Survey: Federal Agencies Don’t Trust Their E-Discovery Programs

    Sep 23, 2015

    Three-quarters of federal agency legal and record management teams say they lack confidence in the quality of their e-discovery programs, according to a new survey.

    According to Deloitte’s “Ninth Annual Benchmarking Study of Electronic Discovery Practices for Government Agencies,” they are getting better at responding to the ever-increasing number of requests to produce electronically stored information (ESI). But when it comes to defending those records before opposing lawyers or Congress, three out of four say they were “not confident” their agency could demonstrate their ESI is “accurate, accessible, complete, and trustworthy,” if challenged.

    However, the majority (85%) of respondents said they were more confident, or just as confident, as they were a year ago in their ability to manage e-discovery demands.

    This apparent contradiction suggests two concurrent trends, said Chris May, a principal with Deloitte Transactions and Business Analytics. Agencies are gaining more experience with e-discovery tools and thus are more confident in their abilities to manage ESI-related inquiries. Yet they are also concerned about resource constraints, a point highlighted by the top three challenges respondents cited in identifying ESI: insufficient staffing, insufficient time, and the volume of data to manage.

    “While the tools and technologies continue to mature along with our understanding of ESI, the expanding scope of the issue is daunting, especially since agency resources aren’t growing commensurately,” May said.

    The study also found that mobile devices are playing bigger roles in the document preservation and collection processes that federal government agencies manage in response to legal cases and other information requests.

    The percentage of federal government agency legal and record management teams processing requests for data from mobile devices more than doubled in 2015, to 54% from 26% in 2014, according to the study.
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