eMail Three Card Monte

A recent article about the failure of the Bush White House to install a proper electronic record keeping system shows another example of the breakdown of people and process in data governance.  The article talks about recovering 22 million missing emails, when earlier officials claimed nothing was missing.  There are federal laws that require the White House to preserve its records, so a lack of execution was in evidence here.
Unfortunately when lawsuits come knocking on your door, you have to comply.  This is one of the things that keeps executives and business owners up at night.  Whether you are in the public or private sector, understanding what records you must maintain is critical to your business.  It’s not just to avoid legal problems, but to ensure you have critical information to run your business.
Since emails from the White House become public record after they go through the National Archives’ process for releasing presidential records, it’s critical that a process is in place to archive them.  Some may think this was a failure of technology, but it was a lack of process which ultimately was a failure of people.  Plenty of good technology exists to archive email and ensure confidentiality, but it was a failure of management to put proper policies in place.
It is incumbent upon business leaders to drive the right behavior through an organization.  Without the right corporate culture, no amount of technology will solve anything, since people will always get around it.  Complying with rules starts with the people, not the technology.


Photo credit Runs With Scissors

– Written by Ron Arden

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