Holding a purge day? Boxing up all paper records and old hard drives and hauling them to a basement for safekeeping, where they’ll never be seen again? While government officials swimming in data may prefer these options for managing their information, they’re legally mandated to do something more: comply with burdensome, sometimes archaic, and always labyrinthine government records-retention mandates. (The National Archives has 145 pages of General Records Schedules available for guidance. Every agency has additional schedules and directives. For example, the U.S. Department of Education Records Management follows 133 schedules of its own.)
These mandates mean that government agencies have an exponential volume records potentially subject to litigation or FOIA requests. Given this deluge of content, agencies must choose an eDiscovery vendor with the technology and tools to accommodate their needs.
Here are four ways that government agencies can lighten their eDiscovery load:
1. Build a data map.
With numerous offices often scattered across their jurisdictions, government agencies often lack a centralized data repository. Scrambling to find dispersed data in response to a discovery request means that relevant information may be missed, creating liability for sanctions and delaying litigation. Creating a data map, which identifies what data you have and where it is stored, is a proactive step that can simplify workflows. Knowing your data landscape not only saves time, but it also helps you set better discovery expectations and negotiate realistic timelines with opposing counsel.
2. Create a targeted collection strategy.
Government investigations tend to move faster but last longer than commercial litigation matters, complicating the preservation and collection processes. Work with an eDiscovery expert to evaluate the best, most cost-efficient way to identify, retain, and collect all custodian and non-custodian data sources. An expert can also determine whether an on-site or remote collection will be optimal for your matter. Furthermore, partnering with an expert will ensure that your collection methodology remains defensible, with a secure chain of custody and quality controls, saving even more discovery headaches (and dollars) down the road.
3. Conduct an early data assessment.
Today’s eDiscovery software can eliminate the noise in data collections, reducing the data population to a manageable size for the processing and review stages. Filtering tools, which include deduplication, concept clustering, and email threading, can cull repetitive and irrelevant documents quickly and easily, so you don’t waste money reviewing emails about fantasy football drafts or 300 copies of the same message sent to every agency office.
4. Bring in artificial intelligence (AI) reinforcements.
Many eDiscovery platforms include smart, AI-based tools, such as technology-assisted review (TAR), that can streamline the attorney review process. Modern TAR algorithms can prioritize documents that likely contain the most relevant information for early review, learning as you review and continually refining its results. With minimal input from your review team, AI can maximize your output and prevent you from drowning in data.
For even more tips on how to tame the data tiger, please [contact us] today.