E-Discovery Basics/Illustration by Tom McKeith papers flying out of computer screen Illustration by Tom McKeith

- such software is probably enough. However, a 2007 Gartner study found that the Mimosa software lacked the functionality and capability of a comprehensive e-discovery solution. According to the study, Mimosa is recommended, but users should note that it's "mainly an e-mail archiving system" and users will "need other vendors to complete their e-discovery functions." Offerings from vendors, such as Guidance and Symantec, give more complete tools that reach into the deepest corners of a network to find and preserve data. These tools also work better with multiple file formats. However, these solutions tend to be more expensive than entry-level products.

The point is agencies must find what fits their specific e-discovery needs. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. There's plenty of help available, though. Cornell University offered staff three simple rules for responding to e-discovery requests: hold, preserve and search. They can also easily apply to the public sector.

Hold: Take the technical steps necessary to ensure that normal business practices, such as backup tape recycling and other data purging processes, as well as individuals deleting e-mail, are not interrupted so as not to lose data.

Preserve: Take a snapshot of electronic data to store and preserve in case of search requests.

Search: Execute keyword and timeframe searches on preserved data to discover all documents relevant to lawsuits, including searches explicitly requested by plaintiffs.

These rules may not constitute the perfect e-discovery solution, but they're a good place to start.

Chad Vander Veen  | 

Chad Vander Veen previously served as the editor of FutureStructure, and the associate editor of Government Technology and Public CIO magazines.