eDiscovery is a complex process for even the most experienced government agencies. Government agencies face added challenges in their efforts to procure eDiscovery solutions.
These challenges can further complicate the eDiscovery process if you can’t find an end-to-end enterprise solution with advanced features. These platforms can sift through information faster, ingest data more efficiently, automate collection, and handle all the stages of the eDiscovery process. They provide a flexible solution that can address all your eDiscovery needs (from legal hold to production and everything in between) in one platform. Not being able to find a rich and all-encompassing solution exacerbates already-existing challenges for eDiscovery in the public sector.
How? Let’s take a look at each point.
1. Increased Demand for Information
Three decades ago, the legal discovery process embarked on its transition into the digital realm. What was once a labor-intensive room filled with document review personnel sifting through countless boxes of physical documents to fulfill legal requests gradually evolved. It transformed into a room bustling with document reviewers, scanning these materials into digital files, which were then stored on drives or integrated into a comprehensive database. In this digital age, the expectation is that all documents should be readily accessible.
In practice, many agencies find themselves piecing together various eDiscovery products to manage their distinct needs such as Early Case Assessment (ECA), Technology Assisted Review (TAR), and more. But is this patchwork approach truly addressing their biggest eDiscovery issues? It’s important not to be swayed solely by the price tag of tools that offer only a limited set of features. Such tools often necessitate the acquisition of additional solutions to complete the end-to-end eDiscovery process. A more strategic approach is to seek a provider that offers a comprehensive eDiscovery solution, covering everything from data ingestion, ECA, TAR, review, to production within a unified platform.
Opting for a single solution provider to bundle these services together can potentially reduce costs and yield additional benefits. This approach safeguards against spoliation, data loss, and compatibility issues. By making smarter choices, agencies can effectively alleviate the strain on their increasingly constrained budgets. Selecting one platform that encompasses all these functions is a clear upgrade from managing multiple disjointed solutions.
2. The Data Landscape is Evolving
As the demand for information continues to surge, government agencies are grappling with an unprecedented spike in data volumes that require processing and review. This is further compounded by the proliferation of data sources at agencies’ disposal. Electronically Stored Information (ESI) is being generated at an astonishing pace, presenting agencies with a challenge of managing vast, diverse datasets.
Government agencies find themselves confronted with the storage of data in an array of unstructured formats, including emails, documents, images, chat logs, and audio and video files. These formats make it increasingly complex to efficiently search and review all pertinent information using manual methods.
The pressing need for more scalable and adaptable technology solutions in the public sector is continually on the rise. Investigative and enforcement agencies, in particular, face the daunting task of handling enormous data volumes sourced from a diverse range of formats. This scenario underscores the necessity for innovative solutions to support the evolving landscape of data types and volumes.
3. On-Premises eDiscovery Platforms Aren’t Keeping up With Cloud Solutions
This is among the mostly commonly cited eDiscovery challenges for government. Certain eDiscovery platforms, relying on outdated on-premises infrastructure, have demonstrated a sluggish pace of innovation and a lack of flexibility in scaling, in contrast to their modern cloud-based counterparts. Consequently, these legacy systems are no longer aligned with the evolving requirements of government agencies.
A Gartner report highlighted that a substantial 68% of legal and compliance leaders face challenges in effectively managing their existing workloads. Furthermore, an alarming 50% of these leaders exceed their budget constraints to expedite tasks, often grappling with outdated systems that hinder their efficiency.
4. Increased Cybersecurity Requirements
The evolving landscape of data security requirements and regulatory changes has raised the bar for stringent security standards and certifications. Within this context, government agencies face a pressing mandate to safeguard sensitive and confidential information throughout the entire eDiscovery lifecycle. This is a formidable challenge for the public sector, particularly in light of the vast and diverse datasets that often arise from collaborative efforts with sister agencies or external legal counsel.
The repercussions of data breaches carry significant consequences, both in financial terms and for an organization’s reputation. When such breaches occur within a government agency, the impact can be especially severe. Most government agencies operate with tight budgets that provide little room for covering the costs associated with cybersecurity lapses. Notably, agencies such as the Department of Defense are obligated to uphold the most rigorous security standards, which can, at times, impede their capacity to collaborate effectively in an environment where multiple individual teams frequently collaborate.
5. Restricted Collaboration and System Accessibility
On-premises systems often limit global access during business travel and can impede cross-office eDiscovery for agencies with multiple brick-and-mortar locations. A notable loophole involves employing a VPN for remote entry into on-site systems. However, VPNs also curtail flexibility by confining collaboration beyond the organization.
Conversely, cloud-based solutions hosted on distributed cloud networks are accessible anywhere there’s an internet connection. Not only are such options every bit as safe and secure as on-premises systems, they also provide agencies unprecedented flexibility.
6. Adhering to Compliance with Manual Processes and Limited Resources
As previously highlighted, government agencies grapple with the intricate demands of various laws and regulations, including but not limited to FOIA and interdepartmental mandates. Navigating this legal landscape can be both intricate and time-intensive. In this context, it becomes imperative for agencies to seek out forward-thinking eDiscovery solutions equipped to streamline their operations. These solutions should encompass a broad spectrum of use cases and incorporate contemporary product features that can assume a substantial share of the workload.
Given the constraints imposed by limited budgets and resources, agencies must exercise prudence in adopting tailored solutions that offer efficiency and versatility. Such solutions serve as a cost-effective choice in the long run, optimizing the management of expanding workstreams while aligning with fiscal constraints.
7. Getting Buy-in From Leadership
It’s important to note that it’s not just the aging, clunky, on-premises systems that can cause delayed responses to requests. Oftentimes there’s resistance to change within an agency. There are typically at least a few individuals at each agency who prefer on-premises technology and extended data collection processes simply because they’re familiar with them. In government agencies, the prevailing culture often leans toward risk aversion, given the high stakes involved in the event of any errors. This makes it exponentially more difficult to get everyone aligned on the action items required to migrate to the cloud.
In addressing these challenges, government agencies should consider embracing modern, all-encompassing eDiscovery solutions that improve efficiency via automated collection, M365 integration, and streamlined review — not to mention, the numerous security benefits of moving to the cloud. Government agencies must employ a proactive approach to meet these challenges and thrive in the digital age.
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