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Department of Homeland Security

Records Retention - Electronic Documents - Ediscovery

Paper documents are subject to reasonable retention periods and procedures. Valuable records are ultimately transferred to NARA, and stale records are scheduled for destruction. Although FRCP 26 (discovery rule) has extended the definition of "documents" in litigation to electronic data, reasonable limits have not been placed on retention of such data. Agencies in litigation are called upon to search and produce obsolete, inaccessible electronic data at the discretion of individual judges - or face sanctions. Costs of compliance include reconfiguration of overburdened systems and countless hours of IT labor. Costs of noncompliance could include monetary sanctions or adverse judgments. Suggest two-year maximum for production of electronic government records in most cases, to be reevaluated in 10 years time when search and retention technology becomes more affordable and robust.

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Idea No. 3569