Technology remains a concern for records managers – report

At Deloitte's Electronic Discovery Symposium, government records management professionals and other officials discussed major challenges they're facing.

Federal records management professionals described technology as the No. 1 challenge that they could tackle in the next year, according to the results of an industry-sponsored “brainstorming activity.”

Speaking in small group discussion sessions at the annual Electronic Discovery Symposium, held by Deloitte earlier this year, 27 percent of the 200 participants said harnessing technology was “the biggest challenge that you/your team faces that can be changed within the next year,” according to a report of the results released this week. Participants also referenced the need to upgrade software, address “technophobia,” and integrate automation and new search tools.

“There were quite a few people who talked about projects where they already had technology innovation occurring, and what went well,” said Chris May, principal of Deloitte’s discovery practice.

At the same time, about a fifth of the participants said technology improvements, like new computer systems, has helped move their agencies forward.


For the brainstorming sessions, the federal records management professionals, government lawyers and IT staff who attended the conference split into groups of 10 to 20 for part of the conference and answered questions about the electronic storage and retrieval of records.

May said he’s seen National Archives’ Capstone program, which calls on agencies to manage their email records electronically by the end of next year, encourage agencies to put more focus on better using technology.

“Some agencies are doing a better job than others — some of that is because they have more budget than others, some of it because the type of data they’re dealing with is different,” he said.

Deloitte works with agencies in electric discovery management, helping them develop strategies for preserving records, and providing them with technology so that they can pull up those records if they receive Freedom of Information Act, congressional or other third-party requests. Last month, Deloitte released a separate report on a survey taken at the event that found the number of respondents who said they needed to preserve or collect data from mobile devices had nearly doubled.

May acknowledges that the brainstorming activity only lasted about 20 minutes and occurs between officials who may not know each other. He said, though, it gives participants the change to connect with colleagues who might face the same challenges they do.


“It can be really disjointed at times, but we’ve gotten some really good feedback,” he said.

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