The Corporate “Hot Potato” — Law Department Wants Help from IT, HR and Compliance on Records Management Policymaking

Launching and sustaining an effective records management compliance program is a daunting task and no corporate function is eager to be accountable for the enterprise and report to the chairman on this complex area. Each department has a different reason for shunning ownership of records management policy or enterprise content management.

For some, there is only downside to getting involved in an initiative that has dubious chances for success. For IT executives, the transparency of an effective compliance program with processes and systems for understanding how information gets retained and purged, would require a clear view into and rationalization of the massive and sprawling systems that have grown over time. This is not an indictment on past practices; organizations simply need to get going and bring order to the chaos.

New compliance areas typically start with the law department, according to most studies, as the organization needs to understand legal requirements to establish new policy. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure have delivered records management duties on the doorstep of the general counsel. Bringing a records management compliance program to life is beyond the skillset of most lawyers, particularly with regard to developing controls to manage electronically stored information. The law department needs major and sustained help from the IT, HR and compliance departments.

The problem is a real one. Most every general counsel views records management as a high risk item and a priority, yet few are comfortable with the enforceability of their organization’s records management policy. This fact is confirmed in a recent study by the General Counsel Roundtable and a poll taken last week during a Webcast hosted by Compliance Week on the new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

The fundamental gaps in corporate governance need to be filled quickly and someone needs to own enterprise content management. Stay tuned….


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