NASCIO urges CIOs to prepare for e-discovery

Brief calls for holistic view of official records

CIOs must 'work with [state] agencies to make sure they are storing electronic data in a way that is accessible for retrieval.' ' GARY ROBINSON, WASHINGTON STATE

State chief information officers need to better prepare for electronic discovery as they take on more responsibility for proper management of their states' information assets, a new briefing from the National Association of State CIOs states.

E-discovery is an important issue for the public and private sectors as more critical business information is moved into electronic form, NASCIO officials said, adding that successful location and retrieval of electronic information can be critical to the outcome of a lawsuit.

State CIOs may have heightened responsibility for the storage, preservation and retrieval of electronic information in response to e-discovery requests. As a result, they must ensure the proper management of state information assets in addition to the technological infrastructure for locating and retrieving that information, NASCIO stated.

NASCIO's E-Discovery Working Group issued a brief Sept. 5 that explains the impact for state CIOs of e-discovery requests and encourages them to pursue a holistic approach to enterprise records management as part of a team of state government stakeholders.

This team could include state archivists, legal counsel, records managers and agency business leaders.

'Through a collaborative, enterprise approach to organizing state government knowledge assets, state CIOs can be responsive to e-discovery requests and ensure that those requests can be successfully handled across state agencies,' said Gary Robinson, Washington state's CIO and chairman of NASCIO's E-Discovery Working Group.

Electronic records are stored in many locations across many devices, such as computer servers, cell phones, personal digital assistants, digital cameras, radio frequency identification devices and thumbnail drives.

As a result, CIOs must 'work with [state] agencies to make sure they are storing electronic data in a way that is accessible for retrieval,' Robinson said. One recommendation is to use a common format for storing data so information is easily accessible by search tools, he said.

Automated capture

CIOs must also boost efforts to automate e-mail capture and federated search, which involves the simultaneous search of multiple online databases, said Peter Berkel, global solutions leader for the public sector at EMC, a leading storage and information management company. Berkel is also a member of NASCIO's E-Discovery Working Group.

In addition, CIOs must better manage content and deploy flexible strategies to accommodate new rules, legislation and technology related to e-discovery, he added.

To identify what information must be preserved, state CIOs must ensure that they have an adequate inventory of their states' IT systems, devices, applications and information. 'Knowing where information is located is the first step to ensuring its preservation if it could be discoverable in forthcoming or pending legal proceedings,' the brief states. The next step is to put in place the technology and policies to preserve potentially discoverable information, NASCIO said.
NASCIO officials also advise state CIOs to organize an electronic records management initiative ' especially for e-mail because it is a common method of communicating and conducting business.

Such an approach will help states examine the gaps and shortcomings of current
e-mail management systems, they said.

Spending on e-discovery technologies is expected to rise from $1.4 billion in 2006 to $4.8 billion by 2011, Forrester Research stated.

A panel titled 'The Challenge of Electronic Records in the Digital Age' will explore e-discovery and records management issues at NASCIO's 2007 Annual Conference in Tucson, Ariz., Sept. 30 through Oct. 3.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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