for compliance purposes
Chicago, IL (PRWEB) October 1, 2007
With the new U.S. Federal guidelines for e-discovery, email management and records retention challenges - for both the private and public sectors - have never been greater. In the case of government agencies, if electronic information cannot be located and retrieved, the costs of litigation can include not only a loss in productivity, but also a sizable amount of taxpayer dollars paid out in sanctions - dollars that could be spent on more important priorities. How can government agencies manage the exploding volume of online content to help prepare for e-discovery requests and better address the costs and risks of litigation?
Open Text™ Corporation (NASDAQ: OTEX, TSX: OTC), the largest independent provider of enterprise content management (ECM) software and solutions, today announced a set of strategies and solutions to help government agencies move to a centralized records management and litigation support system to help manage discovery internally before litigation arises. Longer term, such a system can provide the foundation for more proactive management of content - anything from informal email to formal contracts and personnel information - that may be subject to discovery.
"In terms of e-discovery requests, government agencies are held accountable to the same guidelines as any other litigant," said Catherine Smith, an associate with Chicago-based law firm, Vedder Price, that specializes in electronic communications policies and e-discovery. "However, for the federal government, the challenges of identifying and locating records are compounded because agencies have widely varying IT systems, processes, policies, records retention schedules, and training practices."
Kathleen Kummer, Director of Government Solutions at Open Text, says responding to e-discovery orders not only requires a comprehensive and targeted plan, but also a consolidated and reliable means of gathering electronic documents.
"Litigation readiness is about being prepared. As state and federal agencies look at their priorities for records management, they need to keep in mind their requirements for litigation support capabilities. It's not just about keeping records for compliance purposes," said Kummer. "Agencies need to clearly understand where and how electronic records are maintained, and have easy access to the information, regardless of whether they need to respond to legal discovery or freedom of information requests." Kummer and Vedder Price's Smith participated in a podcast recently where they discussed the new U.S. Federal guidelines for e-discovery and the impact the regulations are having on government agencies.
Preparing for the New Content Management Challenges
Kummer identified several key strategies supported by Open Text applications that can help government agencies ensure that information is managed in a way that limits e-discovery risks:
Define defensible policies: Map the governing regulations and internal requirements to the process of identifying what email or document constitutes a record. Understand what is and isn't a record according to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Agency and State-wide policies. Work in conjunction with your legal counsel, Freedom of Information Act or equivalent Officer, and Records Managers to generate the defensible policies for your organization.
Enforce policies with records management: Move policies into practice with an automated and secure process for identifying, retaining, and destroying records. Key considerations include: Do you have a DoD 5015.2 compliant system managing all of your records, including classified information? Can you capture metadata, e.g. email header information, embedded data, spreadsheet formulae, in your content? Does staff understand when a document becomes a record? Institute periodic training sessions to ensure policies are being enforced.
Monitor and control all enterprise content: Establish controls over enterprise content in multiple systems -- including emails and documents in SAP, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SharePoint -- without changing the way users work. Consider the following issues: Can you describe all enterprise content in the same terms, no matter where it lives? How do you ensure that a legal hold or discovery procedure is spanning all relevant enterprise-wide content? Can you extend today's policies to tomorrow's potential information systems and repositories?
Retain business and program records: Manage the cost-effective, physical storage of records in a compliant fashion while destroying non-records appropriately. Key considerations: Can you ensure admissibility by proving content has not been tampered with by using electronic audit trails, document versioning or digital rights management? Do you have a plan for storage systems that can store records for decades, outliving their host media?
Extend with litigation support: Accelerate the collection, preservation, review and coding, and production of agency records as evidence. Can you export content into the litigation support application without creating duplicate copies of records? When a case concludes, can you disable holds placed on documents and automatically resume retention and disposition lifecycles?
Open Text currently supports corporations and can help government agencies by providing technology for intelligent storage management; enterprise records management; and litigation readiness through enhanced email and document management and access and storage technology. For a white paper on litigation readiness and for more information on Open Text's litigation management solutions go to: http://www.opentext.com/2/pro-ll-litigation-management. For more information about Open Text's solutions for government, visit: http://www.opentext.com/2/sol-industry/sol-gov-home.htm
About Open Text
Open Text™ is the world's largest independent provider of Enterprise Content Management software. The company's solutions manage information for all types of business, compliance and industry requirements in the world's largest companies, government agencies and professional service firms. Open Text supports approximately 46,000 customers and millions of users in 114 countries and 12 languages. For more information about Open Text, visit http://www.opentext.com.
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