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Subject: Re: Technological Obsolescence of Records
From: "Fernandez, Eddie" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Records Management Program <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 3 Dec 2002 10:35:13 -0500

text/plain (109 lines)


Here is my personal opinion on your scenarios.

Scenario #1
I don't think cost would be a justifiable reason for having destroyed the
information.  The company was aware of the migration and should have taken
steps to ensure that the information was available for the required
retention period whether on the new system, old system, or other media.  I
know that here in the State of Florida, there is a section in the Florida
Administrative Code and in the statutes that states that a government agency
cannot knowingly implement a system that will impede access to public
information.  We are required to maintain the information in a readable
format for the duration of the record retention.

Scenario #2
In this scenario, let me start by saying that if Company Y is assuming that
the only information on the unreadable tapes is correspondence with a
retention of 5 years, that is their first mistake.  They cannot accurately
claim that the only information on the tapes is correspondence if they
cannot read the tapes.  It is very possible that there is information on
those tapes that have a much longer retention period.  In a court of law (my
only experience is from what I have read) not being able to read the tapes
is the equivalent of not having them.  In this case, it appears that only a
couple of years have elapsed since the system was eliminated, thereby making
it very possible that the technology still exists to extract the information
into some readable format.  It may be costly, however, it may be costlier if
they lose litigation over not having the information.  The court may order
that the information be extracted regardless of cost if it feels that the
information is crucial to the case.

This is somewhat of a double-edged sword.  If the company keeps the tapes
(without converting the data) and 4 years and 355 days after 1999 they are
ordered by a court to extract the data, it will be extremely costly.  Or
they could pay up front now to have an outsource company extract the data
and come to find out they may possibly never need the information.

Hope there was some perspective here that you hadn't already thought of.

Eduardo Fernandez
Public Records Administrator
Reedy Creek Improvement District
(407) 828-2526

 -----Original Message-----
From:   mckinney, susan [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent:   Tuesday, December 03, 2002 10:01 AM
To:     [log in to unmask]
Subject:        Re: Technological Obsolescence of Records

Let me just play devil's advocate on this one for a bit...I've been thinking
about this all night, and it is very curious to me.

A couple of scenarios, and I'm going to throw them both out at the same
time, since I'll be in meetings until 4pm and won't have time to play the
rest of the day.

Scenario #1:

Company X changes email systems.  After looking at the cost of migration of
info vs. technological obsolecence, company X decides to keep the old system
for 1 year, then destroy all the info based on the cost justification that
keeping or migrating the data would be too costly compared with the value of
the info on the system.  This is well documented with costs, etc.  3 years
later, Company X is called into court.  They bring in their justification
documents.  Now, based on the knowledge of our judicial system, and maybe
even jurors, what do you think would happen???

Scenario 2:  Company Y is cleaning out some of their old storage space, and
comes upon a box of tapes marked email and dated 1999.  Company Y changed
email systems in 2000, and does not have the operating system to run the
older tapes, and also does not know what exactly is on the tapes.  The
retention schedule for correspondence is 5 years, so they have not met
retention yet, and there is no pending litigation on any issue currently in
the company.  The question is this:  Destroy the info since it can't be
read, documenting that it was found, etc. in the files, or keep it, knowing
that it can't be read.  I wonder if this came into court, what looks better:
having info one can't read at all, and the cost of trying to do that, or
getting rid in the "normal course of business" after doing an analysis of
the situation and documenting it.

I have to admit that after thinking over these situations, I wonder if Mr.
Wright doesn't have a point in some cases?  This is where we start asking
the hard questions...what would we do, and what could we justify.  I think
we should be careful to dismiss the alternatives before we look at all

OK, off to meetings, presentations, conference calls and the rest of the
day.  Anyone got coffee???


Susan McKinney, CRM
Records & Information Management
University of Minnesota
502 Morrill Hall
100 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN  55455
(612) 625-3497
(612) 626-4434 (fax)
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