Tomorrow (Dec 1) marks the introduction of new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). The good news is that for the first time, a framework has been put in place governing electronically stored information (ESI). The bad news is that for the first time, a framework has been put in place governing electronically stored information. (Note: An AIIM webinar will explore this subject on December 6th. Click here for registration information.)
The new rules do establish a safe harbor that protects parties that inadvertantly lose information through the routine, good faith operation of an electronic information system. They also provide potential relief from producing electronic information that is not "reasonably accessible."
The reason that this is bad news is that many companies and organizations have a long way to go in developing a basic strategy toward responsible and effective information management, and the new rules make clear that a responsible approach is expected.
A new AIIM survey of 820 end users on electronic records management (to be released next week) highlights how far organizations have to go. For example...
Only 57% say they have a formal policy related to classifying information as records.
Only 36% have a formal policy related to ligitation readiness.
Barely half (53%) have a policy in place for insuring that all information potentially relevant to a litigation is preserved.
47% have "no spending planned" related to managing information in the context of discovery and litigation support.
Only 48% have a statement in their employee manual related to employee responsibilities associated with records and information management.
Only 41% of the organizations surveyed have delivered training for employees on information management issues.
Many non-public companies dismissed the records and information management requirements association with Sarbanes-Oxley as not relevant to their companies. That won't be the case with the new requirements; the new rules make clear the an effective and responsible electronic information management infrastructure is a requirement, not an option.
At least if you want to have a ghost of a chance in court.