Government agencies are handling more complex electronic litigation discovery requests and are gaining in their ability to manage them, according to a study released this week.

Commissioned by IE Discovery Inc., the 2010 Benchmarking Study of Electronic Discovery Practices for Government Agencies Survey revealed that while budget constraints are rising for agencies, 61 percent of government employees claim to be “more confident” in their ability to manage e-discovery.

Forty-six government attorneys, paralegals and information technology personnel from 24 government agencies took part in the survey.

Conducted annually, the survey also revealed a reduced reliance on paper, more work being done in-house and an overall higher volume of data to manage.

Other points uncovered in the study include:

  • Government agencies have no standard approach to impose and manage litigation holds.
  • Almost one-half of agencies are now collecting “structured data” in repositories, databases and similar systems.
  • The form of production varies greatly. Almost 40 percent of respondents reported producing discovery requests in image and text formats, 37 percent in native file formats and only 41 percent on paper.

Bill Detamore, IE Discovery’s chief legal officer, said that government agencies should look at improving their early data assessment strategies, which in the long run, could save money by reducing the sheer size of data sets they handle.

“Gaining competence in this area may be one way for government discovery professionals to better leverage their limited resources and fulfill the expectation to do more with less,” he said in a statement.

A copy of study’s executive summary is available on IE Discovery’s website.