The Government failed to produce eDiscovery data? It happened to them, it could happen to you!

Well, those of you who know me know I couldn’t resist blogging about the mishaps in the government, not because I dislike the IRS, I actually like them because they give me money every year ;-) I am following the story “How the IRS ‘lost’ Lois Lerner’s e-mails” because I am fascinated to see how it progresses. As we have all seen, when corporations fail to produce eDiscovery data during a legal investigation, people go to jail or the corporation is fined an astronomical amount. Well, I guess the IRS could be fined but I am pretty sure it would anger almost every American who pays taxes ;-). Okay, moving on to the topic at hand now!

I want to take this opportunity to reinforce the fact that NO company whether it is private, public or a government agency is exempt from legal discovery. All it takes is an accusation of misconduct to trigger a situation where you are obligated to hand over evidence or risk costly legal sanctions. According to an Osterman Research survey of mid-sized and large organizations in North America, “72% have been ordered to produce employee email as part of a legal action, while 51% have been ordered to produce employee email as part of a regulatory audit or similar event. Further, 48% have used archived content for pre-discovery purposes, such as to determine in advance whether or not to settle or fight a lawsuit.” Based on these statistics I am pretty confident that most companies have some form of an eDiscovery plan in place including a solution that can search, archive and export data stored in email including attachments. I also have a sneaking suspicion that some government agencies with soon follow suit.

To avoid expensive legal discovery costs, many customers have used Recovery Manager for Exchange from Quest because it makes Exchange recovery and email discovery fast and easy – with no need for a dedicated recovery server. From a single console, you can find and retrieve message-level data in minutes from multiple sources. You can use intelligent search based on sender, recipient, date, attachment type, subject, message keyword or attachment content and compare the contents of an online mailbox with a backup mailbox to identify any differences. After the search, Recovery Manager can export the data in a variety of formats to facilitate email discovery obligations for legal inquiries or internal investigations.


Back to the story about Lois Lerner – "Was the IRS intentionally trying to hide evidence, or was this just an e-mail slip-up? We can't get inside anybody's mind or know what somebody's intention was, and I would not presume to," said Nancy Flynn, founder of the ePolicy Institute, a Columbus, Ohio, training and consulting firm. "It could be plain old e-mail mismanagement, which I'm here to tell you happens every day." Indeed! For more detailed information on the results of the investigation check out the article from USA Today, “Lerner warned IRS workers about ‘what we say in e-mails’.”


For more information on basic email discovery and why it is important to have a means to capture this data, check out Why Basic Email Capabilities are Important for Your Business by Michael Osterman of Osterman Research.