I find this thread of extreme interest, and also a cause of some confusion.
First and foremost to Shari, I agree with Robert W. Dalton’s comment that you are not "chicken little", you have, to the best of your ability made your views on the issue know to your management team and their legal advisors. Keep a copy at work and offsite as you may need to refer to your advice at some later date.
But yes! THE SKY IS FALLING!
As I stated earlier I am in a state of confusion. At my recent attendance at the ARMA 2004 Conference I believe I was advised in one of the sessions that the 90-day e-mail rule and for their destruction is for NON-RECORDS only and that all other emails take on the published and or approved retention and disposal authority of the organisation.
In regard to Shari’s advice that the organisations policy was to print out emails and place them on a physical file or as Sharon G. Blackstock, advises as an alternative to save it electronically to a network drive.
I have major issues with both of these processes.
1. I have experience of an organisation, a Local Government Authority several years ago who had the print and place on file policy and over a 2 year period almost no emails, either outgoing or incoming turned up at the central records registry. At first it was thought that no business was being transacted via email. This proved to be false as when the records & IT section configured the email system to route copies of all incoming and outgoing emails to the records department they were overwhelmed with the volume of emails flowing in & out of the organisation which for 2 or more years were never being captured as official correspondence.
2. As for capturing email to shared drives, OUCH. Shared drives are usually what they are called SHARED. Shared by whom and who can delete alter or insert information after the original creation date. NIGHTMARE SCENARIO! Capture the emails into an ERDMS or a records system of some type which locks the document on arrive is OK. But shared drives make me shiver based on my experience. I asked to be allowed general user permission for access in one of my clients IT network environment. I wanted to find if I could access shared drives and deleted, alter and add information which was not at that time captured into the organisations record keeping system. I called the IT manager and asked him to sit in on my investigation. He was horrified at what I could do to stored records in the way of Word Document s, Excel Spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and the like. His only defence was that all of our staff are trustworthy and would not do what I was suggesting could happen. Sorry NOT A CREDIBLE DEFENCE.
With other information I gleam at ARMA and elsewhere e.g. 5 firms fined $8.25 MILLION for failing to preserve e-mail communications! Bank of America fined $10 MILLION for document production failures! Schering-Plough fined $100 MILLION for manufacturing non compliance in 2002!
Plus some details I presented here in Perth last month [this is my assessment of the North American scene]:
With every new legal action and with some CEO’s changing into orange coloured overalls with ankle bracelets and handcuffs as the new fashion statement, the interest and activity in RIM becomes more intense.
I have little understanding of the USA legal system but I find the statement by Shari that:
>Our city has decided that they're willing to accept the risk of not keeping electronic information past the length of the backup tape recycle time.<
to be fool hardy, in the extreme. Maybe they think that they are bullet proof.
My understating is that in the USA the person in the highest position in the land, the President can be impeached, so what chance has a City Official to think that the legal risk is acceptable because of their position to believe:
> that e-discovery isn't relative to our city.<
I do not know what this person is smoking or taking but I would like some to also make me bullet-proof!
$1 and 10 cents worth on the issue from downunder!
Mr Daniel Lawrance [Laurie] Varendorff, ARMA
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