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GAO Highlights Government E-mail Gaps

April 29, 2008

GAO Highlights Government E-mail Gaps

Byte and Switch, April 24, 2008

For any of us who’ve felt guilty for not properly storing electronic documents, we shouldn’t worry – we’re not the only ones. Even government officials in Washington are finding it difficult to follow the rules of preservation. According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that studied Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), not all agencies are living up to e-mail retention policies.

“For about half of the senior officials, e-mail records were not being appropriately identified and preserved,” stated the report, highlighting the lack of effective “recordkeeping” systems capable of classifying emails for swift retrieval.

Interestingly enough, the study also found that many of the officials studied actually print out their emails and store them in physical folders. GAO officials cringed at this knowledge that both physical and electronic copies of e-mails are floating around, creating unnecessary risks of data theft.

By no means do these study results give you reason to procrastinate establishing email storage policies, but you can rest assured that you are not the only one trying to deal with it. We suggest that you do what you can to prepare yourself.

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