E-discovery rules reach beyond litigation

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Courtesy of Lexicon Systems, LLC

As environment, health, and safety (EH&S) professionals, you most likely are part of a lean staff, have more work than you need, and have strict budget constraints. You have the bandwidth to focus only on the most pressing issues. You must be able to find information when you need it, and trust that the information is good (i.e., current, with a verified chain of custody) to make sound business decisions. If your organization is involved in a civil lawsuit or regulatory action, then information issues move to center stage.

New U.S. federal rules regarding electronic document discovery (i.e., e-discovery) in civil lawsuits have caught some organizations unprepared. The new rules affect how organizations manage and track all sorts of electronic documents, whether or not they face civil litigation or regulatory actions. E-discovery can cause a big headache for those who lacked electronic information policies and procedures when the rules became effective on December 1, 2006. According to a 2006 American Management Association/ePolicy Institute survey, 66% of companies lack policies for saving, purging, and managing e-mail communications (D. Gage and K.S. Nash, E-Mail Retention: The High Cost of Digging Up Data, Baseline Magazine, August 2, 2006).

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