One of this year’s more intriguing political stories was touched off by reports that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton maintained her email on a private server, using personal accounts, during her term in office.
The Clinton email controversy brought the arcane world of eDiscovery in government agencies into America’s break rooms, living rooms and chat rooms. It even fueled a government initiative, led by the National Archives and Records Administration, to create an official policy for email management by the end of 2016.
Advancing eDiscovery in Government
Beyond these headlines, though, a frequently overlooked story is how litigation professionals at government agencies are coping with the same pressures as colleagues in corporate and private practice when it comes to the explosion of electronic evidence in litigation.
The Cowen Group and LexisNexis have partnered to launch a new “eDiscovery in Government” thought leadership series designed to shine some light on the challenges associated with eDiscovery that are unique to government agencies. The first meeting took place earlier this month at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
In Deloitte’s 2014 Benchmarking Study of Electronic Discovery Practices for Government Agencies, the survey found that internal eDiscovery systems and processes are the biggest challenge to government agencies. Some 43 percent of respondents indicating it was their toughest challenge – up 17 percent from last year.
Top 5 Challenges in Government eDiscovery
This month’s eDiscovery in Government roundtable probed into this same question and participants in the discussion identified five leading challenges:
1. Resources. Many government agencies struggle to obtain sufficient financial and human resources in order to manage their workload;
2. Technology Competence. One of the discussion leaders argued that the biggest challenge “is increasing the technological competence of lawyers with respect to eDiscovery” so they have the necessary context to accurately represent their workflow to judges and opposing counsel;
3. Volume of Data. Given their typically small litigation support staffs, government agencies face a unique challenge of dealing with a large volume of electronic data that must be collected, processed, reviewed and managed, then getting the salient information into the hands of government lawyers;
4. Efficiency. One panelist noted the challenge in government agencies of not only finding the right people, but also deploying them in the most efficient way possible within their small departments; and
5. Workflow. Another panelist commented that her agency’s biggest eDiscovery challenge is “making all of the pieces work together” so they’re able to do more with the same level of resources.
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The next program in the series will focus on how eDiscovery leaders in government agencies are embracing the concept of Information Governance as part of their workflows and processes. The eDiscovery in Government initiative is managed by The Cowen Group and is underwritten by LexisNexis.
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Photo credit: Flickr, Josh (CC BY-ND 2.0)